Wednesday Jun 19

Krawiec Richard Krawiec has published 2 novels, a collection of short stories, a book of poetry, 4 plays and numerous stories, poems, essays, and feature articles. He has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the NC Arts Council. He teaches writing to people in homeless shelters, literacy classes, housing projects, and elsewhere. He teaches Beginning and Intermediate Fiction Writing as part of the Carolina Courses Online program for UNC Chapel Hill. He is the recipient of the 2009 Excellence in Teaching Award from UNC for these courses. His work appears in, among other places, Shenandoah, Sou'wester, Witness, many mountains moving, 2Rivers, Houston Literary Review, NC Literary Review, Artful Dodge, etc. His poetry book, Breakdwon: A Father's Journey was a finalist for the 2009 Indie Award in Poetry.


She Hands Me the Razor

when I ask
she hands me the razor
trust or faith I don't know
where to begin to stroke
upward downward
I press the three whip-thin
honed edges against her skin
how much pressure
does she need do I want
it is always a matter of finding
another's limits, one's own boundaries
I pull the blade slowly
across the arched muscle of her calf
the stretched tautness of her thigh
a few wisps of black hair escape
my first passthrough
I press harder feel that catch
which halts my breath in mid exhaust
no rose blooms so I return
to the world of breathing slower
now scraping off the lather
with mincing strokes which reveal
each dimple freckle wisp
of curved black leg hair missed
I consider, like Michelangelo
where to daub stroke edge
a smooth scythe so I might
reveal instill the many
smooth faces of God


Approaching Grace

a woman wearing a towel
shawl over a long dress
stands in the rush of tide
beating a bodhran
her body chants
from foot to foot
the white caps crash her hem

across the flagellant water
a crimson sun rises
above the mast of a shrimp trawler,
burns through the heliotrope haze,
the woman chants, beats, sways
her offered prayers lost
in the gutteral glissade
of the sand-crunching waves

the woman I love arches
a sun salutation
her mermaid hair flows
wild tangles in the breeze
like the sea oats that shiver
their seed heads on the crest
of the weed-protected dune

along the railinged porches
tourists peep out
tentative as snails
housewives in bathrobes
men in gym shorts and T-shirts
they smile shyly at me
in my paisley boxers

I look at the beckoning surf
a Japanese mystic
claims the ocean contains
every thought that ever existed
the priestesses of Sangora
baptize with this wisdom
on the coasts of South Africa
I approach grace by watching

the feral curl of white froth,
rising sun, chanting woman
the red infusion of morning light
on my lover's already glowing face


waiting to be beaten

an old rug hangs
from the wires
before the Royal Inn
a stucco wound
masquerading as comfort
for the perpetual hopeless
men of bag-sagged eyes
and 4-days beards
women bound with barbed wire
and rose tattoos on wine-
flaccid thighs
even the rip
of cocaine
or a bloodied fist
fails to move them
beyond this

dust-laden hairball bed
to a streaked window
where the rising sun
glistens yellow
then white



the mockingbird sings me back

to the glass-toxic streets
of East Durham; barred
windows, a rancid coal stove,
the time-thickening heat
when another mocking bird
sang me away
from the bloated dead mice,
grease-coated walls, bride
by filth and distance
wailing on the mattress;
sang me to wonder
so that I stood
on the termite-crumbling porch
gape-mouthed, and let the sweat
course through the soot
on my face, overwhelmed
that a bird knew
the world's secret
every voice can be ours
can pry open a shelled heart,
and no voice can speak
to a heart deafened by sorrow.


Through it All

today nothing moves
like it's intended

the old van's brakes burn
the dog's leg fibrillates
mid-air from the tumor

mouth busy with frost
I thrust frozen fingers
deep into pockets too thin

still the breaking sun
seeps through this gray batter
the sole fifty-seven year-old man

on this commuter street
I start once more to walk