PoetryMagazine.com                                                                           BACK
Since 1996 Volume XXI

2017 & 2018


John Guzlowski

John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, The Ontario Review, and other journals.  His poems about his parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany appear in his books Lightning and Ashes and Third Winter of War: Buchenwald. 

My Father’s Third Winter in Buchenwald 

Through the nearest window
he stares at the sky and thinks
of his dead father and mother,
his dead sister and brother,
his dead aunt and dead uncle,
his dead friend Jashu, and the boy
whose name he didn't know
who died in his arms, and all
the others who wait for him
like the first light of the sun
and the work he has to do
when the sun wakes him.
He hates no one, not God,
not the dead who come to him,
not the Germans who caught him,
not even himself for being alive.


He is a man held together

with stitches he has laced himself.  




John Guzlowski's writing appears in Rattle, Ontario Review, North American Review, and other journals.  Echoes of Tattered Tongues, his book of poems and essays about his parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany won the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer Foundation's Montaigne Award. 




38 Easy Steps to Carlyle’s Everlasting Yea


After living with Rod Mckuen in the horse-filled streets of Sandusky
Arise and sing naked
And dance naked
And visit your mother naked
And be nervous and tragic and plugged in
And pay the waiter in kisses
And pay the beggar in silver
And embrace the silent and scream for them
And grab watches and ask them for directions
And be a carpenter and redeem all the sins of the University of Illinois
And look for Walt Whitman beneath the concrete in the street
And put your thumbs in your ears and ask somebody to dance
The bossa nova and hear him or her say
Sorry I left my carrots at home
And eat/write/cry/drink/smoke/laugh and keep holy the Lord’s Day all in the same breath
And ride in subways, whistling at every stop for no reason whatsoever
And stroll along Michigan Avenue with your arms around your comrade, the sky

And be a blue angelic tricycle
And be any martyr’s unused coffin
And be you or me – it doesn’t matter which
And write poems like Pablo Neruda does
And throw them into the street/into the wind
And be Christ waiting at the bus stop for a passing crucifixion
and not having enough exact change to mount the cross
And be a mail-order clerk at Sears and send free TV sets to all the charity wards
at Cook County Hospital
And free the masses and free yourself from the masses
And march on Moscow, searching with burnt-out eyes for Zhivago
And be afoot with your vision and be afoot with my vision
And be underfoot and underground
And sell magic sparrows at the Maxwell Street Flea market
And carry flowers to the poets’ corner and water them with enormous Byronic tears
And wander through midday downtown Chicago humming “the St. Louis blues”
And wear your best strawberry hat all night long
And know the meaning of nothing
And guess the meaning of everything
And be a mind-blistered astronaut with nothing to say to the sun but
Honey I’m yours

John Guzlowski

Amazon Author's Page




© Copyright, John Guzlowski.
All Rights Reserved.