Friday, July 30, 2010


Magda, whose full name
is Magdelena,
is not here.

Across the valley from
La Meige on this
cool summer evening,

she is sitting
at the edge of
a grassy cliff.

The only thing between
her and the air beneath
is a small, unlined
notebook she is filling
with consonant-heavy

She will not tell me
what she is writing,
so I guess.

A poem?

Something about the chapel I can see in the distance?

Your thoughts?
Yes, kind of.

And I can imagine
she is writing something similar
to what we all write,
similar to what I am writing now:

that we are all human,
beautifully so…
terribly so…

That we are all
a great story of many books,
one that I see now,
brown hair, purple scarf,
her twin sister, Paulina, now beside her.

Two slim volumes in Polish
On the wide shelf of the earth.

Learning Polish

It slides off my tongue
like wet ice, and
my grandfather who
spoke English to my
father and nothing
to me, opens his
heavy immigrant hands
and calls me moja pociecho
which means “my consolation,”
and it is and it isn’t.

I say “Kocham cię, dæiadku,”
as I place white flowers
at his twenty-year-old grave.


A young Polish girl
in my poetry workshop
both arrived and left
our first meeting, bewildered.

Only later I learned
she thought that poetry
was pottery and became
concerned when she found no clay.

I gave her the option of
changing to watercolor
or photography but out of
embarrassment of manners
she stayed.

Her first poem was a
short reflective piece in English.
The whole poem turned like a wheel
around the word “schemas.”

Though unable to carry water
or display red róże,
surely her muddy hands
have created something worth keeping.

Visiting Poland

I have not been there
but I imagine the
streets and skies are
filled with large
black birds.

And the storefronts
are dressed with
links of sausage and
thick-crusted bread.

I imagine that the
buildings and statues
are gray and cracked
and taste like gun powder.

And the old women wear
heavy coats and
brightly colored scarves.

And the old men walk slowly.

I have not been there
but I imagine that
the thin threads
of my blood are
still sewn with
a green-eyed needle,

and my family fills
the streets and skies
like large black birds

that wear heavy coats,
that walk slowly,
that do not think of me
or this poem they’ll never read.

Bible Study

And God said,” Let there be light,” and there was light.
- Genesis 1:3

And let there be heavy
And great weight
And stones
That will sit in the
Small chambers of our
Labyrinth hearts

And let there be mornings
Where our sand-filled
Arms are difficult
To lift

And let there be nights
When the weight of our
Skulls is too much to bear

When the marrow of our bones
Is metal meat
When our blood is slow-moving

And in these heavy moments
We will be able
(Finally and without eyes)
To see the light

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A poet's best words
are not
the ones that send
amateur readers
running to dictionaries
to quarry a quick definition.
They are not
the long stings of letters
the literati wear like boas.
They are not
the anachronistic vestiges
of an even-then obscure language.

Our best words are our
first words.
"momma" "ball" "hungry,"
those that have taken our
first steps with us,
those whose meaning is not
learned, but