Friday, April 5, 2013

Anteroom Poetry by Adam Lizakowski and Neal Warren

Review by Vincent Francone 

“The poet should be a DOG who pokes his nose in the garbage can smells the roses in the emperor’s garden barks and howls at the moon even if it ignores him.”  - Adam Lizakowski.

So begins Anteroom Poetry, a chapbook of poems split between Neal M. Warren and Adam Lizakowski.  As someone who has tried to write poems, and has at times renounced the writing and reading of them, I find these opening words to be nothing short of inspiring.  The poet’s job is not to seek glory but to write without it, in spite of all obstacles, to be the dog seeking and howling, with or without acknowledgment. 

The poets present different styles on different themes; Warren’s poems speak of war, the inhumanity of it and the struggle of those who fight, both on the battlefield and after returning home.  Lizakowski’s work bounces from culture clashing with American poets to the erotic ruminations and many points in between.  The collection is tight enough to contain nothing but stunners and offers a glimpse into a friendship and collaboration through poetry. 


(Vincent lives in Chicago and has been published in Spectrum, Rhino, The Oklahoma Review, the Jet Fuel Review, and other journals.  He writes reviews for Three Percent and won the 2009 Illinois Emerging Writer award for his long poem, "Chicago.")

Anteroom Poetry bNeal M. Warren and Adam Lizakowski was published by Outskirts Press, 2013.  It is available at Amazon.  Click here.


Two of Adam Lizakowski's poems from Anteroom Poetry

American Poets

American poets known to me
are reminiscent of a prehistoric bird
that still retains talons and scales
is too heavy to fly far
or sit on a branch
but stubbornly looks up
and stares at the stars

American poets know to me
like to listen music from the sixties and seventies
bob dylan, beatles, stones, Joplin,
hendrix, led zeppelin,
smoke grass, drink beer
write poems about Vietnam
during the 66-68 period
complain about politicians
and are displeased with new wave music
American poets know to me
cannot tell me why
there is no poetry –none
in newsweek, time, people, new york tiems,
washington post, san franscisco examiner,
penthose, usa today, hustler

American poets known to me
still read verses of 19th  century French poets
and dostoevesky and albert camus
whitman, poe, ginsberg
letters to a young poet by rilke
blake, eliot…

American poets known to me
cannot tell me why
none of their pictures
appear on first pages, any page
of the above-named newspapers
but there are pictures
of the politicians, presidents, pope
 naked women, ports stars, spies, astronauts
rock and movie stars, communists, murderers
pepsi cola and hamburgers.

American poets known to me
live in San Francisco
a city where there’s 4.5 poets per square yard,
who paint their faces in bright colors
wear leather, carry mace
and go hunting:
the poetry  that they seek is a wild animal
neither fed or touch
which has been living in America
since the end of the third ice-age.

The Cherry Bandits

The copper moon
hung in the ink-black sky
sky above the cherry-tree peaks
peaks above the blond heads
of three twelve-year-old boys
from the same street-
connoisseurs of amazing cherries.

(In the darkness by moonlight
cherries are not cherries
but precious stones from royal crowns-
exotic, expensive jewels stolen
by pirates-stashed
in the dark caves of mysterious islands.)

Hidden amid branches, devouring the cherries
each races to cram his mouth with more.
They-their heart-leaves shook by the cherry-trees-
eagerly grab what’s not theirs
boldly drawing the soft branches nearer
dancing like birds among the leaves, singing as they munch
passionate in the moment.

They spit out the cherry-pits, look down
and a vision lighter than a May-bug’s wings rises
above the tips of grass-
in the distance chimneys deeply inhale and exhale
for the last time
dozing after a moment, stretching out in exhaustion,
sleepy windows blinking their shuttered eyelids . . .
it is quiet-the crickets sing in chorus
and night, the bell-smith, slowly, precisely
casts the delicate bells of dew
on the lead tenor.

Between the three
and the cherry-tree and the night
love is born-between the heart and cherries
between leaves and moonlight-
there runs a feeling so evasive
that no one can put a finger on it,
let alone express it.
Boys beautiful and innocent, joined by sweet cherries.

Stuffing the labyrinth of their stomachs
they put their guard, Vigilance, to sleep.

Their treasures hidden under their shirts
they had little chance for escape.
The cherry-orchard owner, Mr Michalski, promised
that if they ate the stolen cherries on the spot
he’d forget the whole thing.

But he didn’t keep his word,
led them back to their parents
who boxed the boys’ ears as a lesson.

Twelve years later the three cherry bandits
stopped at the camp gates in Traiskirchen, Austria.

