Live with Katerina. And marry her. And sleep with her.
And sleep with her again. She knows many more
things to do in bed than you. You are after all very
shy and inexperienced and reluctant to admit it.
In the climate of change it is as though
there is a second summer in the middle of fall.
Hydrangea re-bloom beside the peaked trees.
Hope that Katerina is still living with you in spirit
and not pretending to love you.
The light weakens. Keep in mind, Katerina has
nightmares too. Can we only replace a villainous
leader with another villainous leader?
This is not a good dream for her to be having.
The mice are sucked up like shadows
by light and the holes in the wall close.
And this is only the first part of the night.
Katerina goes out into the world.
She is committed to learning everything
about the world and falling in love with it again.
But there has been war. And she
must become a nurse in the land
of the dead where the chickens are frozen.
She celebrates healing, starts a garden,
grows cool tulips and swims
in underground rivers at night.
Far from her home and the man
she loved who is lost in a labyrinth.
Fuck him. I’m tired of getting
him out. It’s Sunday there
or Monday. She never understands
the time change. Katerina draws
a cross between a mandala
and black and white reproduction
of a Pollock abstract. She says
this is what the breath of
many years looks like. What she
knows the trees know and there is
not an ounce of God in it.
This is difficult to accept and
she must keep it to herself.
The stinging wind and morning of loneliness
she must bear too and bear alone.
Battle For The Soul Of The Country
He would go back when
the first gun was guided into his hands.
He has filled in a heart
with black and cut it
and pinned it inside his coat.
A yard-sale military medal on his lapel.
A memory of his mother saying,
Look, it is a carpet of flowers.
I sit between two men in a diner booth.
On my left, the man is on
a talking jag, wooing me
with anecdotes, arm around me,
spitting and narrating, salting my food,
while the one on the right lifts my wallet.
The storm approached.
They removed the stained glass
windows from the church
and placed them safely
in their basements.
After the bombings and the rain,
after the mist cleared,
they emerged from their homes
as though into a new world.
They replaced the windows,
but they were never the same.
At times, the wind whistled through.
I say to the mugger:
What of the one town,
the god’s or devil’s pocket
in all of the madness,
does this not suggest
that the country is good
and there are riches beyond
our beliefs, homes with
true works of art?
What about the child
who has drawn a peanut
shape with a worm in it
to indicate the earth?
Federal Land Grab
I left a beautiful scarf
in a restaurant
that closed within a year
which I saw trailing
from the antler of a deer
in a field.
I didn’t make much of it.
He had hoped it would
rain and it did when
he was on the plane
returning to the desert.
I wept about something I read
in a newspaper.
I say wept but I mean
I froze and was able
to step out of my body
and walk a long distance
till I came to a stream
and sat down and wept.
Leonard Gontarek is the author of six books of poems, including, Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket, Shiva and He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs. He coordinates Poetry In Common, Peace/Works, Philly Poetry Day, The
Philadelphia Poetry Festival, and hosts The Green Line Reading & Interview Series. He has received Poetry fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Mudfish Poetry Prize, the Philadelphia Writers Conference Community Service Award, and was a Literary Death Match Champion. His poem, 37 Photos From The Bridge, a Poetry winner for the Big Bridges MotionPoems project in 2015, was the basis for the award-winning film by Lori Ersolmaz.