Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stephen Lewandowski's O Lucky One

O Lucky One, Stephen Lewandowski's tenth book of poems, again shows his profound gifts. His poems have the sparseness and clarity that you'd expect from someone who has dedicated his life to preserving the environment. He sees the world in all of its line and color, weight and shape, and he can tell us about natural facts in language that always rings true. But there's more to his writing, of course, than this.

Like Emerson and Thoreau and the other great transcendentalists of the 19th Century, Stephen has the gift of sensing spiritual facts beneath the natural facts he sees so clearly and describes so exactly. In each of his poems, he brings us to a place and somehow finds a way of showing us the mystery there.

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In many ways, what he does is harder than what Emerson and Thoreau did. When these writers walked out into the forest or looked up at the stars, people still believed that the woods and the stars were worth looking at and that in their shadows and brightness some kind of truth lay that could touch us.

Stephen, for all his Polish heritage and his "otherness," still has this faith and a way of holding these shadows and lights in his hand so that we can see what he sees, understand what he does.

Here are two poems from O Lucky One:


To get to Bare Hill
look for that dark spot
on the map.
You may walk up
a rough road
into sunlight
reflected from clouds,
but once the darkness
comes, a fire is set
and roars into the night.
At the call to dance,
there's a ring or two
around the dying fire.
When we stumble down
feeling with our feet
for the dark path we
follow that stream
of stars.


At night
bears flow
like some dark
through the trees
they turn logs
and stones
to lick up food
their thick fur
absorbs starlight
to become bear-shaped
black holes

One slips down from
a weedy road bank
and without a look
enters the field
illuminated by my car
soaking up
every ounce of light-
for a moment
there is no car
no driver
no time
no road
no bear
now we breathe
deep and travel on


Stephan Lewandowski has been busy working with soil conservation for 24 years, preservation of historic places, and environmental protection. For the past ten years, he has supported himself as a consultant specializing in watershed protection.

His book O Lucky One is available from Foothills Publishing.

His poems also have appeared in Scream Online and Kritya.

His essays about his life and his work are available online at The Crooked Lake Review.


Christina said...

I so enjoyed these poems. Thank you for sharing them.

Maja Trochimczyk said...

Finding inspiration in a moment, a glimpse of unexpected beauty, this is so clear in Stephen Lewandowski's poems you chose to reprint. There's a mystery, a plunge into the unknown in these momentary revelations. Thanks for sharing them!