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Posts Tagged ‘Christina Pacosz’

Bittersweet

December 5, 2009 4 comments

by Christina Pacosz

Snow drifts on the Rocky Mountains
Buffalo herds
race across the ice
The wind blows
so strongly
as the sun fights its way
to a fresh new day

—Alton Fred Brown
April 17, 1984 – April 10, 2001

Bitter-root
bitter cress
bitter-bloom
bitter weed
Bitter Gourd

Awash in bitterness
like moonlight
at forty below
midden heaps
beneath old city snow

Berries of Kansas hawthorn
smashed on sidewalks
or shat by birds
hungry in this drought
Bittersweet orange

Decades of mourning
a member of the family
Celastraceae
called Wahoo in the Audubon guide
An American tree
its powdered bark
a purgative
Purple berries
winter fare
for cardinals and chickadees

Death’s inexorable plow
laying open furrow after furrow
of virgin prairie
Osage orange
eastern cedar
honey locust

The sad butchery
that buried him
on his seventeenth birthday
and before that his father
murdered
in front of his two-year-old eyes

Then dust and grit
March gusts pelt
the windshield with
almost two centuries later

Bitter-root
bitter cress
bitter weed
Bitter-bloom
bitter fruit
Bitter Gourd

Buffalo-ooooo-ooo
O    OOO    O  oo  o

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Christina Pacosz (webpage) has been writing and publishing prose and poetry for almost half a century. Her collection Notes from the Red Zone, originally published in 1983 by Seal Press in their anti-nuclear series, was selected by Ron Mohring as the inaugural collection in the ReBound Series from Seven Kitchens Press. Her work has appeared recently in Jane’s Stories III: Women Writing Across Boundaries, Pemmican, and Umbrella. She has been teaching urban youth for the past decade on both sides of the Missouri/Kansas state line where she lives with her husband.

Categories: Words of Power Tags:

Such Imperfection

November 5, 2008 9 comments

“…belief is the wound that knowledge heals…”
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Telling

A year since
falling
on my knees
to the earth
deer calling
across the dark
meadow. Brittle Queen
Anne’s Lace and late-
comer daisy — all
the dying grasses.

Orion hunts above
the ridge
where snatches
of conversation
from luxury
homes waft
down like dew
which is also
falling exactly
like the old
hymns say:
Balm of Heaven on Earth.

The mosquito whine
of traffic in all seasons
louder now the leaves
have begun their journey
to soil.
Drivers on Antioch and Barry
stare at billboards announcing
human dwellings for sale —
from the 250’s.

Fetal now
body and soul
posing a question
worthy of a sibyl:
Where, then, do we live?

Down by the creek
deer, impatient, but wary,
cough. From a hollow
in the meadow above us
an answer.
I must rise
and try to walk
another way.

by Christina Pacosz

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Depth of Field

October 16, 2008 11 comments

A cement porch with a vinyl-cushioned metal glider and posts with diagonally cut wood slats for decoration. There are several arborvitae clustered around the porch, green against white paint. The temporal address: 7420 Piedmont Street, Detroit, Michigan.

An indeterminate year. An unknown season.

Cousin Tony is standing behind Sophia who is sitting on the green glider holding the tiny Christmas 1944 baby. Walter is seated beside her. Everyone is just as they had been when they died. Tony has a Marine buzz cut, mud on his camouflage fatigues from some unnamed jungle in Vietnam. And blood. The insignia of his rank did not stop the bullets. Sophia and Walter are wizened apple dolls. She died of a fast-growing cancer and he was killed in a house fire. The baby in Sophia’s withered lap has a blue face because of the umbilical cord that had been wrapped around his neck when he was born dead into a world at war.

Richard Walter is sitting on the cement steps. Doreen Marie is beside him. Brother and sister. He died alone from a stroke or a heart attack, who knows? She died of an overdose of prescription methadone. Each of them is too young to die but they are dead just the same. Like Tony and the baby. Like Sophia and Walter, both in their early seventies. Too soon to say goodbye.

Fred Brown is there by the door, grinning his signature big grin. He is not in the bits and pieces, what was left of him after he was murdered, but the young man he’d been, only a week or so from his seventeenth birthday, just before he is killed. Buried on his birthday like it was a present or a surprise wake someone had given him. He is African-American and some might argue, not a member of this family, on this porch in the Polack working class ghetto where everyone else came from.

Since this is a portrait of my beloved dead, Fred is most definitely among them. He is saying out loud to anyone who will listen, “Christina isn’t white, she’s Polish.” My mother smiles her crooked smile and my dad barks a laugh like he knows a lot more about something but he isn’t telling. Richard and Doreen invite Fred to sit down on the steps with them. The Christmas Baby is happy to be with everyone at last.

The shutter snaps — this is not a digital phone dammit but a real camera — and I shoot picture after picture convinced that the light is exactly right, the moment too good to be true.

Like stepping into the same river twice — not the River Styx but another river — Missouri   Vistula   San  Ganges  Danube  Tigris  Euphrates  Yukon  Orinoco  Amazon  Nile  Mekong Mississippi  Detroit — these beloved dead aren’t easily gathered again.

by Christina Pacosz

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White Heron Wading

May 19, 2008 12 comments

by the willow, where fish
freeze in the dark shadow
of cascading green.
Be still cry the gills.

The heron tilts its head
watching for a ripple,
some sign, a reward
for careful scrutiny.

This bird is an anomaly
on the Ivy River,
too far north and more familiar
with sea marsh or estuary.

An albino great blue perhaps
but exotic in any case
here where the river twines
through old rock.

This day when the radio hawks

war war

the heron pauses on yellow legs
and eyes the shallows
for the sustenance it knows
is there.

by Christina Pacosz

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Categories: Water Tags:

Counting Monarchs in Kansas City

November 26, 2007 11 comments

for David Hensley

In the Flint Hills
about two hours west of where
I am standing on the corner
of Independence and Olive
I remember how
the ranger at the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve
uttered the words dark clouds like a mantra.
These migrating insects
have navigated drought, tall buildings
and moving traffic of all kinds:
SUVs, trucks, triple-trailers.
Miles of hot asphalt
as far as anyone’s eye can see
but it is their blood
telling them where
and how to go.
Most of the third grade class
are making paper airplanes
but some are making trouble
calling me back
to the gritty life
of this green oasis.
White sheets of paper
are tossed at the blue sky.
Who can fly their small craft
the farthest?
I am called upon to judge
or referee these contests
by the children
and still manage to keep one eye out
for black and orange wings
on their way to an oyamel tree
in the mountains of Mexico.
Determined to continue
60, 61, 62, 63, 64 —
satisfied this quarter hour
has been well spent.

by Christina Pacosz

Author’s note: Please, plant milkweed (Asclepias species) in Spring of 2008 across the country where Monarchs migrate. This is the only plant these amazing creatures will be able to utilize in the cycle of caterpillar to pupae to butterfly and, unfortunately, milkweed is being eradicated as an unwanted weed across the U.S.

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Categories: Insecta Tags: