Saturday, September 24, 2016

Past, Present, and Future - Gifts for the Arrival of a New Baby


Is there anything better in life than holding a child in your arms? Your child, your grandchild?  I am blessed to have witness a miracle recently, a miracle that changed my existential status. From now on, I'm a Grandma, Babcia. 



These words seem rather abstract at the moment, as I think of my own Grandmas/Babcias and how ancient they seemed to me, when I was a child spending summer vacation in their village homes, eating strawberries and cherries in their gardens and orchards... No matter, age is not important. The new life of the new person just entering the world and opening his eyes to see the universe - this is what is important.



To welcome my Grandson, Adam Marcin (born in September), I spent the last month before travelling to Poland for this monumental occasion writing a long poem, entitled "I Give You the World" and illustrated with all sorts of photos - of family life and things I love to take pictures of, leaves, petals, clouds... There is a lot of personal material in that book, so I'm not going to make it publicly available. In fact, it has been printed in ten numbered copies and that's it. 





But some fragments of the poem can be pulled out to become independent pieces, and shared with readers. So here they are.

I Give You the World. A Poem for Adam

1.
I saw you 
with eyes closed
smiling

waves, shadows
changing direction—
where are you?

Adam, the first man
I give you the whole Earth
to name




2.
I give you my world with veins of gold
slicing through the drab clay of hours,
drops of amber hidden in sand,
bright turquoise among slabs of granite,
and pure diamonds in charcoal.

3.
I give you the strong scent of the Electron rose
with its hue of vermilion flames.
Here’s the gift of wings of the butterfly
shining yellow on a pink hibiscus
and the busy buzzing of bees
in the crape myrtle tree,
overshadowing my Sun-Land patio.

Can I also give you the ancient linden tree,
all awash with the bees gathering nectar
in my Grandma’s yard in Bielewicze—
the sweet noise of honey and July?

Careful, don’t catch any bees!
They die as they sting you.
Better save them from drowning
in the pool, bees are precious
they give us honey and fruit, lots of fruit.



4.
I give you rocks in the riverbed, 
white, grey, and veined with pink —
so you step on the solid foundation
and grow up with both feet on the ground
strong and stronger each day.

I give you water laughing in the stream,
so your laughter spills over 
the waves of air, lightly, in silvery droplets.

I give you the hummingbird’s feathers
ruby–red and emerald green —
their feisty owner suspended in mid-air
on invisible wings, drinking nectar
from a butterfly-shaped flower of bougainvillea
in the intense shade of magenta.

5.
I think you will love
my gifts of the pink grapefruit 
and juicy oranges fresh off the tree.
This one is funny! It wears sunglasses 
made of shadows. It is good to laugh at shadows…
And look! Is this a flower or a bird in paradise?



6.
I give you the patience of a lizard, sunning itself on my pathway, 
and catching flies — no, I do not give you the gift 
of catching flies,or maybe…  it could be useful!
Well, let’s stay with the hard-working habit 
of waiting for the right moment—Yes, do everything 
at the right time— do everything right.

You may like the intense hue of the California poppy
a wildflower of the hills. As orange as laughter,
with delicate green leaves of the spring, it comes back
year after year, without rain, after fires.  
Like this poppy, never give up!

7.
I am sure you will like the taste of red cherries 
right off the tree in Jelonki, in my childhood garden
later demolished  to build a street for those tall 
apartment blocks that are as ugly as machines 
to live in—but cherries, ah, cherries, with juice 
flowing down your fingers and your chin—

I give you all the riches of the clear, crisp air
in the fall, when gingko, maple, and poplar
leaves are yellow and crunchy under your feet,
when the last peaches are getting wrinkly
and too sweet on empty branches in the orchard.


8.
I give you the heady scent of needles
on the Christmas tree, a Douglas fir covered
in handmade ornaments, hidden behind
a mountain of gifts in crinkly wrapping paper
green, red, gold, and navy — next to a row
of stockings waiting for chocolate on the mantel.

