They laugh about the party
they’ve been shopping for while
I watch light shimmer from them,
rippling along bare legs and bellies;
sparks from the hair of their arms
in the bluish, cooled Acme air.
On the conveyor my petulant boxes of berries,
jar of olives, jar of capers, wedge of cheese
are plunked down, mute and inert.
I imagine a six pack of Rheingold
They bag their goodies
as a team, hands picking
and arms rotating above orbiting hips,
little pearls flicking from curves of shoulders
as they joke about showers,
about wedding nights; intimacies flipped
back and forth like hot
Red Bliss potatoes
and I’m remembering walks along the Brandywine;
honeybees abundant and deliberate,
a snake slipping into the water and whipping upstream;
the fever of early autumn leaves
that crept under my skin and overheated my brain;
stepping across hard, metallic white ice,
the trickle of water underneath a crescendo
that overwhelmed birdsongs
and the whistling, wayward breeze.
I’m still lining up tins and bottles
from my cart in regiments
as they pay, scoot for the door and the parking lot,
decades rolling out
ahead of them in waves.
As Promised, the Fire
In the heat I saw colors
no one else could or cared about.
In the fire we lost most
of the things I cared about.
The wills, birth certificates, passports
were lodged at the bank. The art
then a charcoal smudge.
In the fire I smelled apple and azalea,
cedar and hemlock,
mother and father;
what they worked for.
Far from any city
stars burned holes in the skin
of my dream time. Laughter, sirens
spun rings around the world.
I was offered in the fire
the hope of revolution and stasis.
I lost people I loved during the years
of occupation. Not dead, they were misplaced,
stuck away in cupboards, hidden
in lockers, in paperwork. I sought
and could not find them again.
I heard much in the darkness
you brought with you. Most
of the captured images came clear.
You lost people too.
You prayed for them.
They died, their lights went out
and others could be seen.
Everything burned, even things
you wouldn’t expect; rivers and harbors,
identities, principles many
boasted they’d die for.
I saw the colors of ideas, some
for just a moment, while others burned
into my palette. The more profound,
the duller the hues – matte-finished gun metal,
hospital green – while funny little concepts
rose like globes from a soap bubble pipe
and popped right out of existence.
From where we huddled
dying stars sounded
like the shrieks of toads when they jump
from embankment to water, gone in the ripples.
Even the thick doors of perception
shut bank-vault tight, tall
as cathedral spires, went up.
At the end, geysers erected
steam towers to sustain the sky,
to hold it back.
Some authorities told me about cold fire
that cuts through the hardest hearts,
arteries pulsing with angry lorries
and crazy cabs. I reminded them
the avenues and boulevards are also strolled
by hand-in-hand youth,
by skeptics as well as cynics.
There’s no shame in sweat, I told them,
even the kind that poisons
the very ground when flicked
over a garden wall.
I asked these magi for references
that might unlock my box of promises
where the bedeviling of man
is kept down, churning in mushroom dark.
I read to them as they lay in blindness,
fallen into adult beds with linen
as dirty as any hospital could make it,
infirmity our timekeeper.
Tripping Over Memorial Day, 1974
I never die in this dream.
I’ll be there in the morning
to greet the ass.
There is yet another story of a soldier’s
sacrifice and a botched
cover up by the brass.
Someone plucks at guitar strings
that elongate to the bathroom sink
while an oboe outlines the curves
of nostrils in the mirror, man.
The exposé is sometimes titled
“Ten Little Indians In Eighty Days”
and isn’t over when I return
to my seat in the bunker.
Resurrected by paperwork
the boy with a hook
in his sleeve spouts gratitude
misplaced as his shroud,
Old Glory pulled from the box
and refolded until the day
nightmares close his book.
It was swampy as Delaware
gets – dark, rubbery snakes
along the embankment, the river
backing up like a clogged drain,
birds restless in the dead air
under clouds that wouldn’t rain –
a sermon proper for an abattoir.
David P. Kozinski won the Delaware Literary Connection’s 2015 spring poetry contest, judged by B.J. Ward. He received the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, which included publication of his chapbook, Loopholes. Publications include Apiary, Cheat River Review, Confrontation, Fox Chase Review, glimmertrain.com, Philadelphia Stories, Poetry Repairs, Margie, The Rathalla Review and Schuylkill Valley Journal. Kozinski was one of ten poets selected by Robert Bly for a workshop sponsored by the American Poetry Review. He is a board member of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and of the Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center, where he has conducted a poetry workshop and read from his work on numerous occasions. Kozinski is Arts Editor of Schuylkill Valley Journal Online (www.svjlit.com). He has conducted poetry workshops for teens at the Montgomery County (PA) Youth Center, for Expressive Path, a non-profit organization that encourages youth participation in the arts. He has been a member of the Mad Poets Society for about twenty years. Still mad.