They hadn’t eaten in two days,
slept in three nights, bathed in four days-
it was November, arch-foe of dreamers, of carefree men.

If you don’t find happiness in your own country
it won’t be found elsewhere.

Fresh are the mornings for those rising at dawn
to milk the cows, feed the animals,
fasten the grapevines.

But not to those slaving for their naps
at the gates of the camp in Traiskirchen.
Trains, roaring like waterfalls, roll
into the Viennese station-the river of people rushes
to the ocean of freedom.

The port of freedom is the administration building-
painfully its grim exterior pricks
the tired eyes of the refugees.

The regimental barracks of Joseph the Friar
one-time school for the Nazi’s bravest cadets
and current garrison of the brave Red Army
now-ironically-give hope of a better life
not happier, just better-
for these Eastern Europeans, traitors to their countries.

Million-copy print-runs, poetic  honors,
front-page newspaper photos,
the most beautiful women, fame, money
dreams of distant and sunny California.

Reality is otherwise,
the eyes open wider
reluctant-everyone was reluctant
against their ears hummed the ocean waves
which they’d demanded with so much greed,
more patient now they wait in kilometer-long lines
in their hands tin receptacles for dinner-
answer the more and less
idiotic questions of the officers,
photos, fingerprints,
signatures, endless signatures,
decisions weighed,
numerous decisions, the selection of countries, of cities,
of sponsoring organizations,
brief friendships, sometimes but a moment,
tears, letters sent, glances back-
there’s Poland like a dog
jumping at you, tugging its chain,
baring its teeth,
Jaruzelski’s martial law in a fury-
what’ll happen to the prisoners
will they shoot them-
not my family I hope-
fatigue, distraction, apathy, depression,
lines to the stores, to the beds, the toilets,
interrogations everywhere,
          hundreds, thousands of people.

on their lips, in their skulls, dreams
source of the people’s tragedy
and its prophets damned to their cores
stretched, coaxed, paired, spit upon
mud’s synonym, soiling even the best men-
though the few gored most by communism’s
(or those with the most imagination)
were the first to fly away on angel’s wings.

Squabbles with the Albanians,
Hungarians cursing the Romanians,
the Czechs and Slovaks,
the Yugoslavians dominating everyone,
knife-fights, drunken brawls,
drawn-out disturbing howls.
Sex is at a high price-
though there’s few women,
Polish hookers the cheapest
but unwilling with the Polish men;
a golden age for homosexuals;
a floor up there’s a brothel run
like the best American supermarkets.
Thank God you survived another day,
pray for a quiet night-
many are sleeping in bunk beds,
in the hallways,
keep your papers under the pillows,
sleep with your eyes open.
The blankets a purgatorial curtain-
border between
being a beggar-slave of the commune
or humble servant of capitalism.
Of the thousands of refugees only a few will return.

Then day arrives, the smartest men, the earliest risers
(there might be a bread-shortage at breakfast)
dash to the toilets,
dash to the bulletin-boards and scan the lists-
no, not today,
though their wings are growing
rustling in their dreams:
Angles-creatures so delicate
God gave them wings.

The good-hearted people published a book
in Polish and English,
A Handbook for Polish refugees, prepared and presented
by the International Catholic Migration,
Geneva, Switzerland.

The Americans bathe daily
keep their money in banks,
there’s a hundred pennies in each dollar,
packages are mailed at the post office
letters go in the boxes painted blue,
in an emergency dial 911,
in the USA
the British measurement system is standard,
in a few days you’ll understand:
cars are the most popular form of transportation,
fruit is cheapest in season,
meat comes in packages
kept in the freezers of the big stores. . . .
America is a country of immigrants
and immigrants are America’s wealth.


Adam Lizakowski writes the blog Polish Arts and Poetry Asoociation of Chicago.


Anonymous said...

Re: the poet as dog. I am reminded of my poem "On the Possibility of Poetics as Revolution" in my collection, This Is Not a Place to Sing, West End, 1987 about my one-and-only journey to Poland in 1986.
When I write/words on paper/I am a dog howling//listening/to the engines/and ambulances/rushing to disaster/and destruction.//I can only/mark/their passage.

Not all American poets live in San Francisco. Christina Pacosz

The Polish Arts and Poetry Association said...

American poets known to me

live in San Francisco

a city where there’s 4.5 poets per square yard,

who paint their faces in bright colors

wear leather, carry mace

and go hunting:

Dear Christina not all American poets live in San Francisco, in the same way not all Polish poets live in Poland.