Monday, October 26, 2009

Conversation, with refrain

A Provincial Life

The old house breathed slowly,
       (cracked in the ribs from a night
out drinking and a day spent
creaking painfully, aware
it breathed its last.
       (First, its head was chopped
off—a kind of lobotomy, you know—
       then brains scooped out and
belly distended in a sigh).
I hope the house knows that I will miss it,
       (especially the scaffolding).
I will remember your fall from glory
when no one else does.
It is a provincial life.
How are we so old and
so young
at the same time?
       (Am I not who I once was?
Am I not who I will be?
       I am, I am).
The dirt speaks of eons
       (I speak of a lifetime).
Can I channel Frost?
       (I, too, am a swinger of
       branches reaching down like
long fingers).
How old is anyone, anyway,
if all our atoms are just
It is a provincial life.
We set off, a pair of love birds,
off to see other love birds
       (my wings, however, were too
slick with oil
       to fly).
The Bride and Groom looked at each other,
and I, I looked at you
It is a provincial life.

Justine Bienkowski

Thursday, October 22, 2009


After Francisco Clemente’s Self-Portrait with Lemon Heart

I could not help but notice him,
Poised at the citron stand,
Hands covered in fruit juice
And sticky with heat.

He called to each who passed him by,
“Citron! Citron!” thrusting lemon rounds
Into their faces so that each
May catch the fragrance.

“Citron! Citron!” he scowled,
Gap-toothed, face
Pressed with a fine ash,
Easily mistaken for beard stubble.

I thought the lemon stand befitting of him,
Him covered in an acidic scowl,
Covered in acidic juices.
I wonder how he fell into his sour crop.

He seems more ash than skin,
More dirt than person,
Sleepless yet bright-eyed—maybe crazed—
Crying, “Lemons! Lemons!”

Justine Bienkowski



Were I not yours, do you believe
You would have indulged me? The trees
Seem to agree, waving their
Bracken arms above their heads; they’re
Sure I am just abandoned leaves.

I fear abandonment, conceive
Your boredom echoing clear, achieve
A quick heart. Would you think me fair
       Were I not yours?

Stretching and moaning, we the trees
Concede our doubt, our falling leaves
Will prove to you concern for tears
In bone and thought. Are we a pair?
Would you love? Would I secede,
       Were I not yours?

Justine Bienkowksi

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ars Poetica


I spend my time threading needles,
Reluctant to put thread to cloth,
Dragging string through tender eyes
But abandoning each in the leaves of pages.

The weather’s eyes turn colder, now,
Misting my days with chilled rain
And darkened clouds. Thunderheads
Grace my vision, threatening to spill

Over, like cups overflowing, not just
Half empty or half full. Her shuffling feet
Crunch leaves beneath the breath of fall,
Sprinkling dead oak bodies into cement cracks.

I pick dead leaves up and thread them
On my needles, collecting dead thoughts
For holey sweaters. I leave my needles
On shelves and in cars: lingering, stagnant ideas.

I’ll write in the sky with my embroidery thread,
Signal my dreams to birds, try to knit sweaters
To keep fingers and pens warm. Blessed
Projects, lost in brain waves, lost to paper leaves.

Justine Bienkowski


The Sunny Side

A surgery of sorts,
Each slice an operation of sense
Performed with peculiar taste
And lovingly crafted to a form of lust.

Each luscious wonder smiling upward,
Each like an albino pancake with a treat on top,
One mountain of gelatinous sun,
Jiggling in just the jolliest way.

Each precious yolk is saved,
Lain in virgin white plains,
Cut in delicate circles,
Waiting for pricks and prods.

First the whites are consumed,
Then, behold!
Each precious yolk,
Burst of silken light.

Justine Bienkowski

Friday, October 2, 2009

This poem does not exist

Please forget its existence immediately upon reading.

Both Easy and Difficult

You see, there (yes, there) your desk once stood.
And there, maybe in that dusty corner,
A forgotten guitar had lain.
You see, there, your easel and paint brushes.
And maybe, there, your pillow once rested,
Your face pressed tight into it,
Tight just like the night you slept on the couch,
On the eve of your leaving.

It is not that I miss you,
Because I cannot forget your words,
But on nights like this,
When the cold creeps into the bed
And my toes freeze,
I cannot help but remember a time
When life made sense in little moments.

It is not that I still love you,
But that on dark nights I guess I do forget.

You see, I am still finding symbols of your leaving me,
A sock here and there,
And even though I've moved it all to the closet,
I still find souvenirs of a different time.
How do you remove someone from your life?

I cannot help but remember a time before your craze,
Before the tears you made,
When things were stable and I had a home.

I do not love you.
I do not miss you.
I miss a ghost that does not exist,
A remembrance of "always" and promises
That dissipates between fingers
Like the burning of a cigarette.

Justine Bienkowski