Please, accept the fragrance of resin melting in the hot sun, flowing 
in large drops down the branches of my juniper and cypress —
and down the trunks of pines that lined the sandy road to 
your Great Grandpa’s family house in Bielewicze,
where storks welcomed sunrise, ferns unfolded 
and stretched  in forest shadows, and silence rang 
like crystal bells at noon.

This is the time for trees to dream of sleep 
and for birds to map out long flights 
along mountain ranges, above green waves 
of forests, white-crested waves of the ocean,
soaring on waves of air.

9.
I give you the chirping of the cricket 
behind my chimney — their summer song,
the kind my Grandma heard in the freezing,
snowy winter in Trzebieszów—
I wish you always have a cricket 
behind your chimney— let it sing,
if it wants to sing!

10.
I give you the majesty of sequoias, tall and ancient
with heads in the sky, roots stretching down 
inter-connected. Solid, immobile, above and beyond 
it all. Theirs is the gift of nobility, strength and resilience.
They do not die in forest fires — just get singed and grow
new branches — that’s what I give you today.


11.
When you grow a bit bigger I’ll give you wings 
to fly in planes, across oceans to distant cities —
London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona and the City of Angels, 

and to the white coral sand under coconut palms 
on Pacific islands, and to the waterfalls 
and volcanoes of Hawaii—Come on! Grow! Let’s go!

We’ll enter magnificent cathedrals 
and listen to angelic voices and heavenly 
sawing machines of Johann Sebastian Bach.

We’ll climb the world’s most famous tower
To look down at the rooftops and streets,
Eating ice-cream, and almonds, and crepes.

We’ll admire crystal mirrors of rococo palaces
with the thrills and trills of coloratura sopranos 
and the Magic Flute by Mozart.

We’ll waltz in the rain with Chopin 
and rest under weeping willows
of his Mazovian plains. We’ll visit the willows

reflected in Claude Monet’s ponds, 
full of clouds and water lilies. We’ll spend
the dawn and the dusk in his garden.




At noon we’ll stand in the rainbow 
of stained glass windows on stone menagerie 
carved into the floor of Sainte Chapelle.

We’ll travel through the primary colors 
and black lines of Mondrian to the upside down 
world of Magritte, where dawn and dusk 

are the same.  I wonder if you’d share 
my admiration for the smiles of Gothic Madonnas 
with blue-winged angels in gold-relief heavens,

nodding to the swinging rhythms of Brazilian samba 
and classical jazz, the luxury of mellow voices.
Ella and Frank forever.




12.
I give you the rush of understanding,
the “aha” moment when you get it 
and things fall into place where  they 
should have been from the start.

Stuffed into this junk heap of ideas
is a gift of making cosmos from chaos
in the pristine, strong light of your mind.
And don’t forget the white kernel 

of fresh walnut after you peel off its yellow 
wrinkly skin. All the bitter flavor is gone, 
only sweetness remains —
just like in life, when lived right.

So yes, I do give you the true gift 
of living right, capturing each moment
and dissecting it into what to keep
and what to discard.



13.
My gift is unique and hidden.
You’ll find it inside you, when your bare feet 
touch the new grass and your eyes follow 
shifting clouds in the blue-grey Polish sky.

This is the gift of seeing and knowing 
what is true, how grass grows, how clouds 
become scarves for the hills, sneezing in winter.

How to be present to changing sunlight 
on the mountain slopes with patches 
of shadow moving through distant canyons
and meadows.This is my gift.



14.
Of things I have not touched 
with my feet or the palms of my hands
I share with you Norwegian fjords 
and Alaskan glaciers, the glistening
black-and-white skin of my totem orcas, 
the whale-song and dolphins.

Play a tune on the teeth of a plastic comb,
immersed in water and a dolphin will come 
to investigate this new language 
of clicks — and will spit water on you 
if he does not like what you have to say—
maybe a dolphin’s insult?

They are smarter than humans, you know.
So, instead of playing, set them free. 
Yes, please, do.

