Thursday, July 2, 2015, at 7:00 pm, poets Jeff Friedman and Dzvinia Orlowsky will continue the eighth season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)
Jeff Friedman’s sixth collection of poetry, Pretenders, was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in February 2014. His poems, mini stories and translations have appeared in many literary magazines, including American Poetry Review, Poetry, New England Review, The Antioch Review, Poetry International, Hotel Amerika, Vestal Review, Quick Fiction, Flash Fiction Funny, Smokelong Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, 100-Word Story, Plume, Solstice, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and The New Republic. Dzvinia Orlowsky’s and his translation of Memorials by Polish Poet Mieczslaw Jastrun was published by Lavender Ink/Dialogos in August 2014.
Dzvinia Orlowsky is a poet and translator. She is the author of five collections of poetry published by Carnegie Mellon University Press including A Handful of Bees, reprinted in 2009 as a Carnegie Mellon Classic Contemporary; Convertible Night, Flurry of Stones, recipient of a 2010 Sheila Motton Book Award; and her most recent, Silvertone, for which she was named Ohio Poetry Day Association’s 2014 Co-Poet of the Year. Her translation from Ukrainian of Alexander Dovzhenko’s novella, The Enchanted Desna, was published by House Between Water in 2006; and Jeff Friedman’s and her co-translation of Memorials by Polish Poet Mieczyslaw Jastrun was published by Dialogos in 2014. She is a Founding Editor of Four Way Books and a recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a Massachusetts Cultural Council poetry grant. She serves as core faculty of poetry at The Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College, Boston, Massachusetts, and as Guest Lecturer in poetry at Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island.
MUD / Jeff Friedman
Out of the river, mud climbed
broken embankments, crooked staircases,
gleaming hulls, the corpses of cows,
the skulls of cars. Out of the river,
mud entered our homes, roasted
its dinners in our ovens, filled our glasses
with gritty wine. At night, it made our beds, tucking
sheets and spreading covers. Mud said
its prayers and wept for us. It ticked in our clocks.
It wore our shoes and socks, plastered our ankles.
Mud took over banks, gas stations,
the mayor’s office. Mud baked our bread.
It spoke a thousand tongues, translated
our deepest needs into simple sentences.
It filled out our forms, smudging the signature line.
When mud wavered, even for a moment,
it kneeled in soggy churches, renewed its faith.
With its conscience clear, mud mixed
its own cocktail and went out to spread
the word, its logic impossible to rebut.
Mud drove a convoy of trucks unloading
cargoes of itself. Mud dammed the flood.
It hired us to work, raking mounds of it
into gardens and carrying it in pails.
When we looked up, even the sun was mud.
JESUS LOVES FAT PEOPLE / Dzvinia Orlowsky
…Scrawled in pencil on my daughter’s Algebra book
above a hand-drawn crucifix
The cross so deliberately and thickly drawn,
it could’ve been pulled off the wall
of some rustic pagan-Roman Catholic Church
leaving one of the stations unoccupied
and suffer-free. Tonight my thin
daughter push her food away.
Everything is either a vein or fat or a strand
of hair clinging like a slack tourniquet.
It wasn’t long that long ago that I weighed
myself, my body disappeared,
the softness my husband couldn’t find
leaning his head on my shoulder,
running his hand across my hips,
sharp rims of a broken clay bowl.
Our family is gnarled with branches,
anemic and leafless, specks of filtered sun,
bits of meals inhaled quickly, looking over one’s
shoulder until not eating felt released
and air-pure. Is this another lesson
I’ll lie awake in bed wondering if she’ll turn
her stomach inside out to be rid of, then
swear she’s not one of those girls
whose damaged, marked bodies rise up
through their throats?
I want to ask Jesus, already erased.