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Friday, October 17, 2014


by John Z. Guzlowski

"The arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas marked the meeting of previously separate biological worlds." --"The Columbian Exchange" by J.R. McNeil, Learn NC (Painting: "Landing of Columbus" by John Vanderlyn, commissioned 1836/1837; placed 1847. Capitol Rotunda, Washington, D.C.)

trees paused
their slow growth
upward and outward
and leaves stopped
unfolding into
the waiting air

In the tallest branches
birds leaned
their crooked beaks
into the wind
and hushed

somewhere a boy stayed
his axe above the log
he was splitting

and waited
for the smallpox
to settle on his face

like a shaman’s
soft and loving

John Guzlowski’s writing has appeared in The Ontario Review, Atlanta Review, and Exquisite Corpse.  His poems about his parents’ experiences in Nazi concentration camps appear in his book Lightning and Ashes.