Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Polish American Historical Association Conference, Jan 2014

Polish American Historical Association to Examine Critical Issues in the Past and Present of Polish Immigrant Communities
On January 2-4, 2014 in Washington D.C., PAHA will explore social, historical, and cultural aspects in the lives of Polish émigré communities in America  

Los Angeles, December 10, 2013 – On January 3 and 4, 2014, one of Polonia’s most venerable organizations will hold its Annual Meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington D.C. The conference will gather over 30 scholars presenting their current research during eight scholarly sessions dedicated to such topics as: Protest and Exile, Polish Immigrant and Ethnic Women, Between the Revolutionary War and World War II, Polish Immigrant and Ethnic Identities, Religious Leaders and Communities, and Stories of World War II. Individual presenters will discuss: Pułaski’s burial, Polish troops in the American Civil War, General Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski, Pope John Paul II in America, World War II mementos and family histories, Polish children in exile, Polish-Jewish émigré composers and their inclusion into Polish music history, writings by women, American support for Warsaw in 1944, Polish-American press in Canada and the U.S., careers of second generation émigrés, Polish documents at the Library of Congress, dialects in Polish folk theater, and much more. 

A special book forum will be dedicated to Mieczysław B.B. Biskupski’s The United States and the Rebirth of Poland, 1914–18 (with comments by noted historians Prof. Neal Pease, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and Prof. James Pula, Purdue University North Central). The Conference will end with a screening of Mariusz Kotkowski’s Pola Negri: Life is a Dream in Cinema  held on Saturday, January 4, 2014: 5:30 PM Marriott Wardman Park, Jefferson Room. 

PAHA Annual Awards for research in the field of Polish American Studies will be announced during the Annual Awards Banquet on Friday, January 3, 2014. Registration is open on PAHA Website: www.polishamericanstudies.org.

About PAHA
The Polish American Historical Association is a non-profit, tax-exempt, interdisciplinary organization devoted to the study of Polish American history and culture. Founded in 1942 as part of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, PAHA became an autonomous scholarly society in 1948. As an affiliate of the American Historical Association, PAHA promotes research and dissemination of scholarly materials focused on Polish American history and culture, and its European origins.  PAHA publishes a biannual scholarly journal, Polish American Studies and a quarterly newsletter. The organization sponsors an annual conference, in conjunction with the American Historical Association, which serves as a forum for research in the field of ethnic studies.  The organization confers the annual Haiman Award for sustained scholarly effort in the field of Polish American Studies, awards the annual Halecki Prize for the best book on a Polish American topic and the annual Swastek Prize for the best article appearing in Polish American Studies, as well as sponsors many other awards. PAHA has over 600 international members, including both individual and institutional memberships; membership is open to all individuals interested in the fields of Polish American history and culture, and immigration studies. In 2011, PAHA sponsored the critically acclaimed Polish American Encyclopedia, published by McFarland and edited by Prof. James Pula.

More information:

Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, Ph.D.
Online Communications Director
& PAHA News editor
818 384 8944

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today the Poles are Burning -- "Dziś Polacy się palą"

Dear Friends,

Those who live in Warsaw or its surroundings may be interested in attending
the poetry reading associated with the publication of a bilingual
poetry chapbook 
of Polish American poets, by Antraktcafe Press: "Dziś Polacy się palą" -
"Today the Poles are Burning" - poems of Phil Boiarski, Linda Nemec Foster,
John Guzlowski, Leonard Kress, Mark Pawlak, and Cecilia Woloch.

The event will occur at the Aktraktcafe, Warsaw, Pl. Pilsudskiego 9, Thursday, November 28, 10:00pm.

Poems will be read by Elżbieta Wojnowska and Andrzej Seweryn.  
There will also be a briefing on publishing poetry, by Guido Zlatkes, 2013 Fulbright Fellow.  For more details, please go to to http://antraktcafe.pl/

If we are lucky, we may also have a bite of free turkey that evening!

With Kind Regards

Janusz Zalewski
poems translator -- http://antraktcafe.pl/

Friday, November 22, 2013

Video of the Magical Polishness Celebration at Teatr Polski

On November 17, the works of 13 Polish American writers were celebrated at Teatr Polski in Warsaw, Poland.

