Monday, June 5, 2017

Poems by Casimir Wojciech

I first met Casimir Wojciech on twitter and was immediately taken by his poetry.  He's a third generation Polish-American whose work has been featured at the Library of Congress and in various magazines here and abroad.
He currently resides in the Arizona desert where he works as a contracted painter. 

You can find him on Twitter at @caswojciech.

Here are some of his poems:

(I became a poet because the night,
wine, women and the eyes always
say it first)

what is more beautiful than
this desert at night?
window open, this warm air
purines the parts of me
I hide from my tongue.

I can sit here with the night, a radio,
a bottle of wine and watch
the stars do what we try.

wish dreams: as often as you can without going insane.


if someone should ask you about
the mind of this man, tell them
i felt most alive next to rivers

we sweat on bus stop bnches discussing 
the science of walking mountains and

tell your god to remind my god that we are all tired

the sun is a kenneled hound, just
another star that will explode like a
heart too near to what it cannot take back

time slowly becomes a promise we break
with that piece of the Self
we talk to
on the other side


what time has gleaned from our faces, that
you canot get it back provides
the greatest relief.  (stoke
the other side
our music pouring
softly without us)
the rose falling to its seed
again, will you tell me
with smoke --
who could disagree with
10,000 monarchs flopping
from rootstalk to milkweek

shall i draw my face a flooded basement, a sawdust moon 
an empty bus stop

this music of daylight holding mountains

it looks like rain in your hair


poetry is the ashes of midnight i kiss
with the blade of sorrow

poetry is a prophetic river

poetry is the burning city asking at what bus stop
did you laughing cathedrals leave their body

poetry is the ocean's wave titled upon your deserted breath

poetry is the stilts you use to look at forever with hush'd lips

poetry is an IOU from humming birds who forgot you are 
great at making love

poetry is the aura of your shoe laces

poetry is the mask of past lives' lovers
telling your heart to ripple every morning
you awaken wearing a stranger's skin

poetry is the universe's flippant response to realizing
there's no distance between love and letting go

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Call for Submissions: Catholic Poetry

I just received this in the mail today and thought I would share it:

Call for submissions -- new poetry journal -- Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry

We will be reading poetry for our first annual issue (spring 2017). 

Presence, a new journal planned for annual print publication each spring, is an independent journal affiliated with the Department of English, Caldwell University, Caldwell, NJ, and edited by Mary Ann B. Miller, editor of the anthology, St. Peter's B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints (Ave Maria, 2014). Advisory Board members are Susanne Paola Antonetta, William Baer, Paul Contino, Dana Gioia, Paul Mariani, Angela Alaimo O'Donnell, and Judith Valente. We publish poems informed by the Catholic faith on the basis of their artistic excellence, rather than on the basis of the author's professed creed or because the subject matter is explicitly Catholic. We encourage contributors to refer to our mission statement when selecting poems for submission.

Please send up to five unpublished poems, no more than three pages in length, in a single Word file, Times New Roman font (12-point). Be sure that your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address appear at the top of every page of the file. The first page of the file should be a short cover letter in which you clearly state your intention to be published in the journal and provide a brief bio, as outlined on our website. Please attach the file to an email to the editor at mmillerATcaldwellDOTedu with the following subject line: "Submit poems to Presence."

Our mission statement and further submission guidelines may be found on


Mary Ann Miller, Ph.D.
Dept. of English
Caldwell University
120 Bloomfield Avenue
Caldwell, NJ 07006
(973) 618-3454 Fax (973) 618-3375

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Martyrdom by John Minczeski

Polish-American poet John Minczeski was recently featured in the New Yorker magazine. John's poems have appeared in various publications.  His recent book Letter to Serafin speaks of his love of Poland and his Polish ancestors.  My review and a sample poem can be found by clicking this link.  

You can hear John read the poem at the New Yorker site.  

The martyr does not die. He lives to create more like him.The conscience lives behind an anonymous windowIn tangletown. It is difficult to find the right one.You call and call and there is no answer. But neverA busy signal. The martyrs climb one sideOf a mountain and descend the other. It is a worldFull of dangers, hidden crevasses, avalanches,And so overwhelmingly beautiful they sometimesWish they could die right there. They endureHardship and posthumous fameWith its bitter aftertaste, the feeling of lookingAlmost into infinity, which leaves them giddy,As if drunk. They carry miles of rope for their descents.So many martyrs. So much rope. So muchClimbing and descending. Though very hard, their workGoes on. The conscience, meanwhile, cooks an egg.It brushes water on a hard crust and fries it in a skillet,Making it chewable. It may go to market later today,but then again it may wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Proof by Karina Borowicz

All poets are teachers, and the best poets are the ones who have learned to teach in such a way that we learn from them with joy and ease and certainty.

Karina Borowicz is this kind of teacher.

