Richard Krawiec

Before we Fell Apart



we wandered New Orleans streets,
gleeful children unaware what we risked,
directionless and open to every thief
on the levee, every pigeon who wanted
to shit on our faces as we joined the line
to celebrate each parade rolling past.

So when we turned a new corner
South of the French Quarter
and found ourselves surrounded
by a marching Dixieland Band,
heavy-footed men and women,
in the thrall of ass-bobbing
dance of mourning,
we joined the procession

lifting our feet slowly, dropping
them as if gravity owned us;
and it did, pulled down
as we were by the weight
of two lives that still couldn’t
scrape together one rent,
or food without stealing

(so why not credit card
a flight to the Big Easy,
max out on gumbo and sazerac?
we were already entombed
and no one was going to roll
away the stone for our resurrection).

Brass combusted the song to flame,
clarinets tapped rapidly up
and down the steps of scales,
women rolled hips to welcome
the dead, men waved their arms
in churchlike praise, and we stepped in,
turned one more corner and found ourselves

alone, not even joined by faint notes
drifting off in the humid breeze.
The cobbled street were empty, as if the dancers,
musicians, never existed,  those glorious wails
never flew from tilted throats.  The funeral
gone, it was time to bury our own dead.







I used to wake
& notice the sun’s
glistering lace,
frost softening
Fall’s aureolin & cerise
like the notes
of a children’s choir,
thin and beautiful,
a glowing harmonic
deaf to the dark
crinkling brown
of impending
leaf scat.

They say depression
is grave dark
slow as Basho’s
frozen sea slugs
but it’s amber,
fossilized resin
that preserves
the limb-crushed
in its sealed
honey womb.

Light can only tease
from without
not sing from within
a melody of murky
shimmer not basso

Whatever luminous
bel canto plays
stays outside
your encasement
no longer airs
its melismata
inside your core.





Richard Krawiec


Richard Krawiec has published three books of poems, most recently Women Who Loved me Despite (Press 53).   His work appears in dozens of literary magazines, including New Orleans Review, Drunken Boat, Shenandoah, sou’wester, Dublin Review, Chautauqua Literary Journal, Spillway, North Dakota Quarterly, Blue Fifth ReviewPirene’s Fountain, etc.  He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize this year by two magazines.  In addition to poetry, he has published two novels, Time Sharing and Faith in What?; a story collection, And Fools of God, and four plays. His Creative Non-Fiction is shared now primarily through his Facebook blog. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the NC Arts Council(twice), and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He teaches online courses for UNC Chapel Hill, for which he won their Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009. He is founder of Jacar Press, a Community Active publishing company. He has worked extensively with people in homeless shelters, women’s shelters, prisons, literacy classes, and community sites, teaching writing.