Thursday, January 29, 2015

On Heartbreaks, Heart Math, and Finding Hearts

What is a heartbreak? Does a heart really break when a loving relationship dies, or someone really dies and leaves us all alone? California poet, Karineh Mahdessian published an anthology of unhappy love poems by women (including one of mine), and followed it by an anthology of unhappy love poems by men, and is now working on the third anthology of poems written by match pairs, a female and a male poet, that have not met before. The results will be available in a new anthology and we will see where all these heartbreaks take us.

If it is only into whining - "poor me, pity me, my baby left me..." - that's not much of a lesson for the rest of us. "So what..." a bystander could shrug and say, bluntly: "get your act together and find a new love, this is not the end of the with it..."  But what if it were? What if that unique loving connection of two lovers, their hearts beating in unison, created a higher-level value in the universe, what if stars and galaxies were born of this love?

The Institute of Heart Math tells us that our hearts have so much neurons around them they actually have their own "brains" that are guarding and guiding our bodies, our whole selves, without conscious involvement of the real brain. The rhythm of the heart influences our thinking.

The electromagnetic field created by the heart synchronizes with other hearts and creates a powerful energy field.  The magnetic field of a human heart can be measured several fields from the body. The negative emotions create a chaotic pattern in this field, while positive, calm, loving emotions create a smooth, coherent pattern that leads to wellness. Coherent rhythm of the heart based on positive emotions of happiness, acceptance, love, gratitude, serenity, helps the brain create innovative ideas and make good decisions.

In pursuit of positive energy of the heart, I wrote many blog entries on love, roses, and St. Valentine's Day - and gathered the links on a separate page: Love and Roses.  As a dedicated "love-poetry" writer, I have committed the unforgivable sin, unforgivable, that is, for a professional, academic poet - write about emotion, write about the four-letter word, love... Yet, the proliferation of romance books and country songs tells us something about this "dirty word" that serious academic poets cannot use or reflect about if they want to be taken seriously by other serious academic poems and have their work reviewed in serious academic poetry journals. That is: Love is. Love is a force of life.

No, Love is the force of life. Love is the light of life. Love and Light are intertwined: the more loving you are the more enlightened you become. If you reach true wisdom, you also reach true compassion. It all goes together, intertwined, like the couples of humans melded into angelic creatures of eight limbs floating around in Swedenborg's heaven. The union of opposites, merging compassion into wisdom, love into light.

Before we become any sorts of angels and start floating around in any sort of heaven, there's the earth, the here and now. Here's a multitude of loves to be dealing with: love of mothers, love of fathers, love of children, love of grandparents, romantic love, familial love, compassionate love. Love is the glue that holds society together, from a couple, through family into infinity. We are nothing without love. How then, the all-mighty serious academic poets decided that it is not cool, not appropriate, not done, to be sentimental, to be romantic, to be loving in poetry?

If that's the case, I'd rather be non-serious, non-academic and not-mighty poet. I'd rather write cute little trifles that bring smiles to my readers' faces, that make them say, at the end of the reading sigh, all in unison: aaaahhh... How cute is that! Don't you known that this "aaaahhh" means something good? Better than a chocolate heart? More powerful than a gunshot? This is "heart math" - the focus of thoughts and feelings on the one good thing in this life and in the next: Love. Love itself. Love in us. Love around us. Love.

Kathabela Wilson recently edited a new "Poetry Corner" for the Colorado Boulevard magazine, Reflections on Relationships, and added a fragment of my poem "Adorable" to a set of three reflections on romantic love.  She illustrated her story with two of my "heart" photos - that I have been collecting for quite a while, snapping pictures of various heart-shaped things, from cactus, to spray-painted contours on the sidewalk reproduced above.

Since Kathabela only used a portion of my poem, I thought it would be nice to reprint the whole here, in anticipation of February, the Month of Love.


… is the word for you.
Yes, you’ve heard me right.
Like a kitten? More a baby golden lab,
A cuddly puppy with huge chocolate eyes
Looking at me with wild affection.
Excited, impatiently waiting to be hugged.

Adorable – as in the French perfume
“J’adore” – but not the flowery kind,
Rather the musky spice
Of your naked body.

Gentle, shy, hopeful, fit, boisterous, 
Persistent, singing carols out of tune,
With muscles flexing under 
The smooth skin. Ready for the home run.
Nice, not naughty, but nice
Through and through.