15.
So, my dear first-born grand-son
son of my first-born son, I give you 
the colors, scents, and flavors
of fall, winter, spring and summer.

Know that what becomes old dies out,
letting flowers blossom and turn
into the delicious golden fruit 
of experience and memory.

Well, I never thought of memory as a jar
of pickled pears with cinnamon sticks 
and cloves ready for a winter feast.
Apparently, that’s what it is.

Thus, I give you some pickled pears 
of your Grandma,great-Grandma 
and other, greater grand-Grandmas,
with family recipes and stories to keep.




16.
I give you the bells of sailboat tack 
ringing against the mast on your boat
in the harbor, waiting for another adventure 
on gently undulating grey waves of a lake.
That’s for a summer day.

For winter nights, I give you 
ten billion suns in each of ten
billion galaxies as your playground.
You will find your way from sun to sun.

17.
I give you the shape of hand-written letters,
the spirals of sunflower seeds, and a snail shell,
the cycle of seasons, the living breath of our planet,
the fractal veins on a rose petal and on 
tributaries to a river you will see from the orbit
through electronic eyes of machines.

I give you the multitude of seeds 
in a pomegranate, each seated 
in its own ruby-red juicy pod, 
squished into the tightest space.

This is how tight knowledge 
will be packed into the neurons and cells 
of your brain,so you can squeeze 
its sweetness into words 
of supreme wisdom.




18.
I give you the gift of my language, many languages, really —
Two for certain, maybe three, four, five, or six 
I could have spoken if I tried harder, made more time.
So now you can do it —learn more skills, get more knowledge,
expertise, beauty. Let’s not forget beauty, the true meaning 
of life—see the snowflake star crystals melting on your glove? 
That’s what it means being like the lilies of the field that are clothed in glory 
and stretch their heads to the sun, breathing in the morning dew,
absorbing the golden essence  of life with each leaf, root, and petal.
So, there.



19.
I wish you the murmur of waterfalls
and the silver resonance of Tibetan chimes,
slowly swirling through the evening air
with the smoke of frankiscense.

I wish you the halo of light-filled sound 
and the brightest fragrance to keep you 
enveloped in a shield of light,
your armor against the dark.

I wish, I wish, I wish for you 
the most precious gift
of them all —the great 
river of light and 
the luminescence
of golden white love.

20.
I give you all the beautiful and good things I can find.
What you do with my gifts is yours only—
store them in the treasure chest
of your allotted time to do this and that,
and this much, and just enough.

May every step lead you to greater 
understanding and compassion 
for all living beings,to greater 
wisdom, higher awareness,
and more intense connection with all
others— plants, animals, people.

May your song echo widely
across the Universe.
May you learn to sail and swim,
and climb mountains,
and write sonnets, or paint, or plant.

May each day be full of hours
flowing by, like the feathers 
of a peacock—in delight and bliss.



21.
I give you the invisible secret of the universe —
cords of light tying it all together,
sand, stars and waves, tree roots and clouds.

The warm softness of the nose of a puppy 
or a baby kitten—would you like dogs or cats? 

And a myriad of happy eyes, looking at you
with the warmth of affection —
all one, all one, all one.

22.
I give you the gift of compassion,
the hazel light shining inside.

Close your eyes —you will see it 
in silence —you will hear it

in your heart’s gentle whisper
of love, nothing else, only love.




23.
So, I wish you the gift of un-feathered flight, 
the treasures of night sky, diamonds scattered on the water 
by sunlight as you swim in the lake.

The pearls of what, exactly? You go figure out 
your pearls, get together your plan for your life 
and own it.

Don’t forget where you came from
and why — to link, connect, span the globe 
and shine, yes, just to shine.

May the beautiful luster of your un-excelled essence 
be known to all. See, I just read the story 
of Buddha and I’m writing like one, already – 

with millions of suns, dazzling star crowns,
constant bliss, serenity, supreme joy, and the lotus 
of wisdom dissolving into clear light.



24.
If you are an artist at heart,
make a living, be grateful
for your gifts,and give back in kind.

If you are an engineer, invent things 
to help people,or animals, or plants,
or to heal the water and air.

