Two Polish American Poems
Not sure what to make of the title
(titles can be misleading, like
Chinatown or Popiół i diament
or that blue–white–red trilogy
by Krzysztof K.) we microwaved
a bottomless bucket of buttered popcorn
and ignoring the subtitles watched
człowiek of sixty in a tattered bathrobe
spread faded photographs
of his rodzice out on a kitchen counter
next to a half-eaten peach.
Oni beamed at firanka stirring
in the noon breeze—the city
wanted in while the past
wanted out—but otherwise
said mało, even when he offered
them pastries, a drink. At Koniec
he kissed his mother’s cheeks
and traced his palec like an oar
along his father’s arm veins, ready
to answer their questions in Polish:
tak tak—nie nie.
Out of Place
Every house is a new home
in my mind. With unlocked doors
and carpeted stairs. A roof.
Every window a different view
of the same river, the boy breaking
elm sticks against his knee—
my sweaty hands, testing the glass,
confirm it. If I press too hard
the outside will shatter and I
will get lost among the pieces.
If I don’t, I’ll be stuck here forever.