How do I know? The word appeared
While I was driving down the Five
At night, dozing off, stopping for naps,
Moving on in a blur of hours, miles,
Hills, exit signs and darkness.

I was rushing to be home
When you called. This word floated up
Through the fog of exhaustion
In the lunar landscape of bare hills
Near Avenal State Prison,
The strange topology of your dreams.

Sensuous, sweet, exotic,
Defiant, witty, bewildering,
Alive, soo alive –

Yes, you’ve heard me right.
I've got just one word for you,
For the whole you –


© 2015 by Maja  Trochimczyk  (January 2015)

The Tanka Poets on Site had earlier this month a chance to respond to Kathabela's prompt on "romantic relationships, coupling" - with a beautiful artwork by Susan Dobay.  I wrote another sweet little trifle based on the image of loving bliss that Susan so masterfully captured. 

In the meadow 
sparkling with topaz, 
sapphires and opals
your kiss 
gives me wings

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Poetry in Translation from English to Polish

At the Foothills  Poetry Festival on January 10, 2015, I read several poems translated into Polish. Even though Polish is my native tongue, I never write in Polish. Actually, I penned just one Polish verse, about a caterpillar sitting on the window-sill and being sad because it was raining and the caterpillar could not go to the movies. Yes, it was a children's verse. That's it. Somehow, poetry comes to me only in English - I started writing to be able to master English and express every nuance of meaning and emotion. I do have great forerunners in doing that - Joseph Conrad, or rather Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski, who became one of the great stylists of the English language.

In poetry - I was fascinated by bilingual edition of Apollinaire, a French poet of Polish descent. My mom had this book with strange experimental poems, letters scattered across the page, streaming down like droplets of rain. Amazing!  Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) was a French poet and playwright of Polish descent, born Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki. He wrote one of the earliest surrealist plays, The Breasts of Tiresias, was founded in WWI and died in the Spanish flu pandemic.

I'm not dead yet, so there's hope I'll become a better Polish-language poet in time. It is a challenge to render one language in another in prose. Poetry is much harder because the melody and rhythm of the language has to be taken into account, not just the meaning.  My first poems that were published in Polish, in an anthology by the Krak Art Group, were translated by others, Konrad Wilk and Liliana Wilk. I translated my own poems for some other publications, such as Poezja Dzisiaj, in Poland - for a set of emigre poetry edited by Anna Maria Mickiewicz of London.  It is really as hard as pulling teeth for me. What I decided to do was to adapt and paraphrase, keeping the overall meaning and making sure that the Polish-language poem actually sounds like a poem and not a complete mess.

Here are some results.


Pomówmy o śmierci.
Twój ostatni oddech
To koniec – a może nie?
Nie wiesz nic.

Mówmy o ostatnim
Dniu. Co byś zrobił
Gdybyś wiedział?
Kogo byś kochał?
Czy szukałbyś swej najmilszej,
Najgłębszej miłości?
A może byś został wśród bliskich
Których dobrze znasz?
Czy okradłbyśkogoś,
Obrabował, obraził?
Czy zacząłbyś rozpaczać?
Wrzucił listy w ogień?
Gdyby kanwa twej przyszłości
Znikła? I zostałby ci tylko
Dzień? Lub godzina?

Mówmy więc o życiu.
Każdy oddech niesie cię
W taniec minut, sekund.
W rytm serca.

Właśnie tak.  

© 2008 by Maja Trochimczyk  

MEMENTO VITAE                  

Let's talk about dying.
The gasp of last breath.
The end. Or maybe not,
We don't know.
Let's talk about the last day.
What would you do
if you knew?
Whom would you love?
Would you find your dearest,
most mysterious love?
Or would you just stay
in the circle of your own?
Would you rob, steal
or insult anyone?
Would you cry?
Burn your papers?
If the fabric of your future
shrank to one day,
or maybe just an hour?

Let's talk about living, then.
The next breath,
that will take you
to the next minute,
the next heartbeat.

Just about – now.

© 2008 by Maja Trochimczyk


W domu z witrażami czereśni
usłyszysz jak kot śpi, chrapiąc w komforcie
ręcznie haftowanej poduszki

W domu świeżo ściętych róż
poczujesz jak powietrze zakwita
słodyczą cynamonu i muszkatu

Poczujesz smak miłości
zmieszanej z kroplami deszczu
na patio w mym magicznym domu

Gdzie wszystko, czego dotkniesz,
zmienia się w czyste złoto
szczęścia, które tak dobrze pamiętasz


In a house of stained-glass cherries
you can hear a cat sleep
snoring into the comfort
of his hand-embroidered pillow.