Make them happy, hear their song —
that’s what we want most of all,
to be happy, to love, to be loved.

When you choose,  choose wisely
and follow your heart,
always follow your heart.




Since boys love machines, I thought I'd add to this tribute to the newborn a humorous short story that's a life lesson in old computer language. 

I find it amusing and accurate - this is what we all have to do:  




Install LOVE on the HUMAN Computer

by Author Unknown


Customer: I really need some help. After much consideration, I've decided to install LOVE. Can you guide me through the process?

Tech Support: Yes, I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

Customer: Well, I'm not very technical, but I think I'm ready to install it now. What do I do?

Tech Support: The first step is to open your HEART. Have you located your HEART?

Customer: Yes, I have, but there are several other programs running right now. Is it okay to install while they are running?

Tech Support: What programs are running?

Customer: Let's see... I have PAST-HURT.EXE, LOW-ESTEEM.EXE, GRUDGE.EXE, and RESENTMENT.EXE running now.

Tech Support: No problem. LOVE will gradually erase PAST-HURT.EXE from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory, but it will no longer disrupt other programs. LOVE will eventually overwrite LOW-ESTEEM.EXE with a module of its own called HIGH-ESTEEM.EXE. However, you have to completely turn off GRUDGE.EXE and RESENTMENT.EXE. Those programs prevent LOVE from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

Customer: I don't know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

Tech Support: My pleasure. Go to your Start menu and invoke FORGIVENESS.EXE. Do this as many times as necessary until it's erased the programs you don't want.

Customer: Okay, now LOVE has started installing itself automatically. Is that normal?

Tech Support: Yes. You should receive a message that says it will stay installed for the life of your HEART. Do you see that message?

Customer: Yes, I do. Is it completely installed?

Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other HEARTs in order to get the upgrades.

Customer: Oops. I have an error message already. What should I do?

Tech Support: What does the message say?

Customer: It says, "ERROR 412-PROGRAM NOT RUN ON INTERNAL COMPONENTS." What does that mean?

Tech Support: Don't worry, that's a common problem. It means that the LOVE program is set up to run on external HEARTs but has not yet been run on your HEART. It is one of those complicated programming things, but in non-technical terms it means you have to "LOVE" your own machine before it can "LOVE" others.

Customer: So what should I do?

Tech Support: Can you pull down the directory called "SELF-ACCEPTANCE"?

Customer: Yes, I have it.

Tech Support: Excellent. You're getting good at this. Now, click on the following files and then copy them to the "MYHEART" directory: FORGIVE-SELF.DOC, REALIZE-WORTH.TXT, and ACKNOWLEDGE-LIMITATIONS.DOC. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching any faulty programming. Also, you need to delete SELF-CRITICISM.EXE from all directories, and then empty your recycle bin afterwards to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

Customer: Got it. Hey! My HEART is filling up with new files. SMILE.MP3 is playing on my monitor right now and it shows that PEACE.EXE, and CONTENTMENT.EXE are copying themselves all over my HEART. Is this normal?

Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes a while, but eventually everything gets downloaded at the proper time. So, LOVE is installed and running. You should be able to handle it from here. Ah, one more thing.

Customer: Yes?

Tech Support: LOVE is freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everybody you meet. They will in turn share it with other people and they will return some similarly cool modules back to you.

Customer: I will! Thanks for your help!




Monday, September 5, 2016

My Declaration, Purpose and Intention - Found on the Road, With Pears and Whales

I walk down
 a sandy road, straight
into childhood

The question is, as usual, what is the best thing to do. Do I write this or that, go here or there, dig and plant in the garden, or write on my laptop all day, go swimming alone, or to lunch with poets, take that collect call or not... The question is, how am I to be sure that what I do is the best for me, and the best for everyone, and the best for the whole planet?

