January 8, 2021

Marc Pietrzykowski


The slouching cheerleader dangles
her mother’s Birkenstock
from the end of her foot.

Boredom is a sign of defeat,
Coach says. Coach would know,
she smells like the pink wine

she sucks out of the sports bottle
she keeps in the cup holder
of her PT Cruiser, and goes out

into the hallway 6 times a day
to text her ex-husband.
What does she know about

victory, what does she know
about watching a sister
shrivel up and blow away

in an oxygen tent, or a father
who needs a fistful of pills
just to keep the voices at bay.

Or maybe she does. The sandal
falls, clatters on the gym floor,
Coach’s knife face swings out

then softens, watching the girl try
to scoop it up and slip it on
without anyone noticing,

her hands shaking like branches
in the wind that comes over the lake.

from Rattle #69, Fall 2020


Marc Pietrzykowski: “I have been thinking lately about what it would be like to lose the compulsion to create, to make poems, or any kind of art. Would I miss it? My life would surely be less hectic, spiritually speaking. I am curious, but curious the way I am curious about what it is like to be something I can’t even conceive of being, like a stone, or the sound of water dripping. Another state of being I will have to write my way toward, I guess.” (web)

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September 13, 2018

Marc Pietrzykowski


It’s not a beautiful thing, not really;
It’s just the way the evening light
Sliced up by the structure’s unwalled frame
Signals the end of a day’s work;
And how follows an adiós
Hasta mañana to the crew, and finally
The long, liquid drive back home.
Or how tonight
You have set out candles
And made a special dinner,
Or perhaps your boss
Has given you hell again so we vent
And munch crackers,
Then go out and drink too much
and maybe sing

And probably cry.
Or else your latest test results
Peeking out from their envelope
Mean our hill is growing steeper,
And so begins another night
Of soft, rare whispers,
The invocation of future memory,
Warmth mingling until sleep overcomes us on the couch.
It’s not beautiful, but it is all we will ever have;
How the tears and the gentle hand
Pouring the wine
Etch the same lines into time,
The scratching of your chest
Along my back; because at the end
Of each day’s work is you, and at the end of you
Is twilight, and then another day, and then perhaps another.

from Rattle #17, Summer 2002


Marc Pietrzykowski: “Poetry has saved my life more times than I can count, and I’m pretty good at math.” (web)

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