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My Year in Poems: A Timeline of Fear, Rage, and Redemption

By Dr. Barry Lubetkin

Each of my poems published in The Insider during this maddening pandemic and politically fraught year has represented a pointed mood and perspective of mine, reflecting on the news of a particular moment. 

I started off hopeful and grateful to all of our healthcare workers in “6:58”. My neighbors and I felt safe in our homes and we applauded those who were caring for the sickest of the Covid-stricken. 

In “Naked Faces,” my frustration and disappointment began to show. I felt saddened and vulnerable while walking among the burgeoning crowds of young people who partied on without regard to the dangers of transmitting the virus.

As I awaited the election results, I shared my anxiety about what the next four years would look like if Donald Trump won. In “Election Night,” I recalled the celebration that never occurred on that evening four years ago, when I was filled with despair at the beginning of the end of our democracy.

I expressed blind rage toward Trump in “he.” All of his twisted policies and cruelties had robbed me of calm and sleep for four years and I was compelled to strike back!

I finally was able to breathe the pure air of truth and freely mourn all that we had lost

in “No More Tears.” The last line in the poem transmitted my deepest feelings : “We Are Saved.”

 “Reflections On A Pandemic New Year’s Eve” was my memoir in 30 lines! My year-to-year life of joys, disappointments, and now a Covid-challenged. post-Trump world. The Grateful Dead had it right: “What a long, strange trip it’s has been.”

My latest poem, “It’s Just a Shot Away,” is about now, the struggle that we are all having to get our vaccines and to stay alive and vibrant. It describes the confusion and torment that so many of us have been feeling as we search for the liquid future to be jabbed into our arms. Perhaps it is a metaphor for our efforts to right ourselves in this world turned upside down.

We all need to feel such gratitude for Andrea Sachs. She gave birth to this extraordinary literary vehicle where we have felt free to share our fears, our politics, our joys and our hopes every week throughout this most extraordinary year. Bravo Andrea!


Barry Lubetkin, Ph.D. is the co-director and co-founder of the Institute for Behavior Therapy in New York City. He is the author of numerous academic and popular articles, as well as two popular self-help books, Bailing Out and Why Do I Need You to Love Me in Order to Like Myself. The Institute for Behavior Therapy is the oldest private cognitive behavior center in the United States.



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