Thursday, March 27, 2014

Crusty Lena (by Denise Janikowski-Krewal)

Crusty Lena from the Pizza joint
thought that all sailors were her heroes.
Not for obvious reasons

Didn't give a rat's patouti
about war games and politics;
didn't think that
their woven blues were hot.
Her desires leaned more to worn,
mussed up messes

A sailor once saved her day,
when she accidentally locked her purse
(and Ramone's tickets)
in her Dodge Omni.
While her girlfriends
swore at her in 15 languages
they they tried to learn at Berlitz,
the wholesome shore leave
picked her locks,
saving her face.
Another bluecoat danced
with her plain and shy friend
in a bar.
Even though he was flammable,
the anchor-tattooed arm
made her perpetually sad
girlfriend smile.

Lena remembered
her aunt telling her
to always treat a sailor
to a drink or a meal
because they were away from home
and lonesome.

So Lena gave the drunk sailors
a ride to their hotel and dropped them
into the hands of an understanding concierge

As she waited
her last table of the night
the boys in blue politely placed their order
with the middle-aged woman
who was weathered,
but still had a twinkle in her eye.

“2 pepperoni and one with everything...

on the house tonight, boys,” she said.

by Denise Janikowski-Krewal, February 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

Denise Janikowski-Krewal, Poet. 1959-2014.

I can't write any poetry as of late, it seems.

Regular readers know that Denise died just two weeks ago today, and there has been a quite noticeable vacuum in my creative life.  I have every reason to believe that with time things will return to "normal."

Denise was my cousin, and as I said before, she was the sister that I never had.  In the last three years we had become so very close and our writing developed together.  We were on the phone every week, sometimes every day. We would email drafts of our work to each other and demand answers for what the other was trying to say, all the while helping to shape each other's poetry and fiction into something that we hoped was respectable and worthwhile.

My writing partner is gone, and I almost feel like I don't know how to put words on paper anymore.  I know it is just fear, though.

As soon as I post this, I am going to close the browser and find myself staring at a blank page of Libre Office on my desktop.

What I do with it might just well determine where I go from this point on in my writing.  I watched one of my favorite movies, "Slacker" on YouTube last night, and was reminded of one of my favorite themes - that with each of our thoughts, the universe splits into another universe that we chose not to inhabit, while we go on in the one we did choose.  Things from other universes sometimes pop up in our dreams, and so we might have contact with all the other things that might have been.

What a hoot.

If I could dream Denise alive again, it would be the first thing I would do.

On the paper is the memory of the choices we never made, perhaps.  Or maybe it is just a dream.

Memory eternal.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Goodbye, for Now...

It was with the heaviest heart that I had to bid farewell to Denise this past Friday.  My cousin, my dear friend, my poetry collaborator, and the sister I never had departed this earth in the early morning hours.

The world is a colder and darker place, suddenly.

I will be reposting some of Denise's work here for a while, and her husband Todd is going to try to get me some of her latest poems, and I will be sure to publish them as soon as we can.  She had a couple of notebooks full of new poetry, and was writing in the hospital right up to the end.

Please keep her dear, loving, and devoted husband Todd in your prayers.  Her funeral will be this Thursday in Racine, Wisconsin.  If you need information regarding time and place, please feel free to email me at  I will get back to you as soon as I can. You can read a bit about her life if you click on this sentence.

I am in agony over losing her.  I know that many of you loved her poetry, and more importantly, loved her. She was truly one of a kind, and one of the sweetest and most genuine human beings I have ever known.  Her poetry was wonderful, and as she told me just a short time ago, it seems, she had "not quite hit her stride yet" as a poet - it was only getting better.

I will have more information and reposts of her work here, as well as links to her soundcloud account, where you can listen to her reading her own works.  A true treasure.

Please keep our family in your prayers, and please keep reading.  That is what Denise would like, I think I am safe in saying.

May her memory be eternal.

Tom (Janikowski)

Denise and me at a tapas bar two summers ago.  She was fond of saying "I thought you said 'topless'..."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Barometric Drop

Watching the tornado
Swirling, whirling,
Around your fragile
Hearing the sound,
The warning,
Out of my power
To pull back,
Change course,
Shuttering against
Rattling your spirit,
Releasing a siren,
Invoking a miracle
From benevolent clouds
For the phoenix
In you
To rise
From the debris

Based on We Write Poems Prompt 195, Weather Report

Saturday, January 4, 2014

january freeze

Derek will die on the street tonight;
 in the end, it will most likely be the cold that gets him,
but Derek will die on the street tonight.

he gave the finger to the day shelter lady
"I ain't no one's problem - just my own."
and looking to score some H 
goes out into the cold
and Derek will die on the street tonight

slush-shuffled until slush was ice
and spittle-freeze river 
made a chin-glacier knife
but freezing to death 
while looking to score some H 
is better than your heart bursting open 
all over your plate.

so Derek will die on the street tonight

I watched him shuffle with frost-bit toes 
and shuffle ragged, shuffle slow.
going to sit down under the stairs by the levee
where Derek would die on the street tonight.

but I know you all have it hard
because your heating bill is high
and you got aches and pains and you don't know why,
and little Justin is getting a "C" in math

so we all have it hard.

and lots of folks make choices.

and that, my friends, is why
Derek will die on the street tonight.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Flash in the Hubble

Another portal gone
Rid of,
Relief from the dejected
Alternate life
Staring across
Another universe
By the sparkling,
Dimensional promises

Based on We Write Poems Prompt #194, Happy New Year

OTC, mostly

a bent-faced little daydream
and the old man snortin' cheese
bloody on the underside
muddy on the knees

“no one sells for less”
I seen it on TV
I seen it on the street
get behind me when I talk to you
don't make me repeat

take a box
and a can
and a smack-mouth treat
I seen it on TV
I seen it on the street

when a bent-faced daydream
gets all short
and the box
and the can
and a holy-water h-bomb
starter kit court

“no one sells for less”
I seen it on TV
I seen it on the street
get behind me when I talk to you
don't make me repeat

and the little ragged muffinman
hanging high on 6th avenue
look at that
look at that
look at his eyes
he got that bleeding dreamsmell
going on inside

but its okay, little molly lady,
no one sells for less

and little molly lady
sweaty pilly-sweater shufflemouse
hanging sad behind the
mustache man

“no one sells for less”
I seen it on TV
I seen it on the street
get behind me when I talk to you
don't make me repeat

but now that bent-faced little daydream
and that old man snortin' cheese
bloody on the underside
bloody on his knees

the starter kit opened
the starter kit closed
and when a bent-faced daydream
gets all short
and it gets all of those
and the box
and the can
and the cheese
and the cheese
and a holy-water h-bomb
starter kit, please

bloody on the underside
bloody on his knees
bloody on the lips
and bloody on the cheese

“no one sells for less”
I seen it on TV
I seen it on the street
I seen it everywhere
don't make me repeat

hey Steve, you okay?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gimme Heels

We always wore them:
Red leather pumps,
Mirrored black patents,
Snakeskin toe crushers,
Four inch,
Pink ribboned
Giggly stompers
Trudging through
Midwestern blizzards,
Skating in parking lots
To a corner gin mill
Uppers splattered
With spillage from
Quarter tappers,
Cigarette singed soles
By sot-dropped embers
On a dance floor
Tacky from Jack and Coke
Snapped heel lifts
Crossing gravel laden alleys
Cursing the walk home,
Back for more
Every weekend
Never quite
Learning the lesson