Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal and Orloski

Leo’s Crows

The crows imbibe your words
in the sun soaked morning.
From the wires they sing their
drunken winter song making
us rise from our slumber.
We get out of bed and throw
our blankets to the side.
Your words shine like the sun.
Over the meadows the crows
fly and sing.   There is great
comfort to see the crows take
their daily song far away.

The Blank Page



“In poetry everything is permitted” -Nicanor Parra

How could one improve

on the blank page

when one is drawing a blank?


Throw in a fish,

a stone,

and a woman.


Get rid of the fish,

throw the stone

in a stream.


Turn the woman

into a mermaid.


Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal lives in Los Angeles County, where he works in the mental health field.  He was born in Mexico. His first book of poetry, Raw Materials, was published by Pygmy Forest Press. His poems in English and Spanish have appeared in The American Dissident, The Blue Collar Review, and Pemmican Press.

Dziadek’s House


for Robert A. Davies

December, 1954,

“Shit” was a four-letter word

uttered by Joseph every time father

Charlie said, “It’s time we visit Dziadek’ house.”

Family’s ’52 Pontiac too good for the neighborhood,

each slow step taken on unconsecrated ground

leading to Dziadek’s palacy on Brynn Mawr Street

reminded Joseph the visit was only temporary.


Outside Dziadek’s door, a strong “hooch” smell,

an odor Charlie always worried Scranton cops

might detect, demand a bottle.

Joseph waited impatiently for someone

to answer the door knock —

Aunt Sophie appears, babushka & apron,

her pretty black hair hung down to buttocks,

she had nice teeth, a wobble and limp,

newspaper stuffed in well-kept W.P.A. shoes.


Disobedience was Joseph’s only way –

he disliked Sophie’s icon,

the Black Madonna of Czestohowa,

the wall-hung Cross that looked very foolish;

a man like Tarzan caught between dirty windows,

and Dziadek just sat at the kitchen table,

reverently eating homemade soup, chuck-on-a-bone,

wiping his chin with tablecloth edge, inebriated,

coughing, unable to remember Joseph’s name.


Joseph once had a Dziadek

who served in the Armia Krajowa.

He could not speak English,

and Joseph never got to hear about

a family in a horse-drawn wagon

who fled advancing Wehrmacht.

Joseph never drank hooch

at the Brest-Litovsk victory parade,

but he felt Dziadek’s coal-dust breath,

Black Lung.


Aunt Sophie informed Dziadek

his tall-round aluminum tub

was filled with clean water, ready for bath,

work clothes pressed for the week after

Bozie Narodzienie.

The child retreated into the parlor,

Joseph could not stand the sight of Diazdek’s old ass,

he preferred playing with the miner’s hard-hat

and attached flashlight –

Non-everlasting light shined upon

an abandoned outhouse,

regularly patronized by a resting mailman,

& where the Sheeny Man spent the night.


The cat chewed red & white yarn,

and Joseph heard Aunt Sophie stamp her foot,

deliriously telling Charlie, over & over,

Tatusz could not help cashing your Army checks,

Charlie, please you gotta forget…

Times were hard while you served in New Guinea.”


And Joseph wondered how, how hard war?

And the cat changed yarn into a toy.


Upon a revered black stone,

Sophie sharpened a knife, killed a chicken.

Joseph cringed, looked away into a framed photograph,

young men in military uniforms, on horseback.

All’s quiet on the kitchen front,

& Joseph secretly stood on a wooden stool,

kept watch for Stuka dive-bombers, Soviet snipers,

and reached for a pack of dynamite sticks,

kept hidden by Dziadek atop a window sill.

He wobbled, fell to the floor,

“Shit,” he said – “Swinia,” said Charlie.   

and Dziadek settled in luke warm water,

he did not want to hear anything.

The cat kept working by the door,

Charlie said “it’s time we head home.”

He hands Dziadek’s Christmas present to Joseph –

an authentic World War I steel helmet.

Aunt Sophie cried, wrapped leftovers,

the miner’s dynamite sticks were left behind,

& Dziadeks’ bruised & moldy helmet came home,

became Joseph’s 6th grade presentation,

all the Taylor Borough kids tried it on.


Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CCDJOrlov@aol.com .

Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)

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 one month (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions).

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

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