The writers were Michael Basinski, Phil Boiarski, Stuart Dybek, John Guzlowski, Leonard Kress, Linda Nemec Foster, Karen Kovacik, John Minczeski, Elisabeth Murawski, Mark Pawlak, Thad Rutkowski, Laura Ulewicz and Cecilia Woloch. 

Their works were read by Magdalena Cielecka and Cezary Kosinski and translated by Janusz Zalewski, the organizer of the event.

Here's a youtube in Polish of the event.

Friday, November 15, 2013

13 Polish American Poets Celebrate Magical Polishness at Teatr Polski

This Sunday, November 17, at noon, the Teatr Polski in Warsaw will celebrate the works of 13 Polish American writers who celebrate their deep and often “magical” relationship with Poland.

The event, organized and translated by Janusz Zalewski, will feature the works of Michael Basinski, Phil Boiarski, Stuart Dybek, John Guzlowski, Leonard Kress, Linda Nemec Foster, Karen Kovacik, John Minczeski, Elisabeth Murawski, Mark Pawlak, Thad Rutkowski, Laura Ulewicz and Cecilia Woloch. 
Their work will be read by Magdalena Cielecka and Cezary Kosinski.
For those unable to attend the event, it will be broadcast live at the following sites:

Broadcast organizers:

Broadcast sponsors:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Magical Polish American Poets

Polish Theatre them.  Arnold Szyfman in Warsaw

Designed as a continuation of last year's Poetry Salon devoted to the Beat Generation, the Salon "Magic Polish identity - poetry of Polish Americans" introduces the audience to a wider circle of poetry of Polish Americans.
Among the poets presented will be Michael Basinski, Phil Boiarski, Stuart Dybek, John Guzlowski, Leonard Kress, Linda Nemec Foster, Karen Kovacik, John Minczeski, Elisabeth Murawski, Mark Pawlak, Thad Rutkowski, Laura Ulewicz and Cecilia Woloch. 
The poems will  be read by Magdalena Cielecka and Jan Nowicki.
The event will take place on Nov. 17, noon.  

Here is a poem by one of the poets who will be presented at the Poetry Salon

Linda Nemec Foster

The Countries That Claim Me

I am from America and Poland.
I wonder how I came to have hazel eyes:
flecks of earth, sky, and sea in my gaze.
I hear the low pitch of the moon
as it swings above the roof.
I see crows, their blue-black emblem of regret:
I want to touch that regrret, to kiss it.

I pretend to be a cloud, a shadow,
a fragment of some distant past.
I feel lucky and American, Polish and cursed.
I touch the old and the new – mother, daughter.
I worry about really not knowing either.
I cry because my son will never dance
the mazurka, polonaise, oberek.
I am from America and Poland.

I understand English – nothing more.
I say it is not enough, not enough.
I dream in a foreign language thick
with the sound of dark trees.
I try to translate the words of each leaf.
I hope the wind will carry my response.
I am from America and Poland.

More information is available at the Teatr Polski's website: 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Whispered by Bozena Helena Mazur-Nowak

Since emigrating to Great Britain in 2004, Bozena Helena Mazur-Nowak's impassioned poems have appeared extensively online, and in the last few years she's gathered them together in a number of volumes.

Whispered is the most recent of these volumes of poems.

Her poems here are consistently lyrical and emotionally charged.  The reader looking for clearly written poems that express love and longing, sorrow and hope, will find them in this book.

A representative poem is "Someone Turned You into a Rock."

Someone Turned You into a Rock

You turned your back on me
Locked the door behind you
Threw away the key to your heart 
You have gone and left a scar 
Which does not want to heal

My heart bleeds and hurts
I feel half of me die
The other half lives like a ghost 

Wake up from your sleep my love
Calm my pain and suffering

Come back to me and let me live
Or kill completely my heart
Can not be like that anymore
I gave you my life and my heart

Someone turned you into a rock


The book is available as a download from SCRIBD.  Just click here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Poezja dzisiaj (Poetry Today) No. 99

No. 99

I recently had two of my poems published in Polish in the Polish poetry journal Poezja dzisiaj (Poetry Today).  

I asked poet Anna Maria Mickiewicz, who edited the feature, to tell me something about the journal and the selection of poems that I was presented in.

