Sunday, March 15, 2009

Five poems by John Kulogowski

Five poems
by John Kulogowski


It is twenty-seven degrees on the street,

Monday’s cold exhaustion

a reason to exit, to games

of numerology with the signs

and digital clocks

in my seat beside the window

during the bus ride from point A.

Each face I glimpse beneath

the chill, turbid afternoon

closes in on evening,

returns the troubling affirmation

of parallel universes,

ineluctable transmigrations,

the embrace of desperate ego--

presence of Being is running

a cache of stolen goods.

An old man en route to point C,

between expectorating on the floor

his distaste for the government

and sips of coffee

(“if you like a good cuppajoe,

try this place; ’s not bad.”),

explains that because the sun was

not eclipsed, he’d bathed

in vain.

I waited for some leap in logic.

Maybe I would run into you

there; the whole moving shape

to this ugly town would return you to me by

the grace of a lunatic,

his cup of coffee,

the invariable bus stops.

The old man worried

a fragment of magical thinking

like a broken puzzle piece

jammed beneath my skin

while I turned my head

and mooned over the thought

of happening upon you

in this mad, obscure place.


Never Asked

Bad weather, he said, and fortunes not

predicated by the usual signs.

The celestial purviews were sopped

up with newspaper scrolls

on a lunchroom table beside mugs

of weak coffee, stale doughnuts and

those familiar will-this-day-be-my-day


Beneath the fluorescent light,

the long hair ghoul with impossible

eyes announces both the flawed

and the dead-on William Tell

horoscopes of the day.

He knows some of these workings

are fallacious, some theoretical, each a map

some fingers, save in passing, will never


That’s okay; he talks about

the drip and khaff khaff welling

like a blood-blossom rose upon his

daily blast as if he’d found his final


Something too far inside

to catch.

I never asked if he believed

in karma, but it came up anyway.

Its like me, like money as well--

That way it goes piss gold after

the paycheck, after the wallet--

Both of us can believe fully in only those

things we can not quite keep.



for T.M.

It happens sometimes a tree frog’s bark

reaches me those nights

I doze upon the blank and dark

glass of another’s ignorant


The tropical regions--many miles

traveled and drinks drunk

in the silences between friends--they

obscure those spots where my eyes

are pressed, agitate worlds

of heavy sangfroid and I am

with the guerillas, a smile of bullets

cashed in my teeth.

The men clap each other and tell me to

pass “awake” though the voices of

the jungle tell me otherwise.

It is then I am possessed of this

tiny solicitude. As I leap over a picket

fence, an insect between the sidereal

world and this, I hear

the tree frog’s song.

I think I am its meal, forsaking my

gods a matte pane of glass

from a lost friend’s window.

I offer myself now for target practice

(laughing fearfully for a reason

I no longer remember)

to those who do not know

the simple trespass of dream.


The Dictatorship of an Other

Here: I’ll keep it simple and

make a sketch, circumscribe

the line of your gaze,

or the clots of cloud

that hover above the offices and

shops when I go to clear my head.

I receive you like Philo’s God.

Somehow you manage to

swallow the entire town, and

yet you’re reflected in every

puddle, via negativa.

An interminable ego trip,

the signification of absence.

Somehow your throat gets

entwined with my shoe laces

when they are dragged

over the damp street.

One thought after another is

cleared out like a cough in

summertime; your switchblade

demesne cuts through my

steps, pendent with am and is.

Eventually the sketch overtakes

its bounds. The walls, the town,

my hands, my pulse. It seems it

never was you or she,

but desire desiring to be desired.

The simplicity becomes

too much with each attempt

I make to circumscribe the instant

I thought you out

and you, in turn, were me.


Morning Edition

During breakfast the frequency

of starting diminished, and

in my palm lay a grain of the stars,

as if your deserts could produce

sun enough to illumine

the civilizations that stain

my napkin.

All the stories are the same

by Vico’s estimation,

and I’m losing interest in

the words describing our machine.

In the paper it

was endless war; the stories

of peoples who will never know

the soil of a place not bloodied

by the acts of war.

It was the coffee; the roof beam;

the transient smile of the table

where Earth lay naked

as a slattern and keened

her broken-tooth love,

not having to explain.

Unlike us, she is unmotivated.

Spread-eagle and smiling.

Setting out still, you and I

indulge these insipid epics;

on the Homeric plates, the meal.

Author bio:

John Kuligowski currently lives in the midwest. He has previously been published in Blind Man's Rainbow.

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