the heat is a hundred fahrenheit.
it comes from the open mouth
of fear—you become what you eat.
souls evaporate in sandy hook,
connecticut. grass becomes sand.
walking thirsty over the burning
ground, we remember freedom.
a college student of twenty-five
mutters, “we are very cynical.”
her wealthy background perspiring
in her vegetarianism, lesbianism
(even now marrying a rich man
may be a solution for some). her soul
moist with compassion, she thirsts.
suddenly she speaks from the future,
a college student turned a CEO:
“yes, you will have to cover the cost
of your travel, and board, and taxes,
and insurance, and pension, and gifts.
then, perhaps, we will renew your
contract”; her voice and eyes dry,
her parched words drink me.
around the campus, landscapers
cut off the trees devoid of sap.
the air is like productivity-demands.
sweet-tongued e-mails promise us
endless ways to enlarge the penis.
thirst is our emotion. drowsy,
we seek relief in roadside pubs.
Pupil of the Eye
You could have made me your magnifying glass
to view the beginning; or the patient lenses
of a cat or a gorilla, as they perceive you
surrounding, gel-like, your pupils which
keep growing in amnesia and madness.
But no, you have placed your weary sight,
tearful because of old age and sadness,
in my mind, to witness the final days.
Squeezed between your heavy eyelids,
I crouch as your upper one falls slowly
(though for you a life is but a blink).
A conscious pupil, obedient, I register
smells, sounds, sights, touch, the body’s
revolutions, and the world’s everything.
I lack the cat’s patience, or that of the gorilla,
as she puts her daily food on her tongue,
watching, ever watching, her right paw
not knowing her left, as either one brings
termites into her mouth; splits a nut,
scratches an itch, or supports a cub.
Her body being nothing but a body,
she seeks not to entomb it in a neverland,
for how could she dispose of so much matter?
Other than guarding, her eye is pure sight.
Her body in harmony with the elements,
the gorilla cannot create a god or name
the one who, gel-like, surrounds the pupils
of his divine eye. Yes, she sees—translating
wonder into her body’s necessities.
So you have engendered your eye’s pupil,
after concentrating the All into another spark
—me. Between the shutting of your eyelids,
I slowly move my eyes from my body’s wants
to the melting ice-caps, the acidic rain falling
onto the fishing spots, barbeque yards, and
the vast fields hiding keepsakes from Auschwitz;
to the Hutu cutting the Tutsi heads under the eye
of a green triangle; animals dying in torment
in corporate slaughter houses; calves chained
in tiny tents and choking into a most delicate veal.
I see language vomiting itself in advertisements,
scholars’ treatises, and prosperity sermons;
a baboon for twenty minutes eating a baby-deer
alive, starting with its hind legs; the deer shrieks;
eaten alive by the world’s politics, a Syrian child
shrieks too, over its parents’ bodies, while others
eat, eat, eat into misery and disease; to fulfill
every word of a madman’s revelation.
You watch the world’s last days with your own eye
—me. Your pupils are few and weary, for most
have long solidified into passive fossils.
And yet the starry night grows into a shiny sponge,
the grey egret slowly flies over the highway;
the dove coos at a female in the shrubbery.
And yet between the blinking of your eyelids,
I steal time and fold my momentary lips to deposit
a kiss on my lover’s forehead, in passing.
if you think you are safe you are wrong
look how insidiously the aliens have flooded
your tables and desks, bookshelves and floors
with scattered pieces of their paper bombs
look how much time you have spent just digging
through their statements and forms, and subpoenas
sorting credit card offers, calculating bills
analyzing the quotes from insurance firms
outside, birds are singing; they have not learned
how to sow or to gather, but they stay kept
precarious freedom! we keep securing it
in concord with the aliens, who pull the strings
Poem from The Butterfly’s Choice
Enough! Come out of those yellow eyes of fear!
The greedy day grabs you and me by the hands.
Have you been wronged, with your rosary of tears?
Look, our dreams hit the wall in equal shares.
Here’s a tree and rain. How can we divide them?
On my way home today, I’ve got soaking wet.
Do you think I could trade the rain for a tree,
when it’s pouring outside and the trees stand bare?
Don’t fall asleep so quickly—the night is young.
Twigs of sadness clank at my window and yours.
The morning divides the world into two halves…
a thread of air binds us; we need nothing more.
Poem from Intricacies
Snow is falling upon your childhood garden
It covers the cherry tree and blackcurrant bush
Your tiny pink paw is gripping the rope
Pulling the small wooden sleigh, you are going out
Together with kids from the neighborhood
you will run up-and-down the hill, tirelessly
Till your pink paws turn purple; the frost bite
makes your cheeks red—but you won’t mind
Snow is falling on the bus that pulls out
from the Soldiers’ Street. It is Christmas Eve
There are only two passengers, you and I
Not a sound but the engine and snow
We seek sanctuary in an ancient myth
about the manger, Magi, a wolf and a sheep
As if in a horror movie, we close our eyes
for just a moment. This night, time recedes
Snow is falling onto the roofs of townhouses
the firs’ branches bend under its burden
You are pulling me close to you, saying
look how much I have built, a paper hut
a fish-bladder window, a feather wall
a sawdust floor, and a garden of dust—
your joy’s companions, where you’ve spent
flickers of time with loved ones and friends
Snow is falling on your snow-white hands
one of them has lost, the other retained its grip
Resting on your closed eyelids, the flakes
do not melt. It is snow’s final victory.
The Day I Became An American
Hello passengers streaming
onto the CTA train
the Latino construction workers,
the East-European maids
Hello the young, texting one another,
the shy, the uncertain ones
Hello those who’ve made a mistake
and those madly in love
Hello farmers selling their produce
at the market place
Hello poets sipping afternoon tea
at their kitchen tables
Hello scholars searching for truth
in schemes’ quagmires
Hello mothers of sick children
without health insurance
Today I am telling you,
I am one of you
Poem from The Butterfly’s Choice
Copyright ©Joanna Kurowska. Any content from this website may not be reproduced without permission.