Here's what she said: 

"Poezja dzisiaj  is a literary magazine focused on presenting poetry, published in Poland by the publishing company IBiS.  It presents poems and articles about poetry, interviews with writers and translations of their work.  The publishing company also publishes books of poetry.  Each year, the publishers organize international festivalas of poetry.

"The latest edition of the Poezja dzisiaj (Poetry Today, No 99) included the work of contemporary poets who represent many artistic communities in the world."

Here's a link to the web home of Poezja dzisiaj.  Click here.

Here's a list of the poets who were introduced by Anna Maria Mickiewicz:
Edward Dusza: "Zdrada Narodowa".
Anna do so Tadjuideen Pakulska: haiku.
Elżbieta Lewandowska: "Bogini sadów".
Maja Trochimczyk: "Definicja literatury".
Michał Wroński: "Jeśli", "Szczęście", "KBS 0890".
Tomasz Łychowski: "Poszukiwanie".
Katarzyna Kado: bez tytułu.
Maryla Rose: "Drzewo życia", "Upadnij na głowę".
John Guzlowski: "Turysta w Katowicach w Polsce", "gołębie".
Aleksander S. Pęczalski: "Skrajności", "Świat".
Anna Maria Mickiewicz: "Wrócę", "Szary płaszcz przyjaciela".

Here's a link to the web home of Poezja dzisiaj.  Click here.  


Anna Maria Mickiewicz was kind enough to send me a word doc of my two poems in Polish that she included in her selection.  "Tourist in Katowice, Poland" was translated by my friend Henryk Cierniak.  "Pigeons" was translated by Urszula Chowaniec.  After the Polish versions, I've included my original English  versions.  

John Guzlowski

Turysta w Katowicach w Polsce

Słońce jest szarym
plonem deszczu

powolne chmury snują się
jak zagubione taksówki

stoję na cmentarzu
odgrodzonym czterema
murami z cegły

i myślę o przeszłości

strzała została wypuszczona
i zgubiła się
w ulicznym ruchu

Tutaj są umarli

To jasne – –
są pociski
w ceglanym murze

ale kto tutaj umarł?


mój ojciec śni o gołębiach

o ich duszach ich cienkich kołyskach

kości ale to losu

zazdrości im najbardziej chłopiec w Poznaniu

o świcie w pomarańczach i różu

z wyciągniętymi w pozie świętego dłoniach

uczył je latać wznosić się

w powietrze ich skrzydła łopocą

o dachy aż do mięsa do snów

o aniołach ponad drzewami z kryształu
a potem w szarych wczesnych chmurach

płynących nad nim w obozie

gdzie nawet gołębie nie były bezpieczne

gdzie jego ciało chude jak

sznurówka szukał innych snów

innych ciał choć znajdywał tylko

nadzieję w cieple nawet wtedy


ptaki bez okowów

oddychające szybciutko i gruchające

odchodzimy odchodzimy



Tourist in Katowice, Poland

The sun is gray
a harvest of rain

slow clouds hover
like lost taxis

I stand in a cemetery
boxed by four
brick walls

and think of the past

an arrow shot
and lost
in traffic

The dead are here

This is plain--
there are bullets
in the brick walls

but who died here?


My father dreams of pigeons,
their souls, their thin cradles
of bone, but it is their luck

he admires most.  A boy in Poznan
in a dawn all orange and pinks,
his hands opened like a saint's

and taught those birds to fly, to rise
on the air, their wings beating
the rooftops into flesh, into dreams

of angels above the crystal trees. 
And later in the gray dawn clouds
blowing about him in the camps,

where not even pigeons were safe,
where his body, thin then,
like a shoelace, sought other dreams

other bodies, and found only
the comfort of worms -- even then
he could still remember

the birds without chains,
breathing quickly and cooing
"We are going, we are going."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Airport Music by Mark Tardi

Image result for airport music mark tardi

Mark Tardi's most recent collection of poems is called Airport Music, and it recently found itself on the Small Press Distribution's Best Seller list.