so many stars
in squares and clusters -
arriving home

I read recently and heard from my enlightened poet friend Susan Rogers that the best things are those that you feel joy inside when doing. So if I feel like getting that spade and shears, and go fight with that old root and trunk of the apricot tree that gave me two apricots in its entire career, before giving up on living - yes, that's what I should do.  And if it is time to go swimming, and looking at sunlight that scatters diamonds on the blue surface of water of the pool, while listening to children's laughter scattering in the air, yes, it is time to do that, too. And, if it is time to write in the evening or on my day off, that's the best use of my time. Actually, writing is the best use of my time, period. But to do it and sit sill on my patio chair, with a teacup nearby, I have to exercise my spine and muscles, i.e., have working spine and muscles. Hence the planting and digging and swimming and walking... 

overabundance
is the name of the game
for pear trees

But to write, you have to read, so I read sometimes things on the internet, some very strange things, sometimes order books over from used books on Amazon (at one cent plus $3.99 for delivery the price cannot be beat, unless you go to the bookstore at the local library, but then would they even have these strange kinds of books?). And some of the things are find are inspirational, some silly, some annoying, so I pick and chose between ideas, like picking the best pear from those that fell off the tree in an orchard. It will taste as if it were baked by sunlight, absolutely the best fruit you can have. But watch for those with rotting spots, you'll be sorry the next day. As always, the virtue of prudence is essential. And moderation. And the wisdom to choose what's best to do. Eat or not eat, this is the question. 

I pick a pear
from a happy orchard
of sun-baked fruit

So then, once full of pears, you can write what's on your mind. Actually I wrote my declaration while driving down to San Diego. It is "My" because I made it up, a "Declaration" because it is a formal statement of belief and purpose, and it has only 12 lines because that's the maximum I can remember, without writing down until I come down to a spot where I can stop and write down what's been formulating in my mind. On the way back, I read and recite to myself, line after line, and write down the final version upon arrival. So much fun! I call this genre the "Freeway Poetry" - you should try it, sometime. Beats road rage any time! 

happy hills
sing a happy song
in a happy valley


My Declaration 

I am a sovereign citizen​ of the galaxy

My heart goes out​ to the mountains​.​
My feet grow roots​ in the light​.​
My eyes touch​ the firmament of stars​.
I breathe the gold air​ of goodness​.​
I drink the lucid​ water of joy​.​
​Nourished by divine affection, I thrive,
​l​inked ​to all living beings​ -​
​snow crystals, seeds, ​trees and sunlight​.​
​In ​harmony,​ we sing the chorale​ of dawn​.​
I choose to love all,​ live in love​.​

I am a sovereign citizen​ of the galaxy​.​

A selfie in Julian, CA

Before getting to that point, I had to do some spiritual exercise and think through what I have been doing on this planet and what's my job to do for the rest of my time on this planet.  This was an interesting exercise and got me into a corner for a while, because I absolutely did not know where to start? Then, I had a revelation while swimming as I often does, the rhythmic motion is excellent for letting the mind wander and find things and ideas that are simply wonderful.  Why don't I start from what I do each day, each week, each month? Maybe I'm already fulfilling my purpose and doing what I intend to do? 

I was asked once by a friend: "What would you give to be twenty years younger?" He said, "I'd pay at least $100,000" - that's $5,000 per year, I thought, pretty cheap. But I answered: "Nothing, I already live a perfect life and I'd never want to re-live again those difficult years that I barely survived and now I'm thriving!" So, since I'm already doing what I'm supposed to be doing, here it is: 

My Purpose and Intentions

My purpose is to love and share, with joy and gratitude, the infinite, luminous beauty of the natural and human-enhanced world, as seen, heard, felt, sensed, and comprehended.

My first intention is to be always grateful and happy for being alive, on Earth, in sunlight: breathing, walking and swimming; feeling connected to all living beings, visible and invisible – from air and water to distant galaxies, all sharing in the infinite love and presence of the Divine.

My second intention is to grow in love and knowledge of the Divine Love and Light, through contemplation of sublime beauty of revealed wisdom and the communion with the Divine Presence in my heart.

