What Reading Means To Me
There are books I love.
When I read them I feel tears
Come to my eyes. You know
What I mean. Sometimes
You’ll be sitting in a car
Reading a novel you’ve read before
Waiting for your wife or husband
To get done with the shopping
And you come to a part
About something so close
To you that you feel the writer—
Even if she’s making it up—
Must have in some past life
Lived that moment you lived
In some life, lived a pain
So hard you want to take
The writer’s hand and hold it
Against your own chest
And say nothing.
Sonnet about Grieving
Frost’s “Home Burial” moves me a lot,
but some people are turned off by the thought
of the dead baby’s body in the parlor,
the mom in the poem who mourns so long.
“Get over it,” they say.
Get over it?
On his death bed, my dad was still grieving
for his mom who died when he was five,
and I’m still grieving for him ten years
after his death. Grieving doesn’t stop
like a TV drama you can turn off.
Forgive me for telling and not showing
but this pain I feel for my dad and the pain
he felt for his mom are what connects us all,
as sure as the turning of the earth.
Dying: A Love Sonnet
His wife believes in choices, mistakes,
Damnation and the unavoidableness
Of suffering. He believes simply
That things happen as they happen.
He sees this clearly in the children
They’ve had. There’ve been too many
Babies, and he waits for something
To save him, pull him up to heaven.
At night he reads the bible, watches TV,
The old horror movies in black and white
That offer nothing to the monsters,
And salvation to the young and saved.
Will he die soon? He hopes so.
He’s sick of hate. He’s sick of love.
He was born in a refugee camp in Germany in 1945.
He was 1 pound 8 ounces. He was
a leaf of grass. He was lovely.
He was born dreaming his mother’s dream
of flying like a robin through the sky
and eating everything
that was pure and good and golden.
And then he smashed into a wall
and was dead, and the nurses
wrapped him up and put him
in the grave with all of the others.
If you are waiting
for your dog to speak
you can stop waiting
I have heard him
His words were a thin
line of pure emotion
spread like gravy
across the prairie
and if you want to know
what he spoke about
I can tell you that too:
loneliness in the dark
death in small places
the importance of a gentle hand
John Guzlowski is a writer whose work appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, The Ontario Review, Chattahoochee Review, Atticus Review, Modern Fiction Studies and other journals both here and abroad. Guzlowski’s poems about his parents’ experiences in Nazi concentration camps appear in his books Lightning and Ashes, Third Winter of War: Buchenwald, and Language of Mules. His novel Road of Bones about two German lovers separated by war is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. Writing of Mr. Guzlowski’s poetry, Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz said, “He has an astonishing ability for grasping reality.”