Poems by Piotr Gwiazda


from "Ether"


Nothing happens, something does.
First nature, then culture.
First thanks, then tanks.

First handshake, then bullet.

First eyesore, then gentrification.

First speeches, then more speeches


followed by the Big Lie.

“To-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow.”

(Never repeat yourself.)


And the plain truth? And le mot juste?

And birdsong? And mother tongue?

The reconstruction of dreams.



OHIO AND WEST

You can read Epictetus or drive your Toyota Echo
into a lamppost. You can watch a movie about angels
or lose your way in the valley of sexual dependency.
You can teach a person to swim or torture a person
in the name of national security. You can say to your doctor
“Pinch me, I’m dreaming,” drink a glass of water.
You can take pictures of yourself or smash your camera
or you can marry, change an opinion, move to Ohio.
You can say “America first” or join a social movement
or you can slowly decay, jump from a roof, write a proposal.
You can test a new product or experience a vision
in the grove. You can play an overlong game of Risk
or be abducted by aliens. You can assume a pose.
Defeated, you can say “I did what I could.”
You can focus 100% on what’s immediately before you:
a password, a spider web, gift-wrapping, a sunset.
You can ask yourself three uncomfortable questions:
1) would I lay down my life, 2) am I happy enough,
3) where is my wallet, then drive your Toyota Echo
all the way to Ohio, to watch a movie about aliens.
No matter what you do, you will feel smart, renewed.
You can say to America “Pinch me, I’m dreaming,”
or, defeated, read to your doctor “I did what I could.”
You can teach a person to slowly decay or torture a person
in the valley of sexual dependency or change an opinion
in the name of national security. You can focus 100%
on an overlong game of Risk, test a vision in the grove,
experience a new product or be abducted by Epictetus,
take pictures of a social movement, marry a proposal.
You can drink on a lamppost, smash a glass of water,
assume a pose, swim on a roof, renew a spider web
with your camera, ask yourself three questions:
one about sacrifice, one about happiness, one about
gift-wrapping, then lose your smart way in a sunset.
No matter what you do, first enter the password.