How I Kept
During that time squirrels turned black.
What could spiral two of them
clattering up a trunk? It made me want
just to watch. The clouds turne foe.
Mostly I, I follwed them to the edge
of the plateau. The rest of me swore.
I thought of sinister ways to interject,
fashioning ingots into jewelry only
the deranged would buy, pricing
them for the rich, "The black squirrel
is the ass's jawbone of the future,
O my brothers." This is how I acquired
my present status, muscled and fierce
as the black clouds that stalk
the floodplains. I wore the plume
of a squirrel's tail around my neck saying
"The tail of man is a sugared winglessness."
How I wanted I kept to myself. Mainly I,
I grew rich,
knowing the plated scales
of the fish ululating to the river's rouged mouth
yielded an entire filth of wanting. The rest,
piles of stacked rock spiraling the easiest path
up the mountain. Black as a plum, my luck
found me a cave my pursuers would never find.
What they wanted
for me, I couldn't give.
They suspected me able to discern
in the green fecundity of the volcano's slope a lesson
and a reason. I have my gold to a tree. Early,
before they wake, I creep in and change little
things, a jewelry case rearranged, nothing missing.
to speak to me in bat. Their shit
richer than silt, allows me an unparalleled
garden. My vines climb the femurs I harvested,
snarling into globes of sugar. Wanting I, I want
a wantlessnes with wings. But I hear the bats
and know I love them, saying, "O the white of radishes."
Naming the Hurricane
What nerve! Theres only three kinds of days.
Every thunderhead looks like the brain
we could stuff into something.
But watching the tropical reds and oranges
on the TV screen ratchet into what well come to call Eloise
(forever), we could say, Diseased.
Once we boarded up the diner the coffee maker
was the jittery brain-ever seen the cloud
look like fifty cent tip? at least symbolically?
Florida quarters., dolts of my pocket.
Im the cylindrical brain of my sleeping bag today.
When the sleeping bag was rolled up
it was the stop-and-go brain of the evacuated station wagon.
Today its only tomorrow I hate. The high water mark
climbing the soggy brains of the vacuums bag (our filth as
If the brain grew legs and drug the ragged spine
like the tail through debris, with the soldered pelvis (as weapon)
swung into what then? Nerve, today I salvage a mobile--the
only thing still slowly swirling in the acres of still. The hurricanes
Yesterdays and tomorrows, fatted upon, batted about today.
Chmielowicz works at the International Writing Program in
Iowa City. He has done translations with the Polish poet
Piotr Sommer. In the Spring of 2003, he won the Prairie
Lights Donald Justice Poetry Prize and finished his MFA
at the University of Iowa.