Reading her poems I feel that I am learning about the world, both the little things and the big things, in such a way that I will be transformed by her lessons and that I will carry these lessons to others, and they will feel the joy I felt.  

Here are a couple of her poems, so that you'll be able to see what I mean.  


Hammer and hacksaw, vise and screwdriver have the hard gaze
and slow heartbeat of reptiles.  I am visiting the hardware store

with my father.  In a wooden drawer stained by dirty fingers
a sea of nails rolls back and forth.  The bare light bulb

burning in the middle of the ceiling cuts deep shadows
in the men's faces, silent men that smell of sawdust and kerosene,

boiled cabbage and cigarettes.  When I furtively pick up a crested little tool
its claws bite my palm.  The neighborhood's only color TV glows neon

in the dark room behind the register.  Cowboys are fighting at the bar,
chairs are crashing, the soundtrack builds ominously.

School for the Blind 
Photo Exhibit at the Central House of Artists, Moscow

A boy, his scalp covered
with white stubble, his face up close,
all sharp bone, all light
and shadow.  In the hollows 
of his eyes, darkness runs
too deep to give anything back.

Is it right to gaze so freely
at the blind?  My shame
and my tenderness are beating 
together.  I look away,
then step closer.

Back in the street I'm greedy
for faces.  Only these carry with them
a different ligh, not time-stopped.
These mouths move, these eyes
gaze back, these faces
flicker in the human breeze
as we stream over the sidewalk.
The cobalt beginnings of hair barely visible
on a man's shaven chin.  An old woman
whose eyebrows have worn down
to puckered skin.  Ears, some red,
some folded, or wing-like.  Beneath this angry
winter sky, there's nothing as beautiful
as our bare, imperfect faces.

Yet the photograph stays with me
like the tightened, white line
of a scar.  A negative after-image
that glows with otherworldly perfection.  

Karina Borowicz's book Proof is available at Amazon.  


Karina Borowicz was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She earned a BA in history and Russian from the University of Massachusetts and an MFA from the University of New Hampshire. Borowicz spent five years teaching English in Russia and Lithuania, and has translated poetry from Russian and French. Her first collection of poetry, The Bees Are Waiting (2012), won the Marick Press Poetry Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Poetry, the First Horizon Award, and was named a Must-Read by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her second book, Proof (2014), won the Codhill Poetry Award and was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Nightboat Press Poetry Prize. Borowicz lives with her family in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

London Manuscript by Anna Maria Mickiewicz

London manuscript cover for shop

The following is Tomas Niedokos' review of London Manuscript by Anna Maria Mickiewicz. The review originally appeared in Nowy Czas:

This is a new volume of verse by Anna Maria Mickiewicz, a Polish-English poet writing in Polish and English and living and publishing in England. Based in London, she is a keen observer of the natural (parks and gardens) and cultural life of the Metropolis, aware of centuries of history behind her and the cultural landscape around her.
Her poems are epiphanies in which an instant observation, always rooted in a particular locality, may lead to other worlds: to Ancient Greece, Middle Ages or to thePolandof the poet’s youth. Socrates can be spotted in a quietLondongarden and “What if the woman on the beach was a cousin of Virginia Woolf’s?” The Dead are always with us in the communion of culture.
Being a Pole, and a distant relative of the great Polish romantic poet, Mickiewicz cannot leave behind the turbulent history of her country and Eastern Europe (transportations toSiberia, Marshal Law), which was also the history of her family and herself. The memories of “a crumbling world order”, generations “tainted by the pain of parting with the unsettled soil” add certain sadness and discord to the tone of this poetry, which seems to be in quiet and resigned harmony with its space and time.
Other poems, by contrast, are “impressionist” pieces (“Summer inSeaford”), evoking a passing moment, mood or sight, which allow the reader to see things from an unexpected perspective, to discover the unfamiliar in the familiar thanks to a well-crafted and perceptive metaphor. The poet has a special penchant for capturing watery phenomena: fogs, mists, puddles, “droplets of water”, so typical of English landscape and cityscape, but in the end they are always seen through the filter of culture; nature and culture coalesce.
A love of England, its nature and culture transpire from these poems, the poet seems to be very well rooted in her adopted country, but the outlook, metaphors, similes are her own and refreshing, drawing from the experience of living in two cultures, two histories and, last but not least, two languages. And for the reader it is an interesting and pleasing journey through this very sensual, but also marked by history and culture, poetic world.
Tomasz Niedokos
Tomasz Niedokos is a Lublin-based academic. He  works on English literature. His PhD was on "The Concept of English Culture in the Cultural Biographies of Peter Ackroyd”

A London dream

Her mother’s voice:
Where will they send us?
We should pack the things we need.
Remember about the family silver, table cloths.
What else will we need?
What else will we need?
The Departure
The cattle train moves
The world has changed.

Where are we going?
Where are we going?

Arkhangelsk was just nearby.

This was not Siberia.
In Siberia
People were able to exchange clothes
For food.
In Arkhangelsk
It was not possible.

