Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume Two, December 2020.
Richard Krawiec’s fourth novel, Paria, was published in France (Tusitala Editions) to widespread acclaim. He has published three books of poetry, most recently Women Who Loved me Despite (Second Edition). His work appears in Drunken Boat, Shenandoah, sou’wester, Levure Litteraire, Dublin Review, Chautauqua Literary Journal, etc. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the NC Arts Council (twice), and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He is founder of Jacar Press, a Community Active publishing company. www.jacarpress.com
I have travelled from spy,
visitor, outsider squinting
past the chain links
I curled fingers around,
to a country road
of consistent noise –
mechanized hums, bass
drone of commuter tires,
the permanent, repetitive
barking of penned dogs.
Still, the tree limbs bounce
with tanagers, cardinals,
wood thrush and crows;
deers slow-pace the bush-
clotted woods, coyotes frame
their golden faces to me at night.
I grew up watching men
pound each other into the street;
now in the hurdy gurdy
of heaters and woodpeckers
I have arrived
at where I die.
in a basin of limestone spotted with lichen
clusters of purple flowers quiver
within starburst stems wedged between crags
small white sprays hug the surface ride the back-
shivering grass black seaweed curls from granite
across gritty sand wavers in the pale green froth
salt-tanged water darkens to blueberry then black
clouds process across Galway’s sushing waves
pass over the low green-blue hills of Inishmore
where buses replace potatoes and wool Connemara
ponies harnessed to carriages plod tourists past shells
of Medieval churches no one believes in any more
than five minutes when they pause before clopping
forward to the next set of ruins
perched atop seaweed rocks two seagulls
look shoreward cry to the seals slothing
atop a flat of tidal mud a trawler streaked red
yellow and blue splintered on the coastline
opens a collapsed hull full of crabs scuttling
along broken boards pinioned like bird feathers
through the slurry tidal wash into the sand
I can fill the bird feeder with cayenne
to keep the squirrels away but I can’t stop
the thrasher from flashing it’s long, sharp beak.
Once a man on death row
told me that writing was the first time
he believed his life had value.
I horded those words like seeds
fooling myself into thinking
that every soil is fertile, that images,
and descriptions, careful sequencing
could sprout a sheltering tree
in anyone’s life.
Wtf were you doing with a gun?
The cardinals and tanagers flutter close
then veer off. Finches and sparrows huddle
in bushes without singing. The thrasher
perches, releases a warning squawk
then stabs its beak down.
On screen a breathless announcer
dressed in a sleeveless party dress
huffs the facts – a customer bulleted,
a cook dead. Your priors. Your release.
The cell phone video shows you face down
as if sleeping on the asphalt while two cops
probe you with their booted toes.
WTF was I doing with a pen?
I convinced myself you were trying hard,
helped you meticulously map your movements,
revise to make the sequence work. The story
based on that first murder
which sent you to prison.
I gave you an A.
Watching the funeral I wonder
did I help you analyze or plan?
Did you use the grade as evidence
for parole? Did you plot your actions?
What part of your village am I?
© Richard Krawiec