Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cicadas (draft 1)

I've been trying to write this for a few weeks (or a few years). I don't know if I'll ever really be able to finish it.


Everything always returns to cicadas,
Even now, even tonight,
I cannot remember silence.
Even left to the cold recesses of my mind,
I am consumed by chirping.

What is it to be consumed?
A body left desirous?
A trembling lung?
An innocuous cough?
Consumption, consumption.

What is this cicada to me?
Is it my arm or my face?
Can I shed this skin to fly off?

There is a raw ache that rests low,
Low in the soul but in the chest,
Raw like the scraping of skin,
Ice hot and swelling,
A rough boulder in a dry throat:
Do people die from this?

I feel as if I might die,
Tonight, again,
Because again, tonight
I have to hear the tremble
In my mother's voice
As she says, "yes, again, again,"
And tonight, again,
I must retreat into some other world,
Some place far from the jailhouse phone calls,
Some place away from birdcage prisons,
Some place away from the tremors.

I must content myself with cicadas,
I must vibrate alongside them,
Not knowing any other way,
Not sure what two hands
Or two hearts,
Or family,
Mean anymore.

How many years have I listened to cicadas?
An echo from corner to corner,
From room to room,
Being unable to escape shadows and skeletons.
How many more years will cicadas come?

The phone lies dead,
A thing not of flesh,
Beating out the tones of my mother's calls.
Beating out a truth universally ignored and unspoken.
And so it seems I did not know
The days and nights my sister must have spent
In birdcages or under dirty bridges,
Because I simply "did not ask."

I think I'll ask, finally,
For cicadas to leave me,
But then what will be left but an ugly silence
And ugly, ugly bugs crawling over arms,
Beating, beating wings that do not lift.

Justine Bienkowski

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sapphic Stanzas


Fleur-de-lis, so grand you’ll be, laid upon a
Midnight scene, a lily among the trees, a
Monument for nobles, for poetry. But
Iris! You charm me,

Petaled arms that reach for a hand and curling
Knaves see castles, heralds and Florentines. A
Trinity, a budding between the shields of
Men who are knightly.

Fleur-de-lis! I wish to see sweetness, lilies;
Even just a taste would do to quench my thirst.
Solomon would be proud, you beacon,
Flower of lightness.

Justine Bienkowski

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Alfa Art Gallery Poem

Based off of this painting.

Desert, Desert, Dessert
Or, An Exultation for Rain

The rain drips down,
Moping, as rain typically does,

Curling its fingers lovingly around
Strands of silver cloud hair,

Drifting into blankets of tender fog,
Then descending into wild abandonment,

Laying down little raindrop heads
No larger than the eyes of needles.

The rain slips her curvy bodies
Down thin reeds and into the mouths of skulls,

Licking away the day's dust,
Licking away the day.

The shift comes softly,
Stealing through the night

On what seems like
The tiny padded feet of kittens.

It is gradual, the way in which she appears,
The way in which such things occur.

Gone are days when grayness was bemoaned.
Instead, exult! Rejoice!

Jubilation resonates within bodies,
Slowly drawing open lips.

All at once it is night,
Pulsing, hot night,

Full of slick, vibrating air.
All at once the rain falls hard.

A drum,
A drum.

The rain melts sugary bodies,
Melts holes into sand.

All at once--quiet.
All at once--rain.

Justine Bienkowski

Tuesday, September 8, 2009



From flaming breath does autumn spring,
From nervous steps, a run: she falls
From trees and sows herself in hearts.

From roots to stems, she settles in,
From valves to blood, she settles in.
From branch to branch, she settles in.

From floating leaves to kisses deep,
From soft impossibility.
From palms to grasps, she sings her spell:

From wings that play the windy nights,
From cracks in doors she saunters in,
From shadows, from warmth: such pause, now.

From autumn springs a time too slow,
From autumn springs a winter's bellow,
From autumn springs a deathly scene.

But also: possibility.

Justine Bienkowski