Richard Krawiec



wrapped in a robe against the chill, morning birdsong

squash blossoms on a withered vine, morning birdsong


in a sparse yard, a baby fists grass to his mouth,

girl braids her hair with lavender, adorning birdsong


all night the bulb burns yellow into her damp cell

bars clank, she shuffles to breakfast mourning birdsong


darkening sky, the wind frenzies trees side to side

the raucous crows grow silent, a warning birdsong


Ah Richard, sitting alone in the bamboo grove,

Listen - the screams of burning trees, no more birdsong




the white rush over rocks and moss in the river

children scream and slide down the moss in the river


a grieving mother kneels to strike a match to flame

the paper boat with wooden cross in the river


banks of goldenrod dip and bow in the soft wind

the swirling of flower buds tossed in the river


inside a cabin lit waxy by kerosene

a man remembers what he’s lost in the river


is there any way to reckon the cost, Richard,

of the ashes sliding down moss in the river?




waiting all month for a fleet glimpse of fox at dusk,

one dark shadow glides the underbrush - fox at dusk


pearls of sweat slowly dripping down the glass of beer

at the feeder, cardinals and wrens flock at dusk


the boy rings the bell, slides his hand in his pocket

on the girl’s dresser, unopened ring box at dusk


lost and stumbling across the drought-dry river bed

last patch of green against the gray rocks at dusk


you didn’t think of the low creak of the porch chair,

Richard, scaring off the black fox at fiery dusk




outside the porch, heaters and peepers trill the dark

a sudden winching of cicadas trill the dark


the woman peers at the Celtic cross in her yard,

all stone swirls and arches, love knots that thrill the dark


a young owl screeches, stalked by racoon or possum,

until that silence speaks of the kill in the dark


coffins unload from the bellies of gray transports

a balding father leans on a sill in the dark


smell of smoke, your dog whimpers, runs up the back stairs

moonflowers unfurl, richard, white fire to fill the dark




Richard Krawiec has published three books of poems, most recently Women Who Loved me Despite(Second Edition). His work appears in dozens of literary magazines, including The Ghazal Page, New Orleans Review, Drunken Boat, Shenandoah, sou’wester, Lavure Litteraire, Dublin Review. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the NC Arts Council(twice), and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He is founder of Jacar Press, a community active press whose most recent publication is Ghazal Cosmopolitan he Culture and Craft of the Ghazal by Shadab Zeest Hashmi. For this challenge he thought a lot about the different uses and definitions of ‘fire’, from the light of a bulb glaring into a prison cell, to a ritual burning of a boat for one who has died, to the way a moonflower makes a cool ‘fire’ in the night.