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Back in the Day by PAUL LOJESKI   Back in the day I smoked Pall Malls, unfiltered in the cool red package, when you could still smoke anywhere: on planes, in offices, in supermarkets, even in hospitals. Which I was doing that time of my father’s dying in the cancer hospital, in that bleak world […]

Three Poems by Paul Lojeski

by POETS' BASEMENT

Back in the Day

by PAUL LOJESKI

 

Back in the day

I smoked Pall Malls,

unfiltered in the cool

red package, when

you could still smoke

anywhere: on

planes, in offices,

in supermarkets,

even in hospitals.

Which I was doing

that time of my father’s

dying in the cancer

hospital, in that bleak

world of last breaths

and deadly waiting

rooms.  I lit one

and inhaled deeply,

sucking in the heat,

the poison, the high

I thought was real

as the organ player

out in the hall began

working the keys

and some cheerfully

annoying tune floated

into the sadness

and suffering, a music

so insultingly wrong

and out of place I felt

like going out there

and busting the thing

up, when he said,

You smoke too much.

I looked over at him,

my father, hooked

up to iv’s and machines,

his yellow skin a pasty

glow in the bright

fluorescent light,

staring straight up

at the ceiling, rigid,

his hands in fists,

looking like he was

trying to hold on

to something.

I said, You’re right.

But I kept on puffing

and puffing, trying

to hold on, too.

 

 

Newtown

by PAUL LOJESKI

 

And the fields

were laid bare;

that ample,

golden harvest

burning

in moonlight,

blades

of bright flames

scorching

a white sky.

Witnesses

broken by

an inexplicable

cruelty

and madness

huddled

in those

invisible

shadows,

crying out

in the gathering

storm

 

 

Night Flight

by PAUL LOJESKI

 

In dream in a battered subway

packed with the beaten

and insane, rattling along

 

under a burning city like

a refugee train in the Great

War, I was alone and lost.

 

I wanted a certain destination,

I was sure, but I’d forgotten its name

as the train screamed down

 

the tracks, roaring past

stations, never stopping until there

were no more platforms,

 

just the dark, glistening walls

of that dead stone.  Months passed

into years and I grew razor thin

 

and twisted and my clothes turned

to tatters and I no longer spoke

but grunted guttural sounds

 

like the others slumped about

on hard benches in that seething

blindness.  And the train sped

 

on and on through the black,

black tunnel.  And I didn’t care

where it was going.  I didn’t care.

 

Paul Lojeski’s poetry has appeared in journals and online, including at Counterpunch. He’s also the author of the satiric novel, The Reverend Jimmy Pup.  He lives with his wife and daughter in Port Jefferson, NY.

 

Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)

Poets Basement is now on Facebook. Find us as http://www.facebook.com/poets.basement.

To submit to Poets Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at counterpunchpoetry@gmail.com with your name, the titles being submitted, and your website url or e-mail address (if you’d like this to appear with your work).  Also indicate whether or not your poems have been previously published and where.  For translations, include poem in original language and documentation of granted reprint/translation rights.  Attach up to 5 poems and a short bio, written in 3rd person, as a single Word Document (.doc or .rtf attachments only; no .docx – use “Save As” to change docx or odt files to “.doc”).  Expect a response within two months (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions).

Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology.

For more details, tips and suggestions, visit http://crowvoice.com/poets-basement. Thanks!