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Posts Tagged ‘Ron Czerwien’

Scales

January 28, 2010 3 comments

by Ron Czerwien

My father keeps shifting
positions, searching for some relief.
From my spare room he calls out
nearly every hour. Each time
I cradle his boney frame
we move together, by increments,
from head to foot and back again
on a rented hospital bed.
I feel his vertebra in the palm of my hand.

The tips of my fingers recall
every delicate bone lifted
from the open bellies of Northern Pike,
Blue Gills, Small Mouth Bass.
Scales on my face and chest,
I scrape the cutting board
with my bloody knife. A pile of entrails
and fish heads. Skeletons
with clinging bits of flesh.
I wrap everything in the local paper
and throw it as hard as I can
in the direction of a gully
slit from end to end by darkness.

At night I wake to his sighs
as the small hands of raccoons
peel back the yellowed newsprint
his skin has become. They run
his bones between their teeth.


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Ron Czerwien is the owner of Avol’s, a used and out-of-print bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin. His poems have appeared online in Moria, Shampoo, nth position, and other journals. The questions most frequently asked by his customers can be found here.

Categories: Health Tags:

Naming the Flowers

September 29, 2009 5 comments

by Ron Czerwien

Mother’s Affliction
Inflamed Iris
Lady Sliver
Cemetery Skin
Prickly Bitch
Wad-of-Red-Cellophane
Queen Anne’s Head
Dab-of-pus
Fuckin-thorn
Deadly Lampshade
Bachelor’s Buttocks
Vining-Back-Hair
Whimpering Pansy
Face-down-in-the-muck
Lone Gunman
Flowering Chest Wound
Hateful Neighbor
Jack-in-the-forehead
House-in-flames
Swan Parts
Angel’s “Trumpet”
Touch-me-here
Bloody Ha Ha
Silver Phlegm
Purple Discharge
Sweet Tumor
Wild Corpse
Annual Contagion
Baby’s Claw
Dainty Hemorrhage
Everlasting-facial-tick
Surgical Mishap
Stitched Eye Sack
Mucus Cups
Tainted Tongue
Creepy Jennie
Broom-rape
Black-eyed Mistress
Yew Prick
Joe Pie

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Ron Czerwien is the owner of Avol’s, a used and out-of-print bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin. His poems have appeared online in Moria, Shampoo, nth position, and other journals. The questions most frequently asked by his customers can be found here.

Categories: Words of Power Tags:

Why No One Saw It Coming

February 28, 2009 7 comments

The accelerating street was wet light
and we were, impossibly, on ledges
talking down the suicides,

disarming the shooters on their way to school,
the night’s echolocation
giving way to

the heart’s,
and though a signal is not an answer

sometimes even a glimpse of the Divine Yes
is enough,
the quick of it
almost mocking

a life laboring to break
bewilderment’s code.

What if we took in the street preacher?
Silenced the fortune teller?
Laid off
each sure thing?

Maybe all we need to remember is how
to call the sun up
or pin down the moon.

Maybe we’re merely steps
away from nowhere.

by Susan Elbe and Ron Czerwien

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Process notes

The process began one evening while we were browsing the fiction display at our local Borders Bookstore. One of us suggested that some of the book titles might make good titles for collaborative poems. Ron chose the title from that list and also submitted the first line. We then composed the poem strictly via e-mail. Early on Ron asked if we should offer edits during the process, but Susan felt we’d lose the energy of the exchange. So we simply continued to alternate lines. The varying line lengths and freer use of white space were Susan’s ideas. Ron followed her lead. Susan’s poems are replete with words that are surprising but never arbitrary. Ron offers as a good example of this her use of “echolocation.” Ron’s post-modern leanings stretched Susan’s approach.

Our biggest stumbling block was sticking with it. Our busy lives and other work intruded, and we constantly had to prod each other to come back to the collaboration. There were long periods when both of us struggled to come up with the right line, one that would not only carry forward what came before but also lead towards a felt, though always unknown, conclusion. The poem even includes a line Ron appropriated from a poem by Rae Armantrout, who he was reading at the time of the collaboration. Oddly enough, all of our lines survived editing! We each thought very carefully about what psychic gift we were sending the other person. Susan loved anticipating what the next line from Ron would be. Both of us think it’s important to collaborate with someone whose work and sensibility you enjoy and respect, but having different styles makes it more interesting. We hope to do more together in the future.