My third intention is to be always loving and caring for “my people” in ever increasing circles of Love, from my children and family, to strangers – in kindness, compassion, and generosity of the gentle, loving heart.

My fourth intention is to observe and capture in words (poems) and images (photography) the richness of natural beauty, from rock formations through cloud patterns, and everything in-between: plants, trees and flowers; leaves and petals; the noises of bees or breeze in the trees; melodious patterns of birdsong; the calming rhythm of ocean waves; the sweet scent of orange blossom in the spring;and many surprising delights yet to be discovered.

My fifth intention is to care for my garden and environment: plant, trim, water, and admire all the plants that surround me and create a healing shelter for me and for all the living beings that make it their home, from bees and crickets, to songbirds. I intend to fill my environment at home and work with harmonious, uplifting beauty.

My sixth intention is to observe, capture and contribute to the inspired beauty of the arts and to document the details of what I see, hear, and admire in words (essays and poems); I intend to understand creative individuals, composers and artists, to study their biographies and ideas, and to convey this understanding to others.

My seventh intention is to bring harmony and balance to the Earth through being aware, witnessing, enjoying, caring for, and sharing its natural and human-enhanced beauty, from the mountain ridges on the horizon, to the balanced beauty of gardens, filled with refreshing scents and sights, and to the inspiring harmonies of music.

My eighth intention is to teach others to see, hear, feel and record the positive, harmonious, joyous, and serene aspects of their lives, so they enjoy the path of compassion and gratitude that is full of new blessings every day.

My ninth intention is to leave a legacy of my unique life on two continents, in three countries, two languages and cultures, so that my pathway leading to the discovery of the Divine Love and Presence everywhere, in everyone and everything, helps others in their search for the One Love, the One Source of All.

My tenth intention is the Victory of Light! This means the transformation of Earth into the true Garden of Eden, peaceful, harmonious, blossoming with an abundance of gifts for all living beings and creatures, a Paradise that it has been designed to be, and is meant to become!

~Maja Trochimczyk


The amazing philosopher-artist Scott Froschauer made some road=signs that express similar ideas in fewer words:

Artwork by Scott Froschauer


Artwork by Scott Froschauer

I added "My Declaration" to the "Into Light" book of inspirational poetry, that also gained a poem about whales and their song. Did you know that whales and dolphins are that amazing set of extra-terrestrial species that were placed on our planet to constantly patrol its waters, measure the level of love in our world, and increase it by their song, resonating from the deep, coast to coast? No? 

That would explain why Californians and bi-coastal peoples are so inspired, when compared with the rest of the country, I thought when I read this story. They are simply so much closer to the whales. Just kidding, what about the landlocked Tibetans? 

Then, it made me think of my "totem stone" I got once, years ago, while traveling through a Native American reservation in Canada. I kept it, though I did not like it one bit, initially. Why should I be as large and clumsy as a whale? We use this word as an insult for women... And, why a killer whale? 


Now, though, I'm far more positive about my animalistic "patron saint." I love water, swimming, freedom, singing, and the graceful, smart, and beautiful orcas that teach me to love it all, their way. So here's my poem about whales:

A Whale of a Song

They sing, as they ride the waves,
laughing.  They sing to the depths
of the ocean, reaching sand on the bottom,
submerged peaks and valleys. Their song
echoes through the crystalline expanse
of the sky, bounces off the translucent
rays of starlight.

They dance on the waves, weaving
the web of love from their song.

In the invisible rhythm of seven billion
heartbeats, they encircle the globe,
traversing all the oceans.

Did you know
that whales and dolphins
are our cosmic guardians?

Did you know
that the killer whale
is my patron saint?

I have a totem stone to prove it, a gift
from a seer who once told me:

Do not forget to listen
to life-giving music.
Do not ever forget
the song of the whales. 