I asked Mark about the inspiration for the book and here's what he wrote back:

As for why I wrote the book, as a Polish-American Chicagoan who grew up about a mile away from Midway Airport and one block away from freight train tracks, the relentless pulse of movement quite literally hung over our heads. I began to consider how airports are a kind non-place, neither here nor there, and how this intersects with a sense of Polish identity. And this sense of being "between" also connects to Polishness, both historically and presently, I think. So much of Polish identity relates to the struggle for nationhood historically; and presently, so many Poles achieve by leaving Poland. Chopin, Gombrowicz, Miłosz, you can go down the line, but so many important Polish figures were outside of their homeland.

As an American living abroad, of course I feel this more acutely in a different direction. There are obvious ways that my Americanness is visible, but in other ways, it shifts within different contexts. It can be both a liberating feeling and a very disorienting one. So I hope those emotions bleed through the book somehow.

I'm also attracted to paradox. So an artist like Sean Scully impresses me for following through a motif his entire life -- to activate stripes -- while Bontecou goes the other route, intense torque and shifts in various directions. Roman Opalka might be a touchpoint here because of his obsessive fixation with numbers, counting, his life's work being to count his days, quite literally. The numbers are textured paintings, but also voiced, uttered; something palpable but also floating in the air. Makes me think of that line from Michael Palmer's "Zanzotto" sequence: "the hum of the possible to say", something like that. I suppose I think of this idea of "airport" as constituent parts: both "air" and "port," impalpable triangulations of space, positions in time and history enveloped in the endless parade of almosts. And there are no giveaway silences, which is a kind of music.

Here are some of the poems from Mark Tardi’s Airport Music:

            for Agata Pietrasik

Impossible, this swept curve, sleep torn.

                                                                        Almost unguessable fractions, one more rehearsal, impossible, purely so, curved in fog. Though not in any strict sense, a door opens and goes on opening, impossible, to negotiate the difference between a handshake and a poem.  We all know dying in Cleveland is

                                                                        redundant, yes, or maybe it’s the weather.  To just walk into a photograph, impossible, sure, but plausible enough. And I’m grateful.  Impossible to marry my mailbox, impossible the curses this early. An impossible affection for the same.

from Airport music

Let x equal the amount of broken glass strewn across the sidewalk;

Let y equal the most hurried, the last

this brute contingency

that any breathing falls, imperfect
half-boarded up

There’s no harm for anyone else
in your mathematics

thin negatives,
slant black

never quiet, only graspless

locked into the cut of a house

Let k equal a knot of people, expectant
sounding each other out

a drawn bath to deform water

a butcher’s broom

5 out of 4 people have trouble with fractions. 
The entireness of simple touch. All those
lost landscapes. 

Your dead body looks like rain;

Mine, rotted planks for pavement, standing
water, vinegar, another flu out of season

Don’t ask how we went, by what sudden leap
or what unforeseen modulation. This zero with
so many ciphers.

It was impossible to watch:

To undress and dress again.
The chest a harpsichord.

That the withheld is the only eloquence left.

Flags and bunting everywhere.

A built-in lefthandedness.

Woven wind.

That the dead are protected. 

Another infinity, a hotel.

It was an injury to the idea.

A saucepan to plant some flowers in.

            after Lee Bontecou

            So why this body again,           less inglorious,

in interminable games of patience.  Why

the doorbell once more, the
anticipatory suspicion, why confess, why
the hammer or lorry or spaceship?

            Why not mine or someone else’s yellow expanding?

Now you lag, tug, looking back, inescapable perhaps,
no longer a mailbox to speak of.

            For the day, or a certain part of it, the rain slides.

            Prior architecture, the perfect colander:

Why not a candle, carpenter’s bench, little hats and all manner of birds?


Mark Tardi's Airport Music is available at Amazon.  Click here.

To read more about Mark Tardi and see some more of his poems, click here: Writing the Polish Diaspora.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tomasz Różycki’s Colonies Translated by Mira Rosenthal

One of the best received recent translations of Polish poetry is Mira Rosenthal's translation of Tomasz Różycki’s Colonies (Zephyr Press, 2013), a collection of 77 sonnets deepening our collective memory of what happened in Central Europe in the 20th century

Susan Stewart said that it's "One of the most remarkable sonnet sequences of our time: the work of a wandering, restless, and moral mind, here rendered with clarity and vividness by the translations of Mira Rosenthal.”

