Monday, October 13, 2014

All You Got Left

hijacked stares
and high-jacked stairs
looking for all the world
a loss

given to sucking his teeth
and malt liquor power shakes
wrapped in
fish-bone dyepaper
lost as a thousand
underwater lamps
shining on the path to atlantis

wrecked and wreaked
roped and doped
shelling the high heel goddess
man-sized artillery
shells and canister
super male vitality
satchmo nacho
give it quick and don't look back
wrap around the clock

he trips
he sneers
he quips
he tears
and a coal-black
(what is coal anymore?)
coal-black jacket
coal-black face
coal-black trousers
coal-black heart
hijack the goddess
and look for all the world

a loss

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jousting in Time, Again

at times I think we looked
like brother and sister
but then I come unglued
and the world begins to look
like a watercolor

I once said it was a feeling
like trying to swallow
too much under-chewed beef

it gets caught in the chest
but the lump in the throat
pays no attention to the glass of water
and I have to cough and spit
and cry out your name

and remember how gone you always were
and how gone you are right now

if I thought I could cry out
for your spirit to return
I'd probably have a crack at it
and see if your spirit
could edit a few pages of text for me

and chew the fat

and laugh

and make me believe

I have a sister

Monday, September 29, 2014

Jousting in Time

So you are gone,
and I didn't expect you to go
(as if anyone expects it),
but I thought you would have left
a forwarding address
(at the very least).

Gone are calls,
snarky posts at one another,
and stories only we appreciated;
names only we could pronounce.

So you are gone,
and I'm just sitting here.
Waiting it out.
Wondering how long.
Wondering which words will be my last.

I have started capitalizing words,
and using punctuation.


Your barometric drop
comes back daily.

Some days.

And I sit,
and I scribble down words,
and the words don't always come,
but every evening always does.

(like I said)
I just stack firewood
and try to keep warm.

Friday, August 29, 2014

lippy waits for it

the cannibal trailer park
stuffed with rice

han' it to me! gimme!”
coal faced stinkerman
diving at a stickybun

gimme! gimme!”
and his hand flaps at the wind

the wind tries to blow
but can only inject itself
in the free spaces between the teeth
teeth that the stinkerman tries to hone
on a tinker elf's file

tinker elf taps out a merry little tune
and the stinkerman taps along
taps an empty bottle against the ground
clack clack clack against the concrete
of the cannibal trailer park
stuffed with rice

tinker elf pulls out the stops
and the stinkerman pulls down his shorts
shows all the world what he's made of
nothing comes between him and the wind
the wind that tries to blow
but can only inject itself

tinker elf reaches over
with a platinum mallet
with a tiny tap
a tiny tap
a tiny little tap
the mallet rings a bell

and the coal faced stinkerman thinks back
thinks back to a time when he was young
when his face was pearly white
when his teeth were nice and tight
when the wind could blow
and the tinker elf
was just a story
and a song
and a melody in that
cannibal trailer park

stuffed with rice

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why, oh Why?

I – the fool.
Strung out in piles of confusion
waste-o-matic smiles
in piles of waste-o-matic dust -
dust in a huff of conversation.

The piles of confusion
came tumbling to a halt
in a winter-never-wonder
of a January freeze;
a January freeze
that made February all the colder

when a chicken bone whistle
played a merry hornpipe
and the drops of
crystal-cystal clear
chemical confusion
in a waste-o-matic grin
played heavy on the brow of life

There it was that I had to stop
and push myself away.
Tearing at my throat, I screamed
and shouted an inky ave
an inky ave,
and black as the
crystal-cystal drops
that clouded your pen

Crystal-cystal deafening
and perched on a dusty ledge
the haymaker moonbeam
let out in a windy morn
so dark that it looked
like that inky ave
inky ave
inky ave
that rattled around and
helped me tear my throat
so that my own clouded pen
ran dry.

That darkened, windy morn
was colder than any ever recorded
the science-men drooled
and rubbed their bellies
to see such a cold and frosty day.

We all knew why it was,
but we didn't let on to anyone.
The day was cold
when the fire went out,
when your spirit took leave,
kindly excused yourself,
said goodbye
more politely than can be expected.

You bowed low to the crowd,
and in silence the day grew cold.
Yours, no inky ave,
(but only light)
and I – the fool,

left to stack the firewood.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wishing Again

Tremble at the dawn -
don't let the words pass away.
Tremble at the dawn -
not a word pass away.

Staring, breathing.
Closed-eye shuffle
drawing near
Haunting, loving.
Breathe, and breathless
without fear.

Tremble at the dawn -
don't let the words pass away.
Tremble at the dawn -
not a word pass away.

Lost and losing
only one hope
drenched in sweat.
Found and silent
redeemed the ticket -
holy, holy debt.

Tremble at the dawn -
don't let the words pass away.
Tremble at the dawn -
not a word pass away.

And the words that you wrote,
of the words that you spoke,
of the worlds that you wrote,
of the worlds you could dream.

Tremble at the dawn -
don't let the words pass away.
Tremble at the dawn -
not a word pass away.

Tremble at the dawn.


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?