Thursday, August 25, 2016

"The Rainy Bread: Poems from Exile" - Stories of Poles from Kresy - Deported to Siberia, Scattered Around the World

I'm going  to Poland in September - to welcome the youngest member of my family, the first grandson, and to attend the conference Kresy-Siberia "Generations Remember 2016" of families and survivors that lived in the Eastern borderlands of Poland, called Kresy (now Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine), and were deported by Stalinist government to Siberia in 1940-43, survived with severe losses and trauma, and emigrated to the ends of the world. For my poetry reading at the conference, I put together a brand-new book. 


by Maja Trochimczyk. Moonrise Press, August 2016
ISBN 9781945938009, paperback, 64 pages, $10.00
ISBN 9781945938016eBook, $10.00

This volume includes 30 poems about forgotten stories of Poles living in the Eastern Borderlands of Kresy, who were killed, deported, imprisoned, or oppressed after the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union on September 17, 1939.  Some of these brief portraits capture the trauma and resilience, ordeals and miraculous survival stories of the author’s immediate family. Her maternal family comes from Baranowicze and the surrounding area near Adam Mickiewicz’s Nowogródek and the mythical lake of Świteź in what is now Belarus. Their experiences of displacement, hunger, cold, and poverty during the war are typical of Polish civilian.

These fictionalized memories are coupled with depictions of survival of other Poles deported to Siberia, the Arctic Circle, or Kazakhstan; who left the Soviet Union with the Second Corps of the Polish Army under General Władysław Anders; were transported to refugee camps in India or Africa; and ended up in Argentina, Canada, Australia or the U.S. The book is a companion to “Slicing the Bread: Children’s Survival Manual in 25 Poems” (Finishing Line Press, 2014), with which it shares some poems, including vignettes from the author’s childhood in Warsaw, permeated by the strange rhetoric of the Polish People’s Republic, yet still overshadowed by the war. 

You can read the introduction on the Moonrise Press blog


≡ 4 ≡ FIVE COUNTRIES IN VENICE ≡

Four people, five countries connected
through the dark cord of the sixth — an evil
evil empire, once for all, one among the many.
They all are evil now, in this new world
order of endless wars.

Poland — the anchor of a shared language
that has not perished yet, with rye bread,
sweet butter and buckwheat honey;
Chopin, Matejko and Mickiewicz;
wildflowers, nostalgia, and rain.
The Alma Mater of grief.

Excluded from the Victory Parade in 1945
by the United Kingdom, so United —
it took up the Polish soldiers’ offer to defend it;
so United —  it expelled them to the ends
of its crumbling empire, after the battles were done —

To Canada — the vast terrains with open borders,
clean air and water, safe streets, and welcome.
The best country in the world, if you are willing to brave
the constant cold, your breath freezing in your nose —

To Australia — of red earth and animals that prove
the creator’s sense of humor, surely, made in jest.
A dream-scape for dark-skinned, silent sages.
A penal colony for London thugs and whores.
A shelter for those with nowhere else to go
when the global cataclysm was over —


To Argentina— where they dance the tango
and mourn twenty thousand “desaparecidos”
while giving refuge to executioners and their prey.
They would not know, no, really, would not –
the two hundred thousand that disappeared
without a trace from the plains of Wołyń.

They would not think of one, two millions —
who’s counting?— Polish civilians, deported, gone.
The Queen expelled the former soldiers,
once allies, then a ballast of unwanted guilt —

To California — a different kind of island,
an archipelago of its own. Each mind — a cosmos
of invention. Each heart— a universe of masks.

Here, we meet on the bright shores of the Pacific
in the Republic of the other Venice. We sip
the Russian Valley Cabernet and ponder
the messy handiwork of power-drunk Furies
and the impassioned, patient Fates.

This tapestry is almost done. Lachesis, Clotho
tangled up the skein. All we can do
is wait for Atropos, their sister, to show
her mercy by cutting our threads.




