On the train from Kraków

On the train from Kraków

Today begins with the beautiful

green eyes of the Gestapo
officer. He looks

at you & you look



straight at him






sharp command:
You to the left*

to the left, shredded fingertips
to the left, beat mares boiled into glue

to the left, fields more fields more fields more
to the left, twisted dandelion heads, cut-off view

to the left, sound of – then bird body, slumps
to the left, sky bloody, sunset, star-of-David-hue

to the left, a rainbow
to the left, isn’t that a sign of God
to the left, be kind to strangers, they may be angels in disguise

to the left, packed bags
to the left, you forgot your homework
to the left, your prayers

to the left, perhaps tomorrow
to the left, perhaps there’ll be

to the left, tits, vagina out, cock out, camera out
to the left, black out

to the left, swamp swallows shoes
to the left, repeat, repeat, repeat (rhyme, reason)

to the left, discarded fingertips
to the left, discard
to the




birds up up
black marks fissure sky
moon is all outline

yiddish screams
in circles, tower of
wings, strong


where are the rest of you going
so purposefully?

to Krosno not yet occupied
by the Germans?

take me with you
to shelter from electric walls, electric
of God

nose-dives straight to the heart

will mother shoo any of you away
as she sweeps the floor?

head caught in the grate, wrings

so quickly you become the abject, you
of the forever moving


in what culture
is bird

beak caught at the core,
breach, barbed wire keeps safe

and will you make it there alive?

everywhere in Poland
cooked into pies


Straight At Him

as copper oxidises &
graphite scars into
diamond cold as sighs, this
is evolution: bottom-heavy
trees, spindle arms leak
sunlight. a crate of gold
teeth. mortality between

two glances. has it come
to this. not knowing if fear
marks you for lightning
or randomness, he orders
you to the right while everyone
on the left is


















& you stand there, among the poplars,
watching like a brave soldier



what will be
remembered: hills,
pylon giants, the filigree
bark. how fat

helps bodies burn. what the rosary
made of bread is
to the accordion player with one
leg. at what age girls

began their periods behind carbide
towers. block 19. sweat
of synthetic rubber, tampons

doused in gasoline. then

fireworks. take a shower. cry
when you see water. crisp
light splurges a tractor chugging up
asphyxiated ladybirds.



& later, the mushroom pickers
will report:

you in the forest.

The lollipop lady with her smile
confirms. The cobbler’s

not too sure. An ugly man’s
mistaken for a Jew

but no one dares
correct the officer.

A load of babies. The theatre
across the lake is showing

Aeschylus. The Persians
are dying with such

drama & doctors
prod the bloated heads

of boys. Everything
is haze & holding

on. Soon the cold
will rat out those

in hiding, Run.

Author’s note: In Gestapo ‘selektions’, being sent ‘to the left’ meant death. Reference to Beyonce’s ‘Irreplaceable’ is unintended, although difficult to avoid.

A Guide to the Dying

The Faithless is back in the room with the Dying. A nurse knocked on the door to administer more narcotics, and the family looked away.