June 26, 2013

Vladimir Swirynsky


These were hectic days,
seagulls flying backwards,
the beloved Southern Theatre sold,
to become the Paris Art Show.
Nightly at the box office
men’s faces fashionably hidden
by a folded newspaper.
Most of my friends were working
at a Ford or Chevy plant, going
to Pink Floyd concerts and getting high,
and what did I have but a dark trouser
army of soup cans cleverly hidden
side by side in a corner.
You walk out of the house with
just enough money for a cup of coffee,
stop to listen to the gossip
of old women, check the dumpster
in the parking lot for anything
with instructions on it to tell you
what comes next, the police about
to stop you and ask for some
form of identification.

I Stood There Once

To whom does the heart speak—
one shoe blues,
rolling paper in our pockets,
all of us wanting to hitch a ride
to San Francisco to become
part of the migrating prey.
We listened to the Grateful Dead,
Moby Grape, Santana, feeling the love,
doing something that pleased us.
Marching to the beat of rebellious hearts
we became part of a great movement.
I was there, my heart twisted into colorful
peace symbols. In the theatres on Market
or Castro Street or at the Bijou
chances were that a sailor would
put his hand on your knees.
Years later
it would all come full circle,
men’s faces fading like
the poor soil of gentleness—
muted like the color of stone,
the nights coming alive
with candles and torch lit sorrow.
Today I walk the seven acres
of the AID’s memorial in broken
silence, drowning in a river
that swallows all things.

Already The Sky On Bent Knees

Love is imagined
Poetry is imagined
The weather channel informs us that
already the sky in on bent knees, the
promised sunshine nothing but a dwarf sun.

What is not imagined—
Bibles thrown out to litter empty parking lots,
dead perch playing pinochle on Lake Erie shores,
relatives who cure headaches by picking
poison mushrooms.
An eight year old girl watches out the
window, her eyes a lantern full of fireflies
she waves good-bye,
wanting someone to wave back.

We are born not knowing the real names
of our urges, taught to say please and thank you.
I’ve tried, wanting to tell her that innocence
is a faraway place. The ghosts of lover’s past,
every woman who ever smiled at me fill the
streets of a mind overrun with rioters,
the day reduced to pacing on wooden floors
about the letters that never came.


After a divorce and a trip to Mardi Gras for two weeks, Vladimir Swirynsky began writing poetry. Sixteen books later he's glad he made that trip to New Orleans.

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