≡ 16 ≡ UNDER AFRICAN SKY ≡


                                                           ≡ for Julian Stanczak 

    amber and coral

    ruby and carnelian

He looks at the brightness of the African sky.
The blazing sunset above the plains of Uganda
His eyes follow the pattern of light and shadow
on the savanna’s tall grass. Dark lines cut
into light on the flanks of a zebra —
he thinks of a donkey back home,
transformed by the extravagant, geometric
boldness of stripes, shining bright —

blinding his eyes, used to Siberian darkness
in dim interiors of musty prison huts —
he admires the play of gold and bronze inside
the tiger’s eye — a stone his teacher gave him
for protection and good luck. How it shifts
with each turn, different, yet the same —
lines upon lines of light.

The richness stays under his eyelids
as he twists and turns the tiger’s eye
in his one good hand, left — while the other,
a useless appendage, hangs limply
since the beating in a Soviet prison camp.
Shattered, like his dream of music,
the honey-rich tones of his cello.

He finds a different-flavored honey
in the richness of African sunsets,
the stripes of the tiger’s eye.  

He captures the undulating lines
and blazing hues on majestic canvas,
moving in the rhythm of wild planes
out of Africa, into fame.

amber and topaz

    gold, bronze, and light

    so much light  —


Hot Summer by Julian Stanczak (1956)




≡ LIST OF POEMS 

≡ PART I  DESTINATIONS ≡ 1

  1.           What to Carry ≡ 2
  2.              Starlight ≡ 3
  3.           Charlie, Who Did  Not Cross ≡ 4
  4.              Five Countries in Venice ≡ 6
  5.              Eyes on the Road ≡ 8
  6.              The Baton ≡ 9
  7.              Diamonds ≡ 10

 ≡ PART II  THERE AND NOWHERE ≡ 11


  1.              The Odds ≡ 12
  2.               Wołyń ≡ 13
  3.               Kołyma ≡ 15
  4.               Amu Darya ≡ 16
  5.               Shambhala ≡ 18
  6.               Reflection ≡ 20
  7.               A Piece of Good Advice to Stuff in the Hole  in the Wall ≡ 21
  8.               A Pilot in Pakistan ≡ 22
  9.               Under African Sky ≡ 23

≡ ≡ ≡ PART III  THE HUNGER DAYS ≡ 25


  1.             Kasha ≡ 26
  2.            The Trap Door ≡ 27
  3.             Slicing the Bread ≡ 29
  4.              Peeling the Potatoes ≡ 30

  ≡ ≡ ≡ PART IV  THERE AND BACK ≡ 33


  1.          Of Trains and Tea ≡ 34
  2.           Once Upon a Time in Baranowicze ≡ 35
  3.                     Ciocia Tonia ≡ 37
  4.           Asters ≡ 39
  5.           No Chicken ≡ 41
  6.           The Coat ≡ 43
  7.           Short Leg≡ 44
  8.                     Standing Guard ≡ 46
  9.           Losing Irena ≡ 47
  10.           Language ≡ 48





≡ ABOUT THIS BOOK 

Unwavering in its honesty, The Rainy Bread is a thought-provoking look at a brutal chapter in history: the Soviet occupation of Poland during World War II and the deportations and repressions that took place in the country's Easter Borderlands, known as Kresy. Trochimczyk gives a public face to this history but also reveals the private heart of a family that endures despite horrific loss.  With simple language and stark imagery, these poems create a powerful testimony and bear witness to the hate that destroys, to the truth that restores, and to the poetic vision that honors our common humanity.

 Linda Nemec Foster, author of Amber Necklace from Gdańsk (LSU Press), 
winner of the Creative Arts Award from the Polish American Historical Association

Maja Trochimczyk’s poems draw you into a bestial, almost inconceivable history.  Using objects—bread, potatoes, trapdoors, high heels—she guides you through an experience with the madness of World War II and its aftermath when a dictator is judged worse or better by how many fewer millions he has slaughtered. This book needed to be written.  This is a fascinating, tragic, and instructive time in history which should not me neglected. Trochimczyk doesn’t lecture; you are riveted by the power of her poems; their narratives flow from her hands as if a Babcia were still guiding them. And maybe she was. You will remember the taste of this book.


≡ Sharon Chmielarz, author of Love from the Yellowstone Trail


Maja Trochimczyk, Portrait by Susan Rogers, 2013