A frozen childhood picture
Is kept like in a crystal ball:
Muddy fields, a big forest
Someone is singing  
Somewhere in Belarus.

I am only dreaming at night
I worry, if I will visit the place now

The dream will disappear                            


Summer in Seaford

The sun sheds its golden drops.
The sea devours them instantly. 
The sky shimmers. 

The day is snatched from another story. 
We’re arriving, here at the end of the line. 
We convince ourselves that infinite space is an illusion…

We walk through the small English town.
A tiny station, plaster falling unevenly off the wooden beams.
Before us the Channel gleams threateningly. 

In the distance a cliff plunges sharply into the sea.
No chips, no ice cream, no candy floss. 
Dead jellyfish glitter on the pebbles. 
The day passes lazily by 
A ship silhouetted in grey against its face.

On the beach a couple unfold deckchairs
Wrinkled skin 
They read the papers. 
They seem unreal 
Postimpressionist faces
All nonchalant 

We’re heading back. 
The cafes and restaurants are closed. 
Who lives here at the end of the world?

Looking through photographs of the scandalous Bloomsbury set, 
An old snapshot. 
A gaunt young woman and a man in deckchairs.
They are reading the papers. 

What if the woman on the beach was a cousin of Virginia Woolf's? 
Who was the man? 
A poet? 
Or one of her scandalous friends?

Anna Maria Mickiewicz

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

With Blood and Scars by B. E. Andre

A note by Danusha Goska from Bieganski the Blog

"With Blood and Scars" by BE Andre

"With Blood and Scars" is a new Polish-themed book by B. E. Andre.

The book has two plotlines. One involves children, and is from the past. One involves a Polish father dying of cancer in modern day England, and his adult child hoping to learn the full facts of his life before he dies.

The book's intriguing title comes from a passage written for Polish children about their own country. How was Poland born? "With blood and scars." 

Here's the book description from Amazon:

"Time is running out for Ania. She needs to ask her dying father a vital question; his answer is the key to how she will lead the rest of her life. She must force him to revisit his childhood in Poland in 1944, a time when decisions about survival were made on the spur of the moment, a place where chaos undermined all previous morality. Who is her father really? Can she bear to find out? 

Another secret also torments her: an incident she filed in her memory store. Now the police have found the remains of a child in Whalley Range. Should she try to find the gang of friends from her own childhood days? Or should she keep the secret of what happened then? This coming-of-age novel is a tale of heroic survival against all odds: a life-affirming story of courage and hope set against harrowing circumstances. It celebrates the goodness that can be found in all nations." 


The book is available from Amazon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Arpil Snow by Oriana Ivy

Oriana Ivy’s book of poems April Snow won the New Women’s Voices Prize in Poetry in 2011.

She deserved that prize, and plenty of others as well. 

Re-reading it the book this morning, I was again touched by her gifts.

Here’s the blurb I wrote for her book when it first came out:

Oriana Ivy is the best kind of poet.  She writes about things that matter – family and work, love and the past, nature and history – in a way that always sounds honest, never tired or familiar.  Read her.  She’s got an ear for language and an eye for image that make her poems as irresistible as joy and kindness.

Every word is still true.  Maybe truer.

Here are a couple of the poems from her book that I especially liked.


One day in the street my grandmother
stops before another grandmother.
Both stammer: “It’s you –
you – in Auschwitz – ”

Turning to me: “She and I shared
the same blanket. Every night she said,
‘You’ve got more than I’
and pulled, and I pulled back,

and so we’d tug across the bunk – ”
And the two grandmothers laugh.
In the middle of a crowded
sidewalk, in old women’s dusk,

widows’ browns and grays,
they are laughing like two schoolgirls –
tears rain down the cracked
winter of their cheeks.

On Piotrkowska Avenue,
on the busiest street,
they are tugging that thin blanket.
They are pulling back.


It’s not the country I miss.
I miss the poplars
lining the long avenue,
leafy perspective I loved to trace

from my fourth-story window,
past Cemetery of the Russian Soldiers
all the way to the airport.
The avenue was named

after the first aviators.
uncle Gienio, killed in air battle
over france, was an aviator,
smiling from his biplane,

fading in a sepia photograph.
To his little sister, my mother,
he said, “We’ll fly around the world.”
I stood in each window,

walked out every door –
daydreamed on all bridges, dazed
with departure’s nets of light. I too
wanted to fly around the world.

At seventeen, you don’t ask
the price. In a sepia October,
I left. Behind me swayed
Warsaw poplars,

tree by tree bowing back.
Shadows laced my hands,
the passing leaves
rustled warnings I didn’t hear –

long perspective of poplars,
upward arms burned to gold –
behind me an endless
avenue of gold wind. 


The book is available from Amazon.  

She blogs about art, writing, psychology, God, myth, and poetry at her blog Oriana-Poetry.