Two Poems

Piotr Florczyk


is a survivor living in the cracks,
            in the dark cellar,
behind the still-rocking rocking horse—

or in the bubbly saliva
            that hangs at the edge of my lips.

I swear I hear it speaking in the gusts of wind,
            in the tombs of jars
and the popping of sprinklers at night
            from the thirsty ground.

(A real outsider among the rest
            of my porcelain set of diminishing returns.)

If nothing else, my wish list is
            the peephole of peepholes.
Fond of apples and oranges.

But look at it now: frozen like deer
            in the headlights of my time,
it wets its pants

            when I'm near it.
Sometimes I think it stays alive
            just to see me go first—

to momentarily lose itself
            within the noise of me
knocking my knuckle against my own head.


                        after Edward Hirsch

This is a song to be sung by
a soloist wearing a paper crown, for
the speechless, the missing, the kidnapped
at dawn, the ones pole-vaulting the border
but never hitting the ground. This song
is but a memory, a certificate
of authenticity forged to fill the frame
of mind, of frayed maps we follow
in search of sunlight to wishbone
this town. It has been written down
and copied for the pinkies and for
the big toes among us, the winged-pigs
that roam the laminated floors
of dreams, every New York City,
Kraków or Rome, every pawnshop owner
smudged with the fog of self-doubt.
Believe me, this song is for the girl
whose playground is dotted by craters
in bloom, and every man who carries
his shade in a shopping bag,
like a proof of purchase,
in case he chooses to exchange himself.
(Can you hear the desert wind
beating with its white-hot elbow
on the river which we cup and drink?)
Listen, this song has no name,
no price on its head. Make it your pet.
Longer than a deck of cards laid out
before your eyes and the runaway train
packed with laughing gas—sing it
for those who long for the chorus,
the easy way out, those who forget that
the air suffocates when applause is born.

Piotr Florczyk

Piotr Florczyk is a poet and translator originally from Kraków, Poland. After many years in California, where he earned an MFA degree at San Diego State, he currently lives in Delaware. His first book of poems appeared in Poland in 2003. He is at work on his first collection of poems in English. Florczyk first moved to the States on a a swimming fellowship, and is a former world-ranked swimmer in the Individual Medley.