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Saturday, January 07, 2017


by John Guzlowski

At 530 in the morning
going out for the paper,
I see a guy walking
down the sidewalk
toward me.

He's not whistling
or singing a song.
He’s just walking
straight for me
and my paper.

Why do I have to
consider him
so early
in the morning?

Even before coffee,
even before CNN
brings me
my morning's share
of the sad news

from an airport in Florida
where a kid from Brooklyn
played violent video games
with real guns
real people?

Why do I have to
wonder about this kid
walking toward me,
straight as a razor
or a heart enraged?

Will he listen to
my sorrows,
hear my confession?
Will he say, hello?
Do me harm?

Will he say the word
so that our souls
will be healed,
or not?

All this thinking--
When all I want
is go back
and have the coffee,
and feed the cat,

and not watch
horror unrolling
like a killer snake
straight at me.

John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Rattle, Ontario Review, North American Review, Salon.Com, Crab Orchard Review, and many other print and online journals here and abroad.  His poems and personal essays about his parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees making a life for themselves in Chicago appear in his memoir in prose and poetry Echoes of Tattered Tongues (Aquila Polonica Press). Road of Bones, his novel about two German lovers separated by war, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press.  Of Guzlowski’s writing, Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz said, “He has an astonishing ability for grasping reality.”