The reviewer at The California Journal of Poetics wrote, "Tomasz Różycki stands at the crossroads of historicism and new aesthetics. It is important that poets like Różycki are translated into English ... In this case, Różycki, through Rosenthal’s clean and stunning translations, succeeds at giving an American audience a new perspective in a constantly changing world.”

I asked Mira to tell me about how she first came to translate Różycki.  Here's what she was kind enough to write back:

            In 2004, Tomasz Różycki won the Kościelski Prize for his mock epic poem Twelve Stations. I happened to be living in Kraków on a Fulbright fellowship at the time, working on what would become my first book of poems and slowly unpacking (with my fledgling Polish) the work of poets I had never run across in any of the anthologies available in English translation. The awards ceremony for the Kościelski Prize was taking place just minutes from my apartment, so I went. I had never heard of Różycki before. But many of the Polish poets who were quite familiar to me—Zbigniew Herbert, Adam Zagajewski—had won the prize early on in their careers. It was a prestigious marker of things to come.

            The reading that Różycki gave at the ceremony was enthralling. His book-length poem was deadly serious and exceedingly playful at the same time, a personal response to the classic epic poem Pan Tadeusz. After that night, I began reading through all of Różycki’s work, including four earlier collections of short lyric poetry. What I found was a very worthy successor to an amazing literary tradition. Unlike many of his contemporaries, who sought to put aside the burdens of history and moralism in the work of their immediate poetic forerunners, Różycki seemed to embrace his poetic lineage. His lyricism and formal play were enthralling and expansive.   His poetry built on the work of those poets who had brought me to Poland in the first place.  It gave me a window into the contemporary extension of historical and cultural themes, and compelled me to try my hand at translation.  

Here are two of the Różycki poems translated by Ms. Rosenthal.

Military Exercises

Imagine for a moment that I live
right here, was born here, that my parents always
have had a shop here, and on Boulevard
du Temple there’s a bistro with a nice

young waitress—I’ll be there. Imagine that
there’s no such thing as Eastern Europe, no
cellars for hiding neighbors, no transports,
no round-ups, never any dreams of going

from house to house—for a moment suppose
it looks like this: a cat stretches its neck
in sunlight on a porch, a secret game
of chess unfolds between the waitress and

that guy. He tracks her moves, she brings him coffee,
as if by chance her hip jostles the board.

Service Office

I played the part of man, and more or less
it came to me quite well. I used deceptions,
makeup, mascara, base, a huge number
of words, for nearly everything is possible

with words, and everything was going well,
life from a suitcase, life on credit, nerves
before a trip, a house, a name and surname,
words, a whole host. I played the part of man,

and I was expert at it. Words like friendship,
father, woman, love, the word betrayal,
the word forgive. I could have forgotten myself,
I could have gotten lost in making words

my body, hands, and heart, little was missing.
Only the dog could tell. He bristled in his sleep.


Colonies is available from Amazon.  Click here to go there.

Tomasz Różycki (born 1970) is a Polish poet and translator. He studied Romance Languages at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, and taught French at the Foreign Languages Teaching College in Opole. In addition to his teaching, he translated and published Stéphane Mallarmé's "Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard" in 2005, and continues to translate from French for publication.  He has published six books of poetry: Vaterland (1997), Anima (1999), Chata uimaita (Country Cottage, 2001), Świat i Antyświat (World and Antiworld, 2003), the book-length poem Dwanaście stacji (Twelve Stations, 2004), Kolonie (Colonies, 2006) and The Forgotten Keys (2007). His work has appeared in leading literary journals such as Czas Kultury, Odra, Studium and Pen America.  He lives in his hometown, Opole, with his wife and two children.

Mira Rosenthal is the author of The Local World, which won the 2010 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, as well as two volumes of poetry translations. Among her awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the PEN American Center, the MacDowell Colony, and the Fulbright Commission. Her poems and translations have been published in many literary journals and anthologies, including Ploughshares, APR, Harvard Review, and A Public Space. You can listen to her read her work on Slate and The CortlandReview.  Her website is at http://mirarosenthal.com/

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.  http://polishartsandpoetryassociation.blogspot.com/