Piotr Gwiazda


Who is it at the other end of this sentence?
Who is reading this? Who is listening
to the voice that comes from within
a house that grows dark by itself,
a house that shakes in the wind,
a house that tumbles through space?

Part animal and all human–
few memories and no future,
a face that grows strange by itself,
and two hands, almost perfect for digging,
digging up rocks, digging up roots,
undoing dead people’s work.

But death (since I called it by name),
death is the rocks and the roots,
death is your mother and father,
and if you hide from it

in a certain way you hide in it.

Under the spell of the stars
the living go on living
while the dead slowly forget them.
How do I know? How do I see?
I’m saying this through a medium.
The only use the dead have of the living.



Piotr Gwiazda is the author of three books of poems: Aspects of Strangers (Moria Books, selected for “Best Books of Poetry in 2015” by Scroll), Messages: Poems & Interview (Pond Road Press, 2012), and Gagarin Street (WWPH, 2005). He published two critical studies, US Poetry in the Age of Empire, 1979-2012 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and James Merrill and W.H. Auden (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). He has also translated two volumes by the Polish writer Grzegorz Wróblewski, Zero Visibility (Phoneme Media, 2017) and Kopenhaga (Zephyr Press, 2013). His essays and reviews have appeared in Asymptote, Chicago Review, Jacket2, the TLS, and other journals. He teaches in the Department of English at the University of Pittsburgh.