In a house of fresh-cut roses
you can feel the air bloom
with the sweetness
of cinnamon and nutmeg.

You can taste love
mixed with raindrops
on the patio of my magic house
where everything you touch
changes into pure gold
of bliss, perfectly remembered.

(C) 2006 by Maja Trochimczyk


Nie chodzi o rozdzielanie zapałki na czworo
Czy liczenie diabłów na okrągłej główce
To wszystko nieważne

Patrz: wschód słońca nad Szczytem Truskawek
I Górą Rozczarowań tańczy na puchatym
Tłuszczyku pierwszych obłoków lata

Zobacz: świetliste linie na płytkim strumieniu
W kanionie błyszczą jak łuski karpia
Czekającego na śmierć w wannie przed Wigilią

Słuchaj: stada wron rozsiadają się na noc
Kanciaste kształty pokrywają czernią gałęzie drzew
Jak klastery, ostre akordy Xenakisa

Widzisz? Wrony kąpią się w rzece, rozciągają
Skrzydła na betonowym nabrzeżu, woda kapie
Dużymi kroplami – one nieświadome, drzemią

Jak wytatuowane, spocone tłumy wakacjuszy
Na zapiaszczonych ręcznikach w Santa Monica ,
Czekające na tsunami, którego nie będzie

Właśnie to jest ważne: spójrz inaczej – nie na siebie
Lecz we wszechświat, nie – na przegrane ambicje
Lecz na miliony gwiazd w galaktykach

Kosmiczne kolizje, wybuchy supernowych
Tysiące niezamieszkałych planet –
Możemy je policzyć, nie możemy dotknąć

Możemy dotknąć, ale nie policzyć
Cieniutkie linie na płatku róży, wyschniętym
w upale pustyni, choć zakwitł dziś rano

Nie o nas tu chodzi – rozejrzyj się dalej
uchwyć co przeminęło, zatrzymaj ziarno czasu
w swej otwartej dłoni – tę iskierkę, chwilę


in response to George Jisho Robertson’s essay “Path of Poesis”

It is not like splitting the match in four
or counting devils on its round head –
none of this matters, really

see the sunrise above Strawberry Peak
and Mount Disappointment shimmer
on the puffy underbelly of summer clouds

be dazed by bright ripples on a shallow canyon stream
shining like scales of a carp waiting to be killed
in a bathtub before Polish Easter

listen to the roosting birds at dusk,
the murder of crows covering tree branches
with angular shapes, dense Xenakis chords,

black clusters, dissonant, intense. They bathe
in the river, sit on a concrete bank with wet wings
outstretched, drooping with water, docile

like tattooed crowds resting, sweating
on sandy beach towels in Santa Monica,
waiting for a tsunami that will not come

shifting the gaze is important, from the navel
to cosmos – not how we fail in a multitude of ways,
but what graces hide in galaxies

that collide amidst exploding supernovas,
on thousands of inhabitable planets
we’ll count but never touch –

we’ll touch but never count
the veins on the petals of the rose
shriveling from desert heat, just opened

Not us, then, look around, beyond,
catch what's already gone, hold it
in your hand - the spark, the passing

Maja Trochimczyk © 2012


A ja chcę czereśnie
Słodziutkie czereśnie
Chce poczuć ciemne nuty soku
Na mojej skórze
Jak krople deszczowego preludium
W mżawce poranka

W obłoku fortepianu
Wspinam się na czereśnię
Szukam ukojenia wśród kruchych gałęzi
Cieszę się doskonałością czerwieni
Czereśniową muzyką od samego rana

Nasycona, śpiąca
Chowam się w ciemnościach strychu
By łupać orzechy, obierać gorzką skórkę
Odsłaniać biały miąższ
Studium w tonacji C-dur

Smakuję marzenia
Akordy płyną przez szpary
Starych belek wypełnione światłem

To codzienny rytuał mojej babuni
Popołudnie z Chopinem


After Etude in C Major, Op. 10, No. 1 and a cherry orchard of
my grandparents, Maria Anna and Stanislaw Wajszczuk

I want a cherry,
a rich, sweet cherry
to sprinkle its dark notes
on my skin, like rainy preludes
drizzling through the air.

Followed by the echoes
of the piano, I climb
a cherry tree to find rest
between fragile branches
and relish the red perfection -
morning cherry music.

Satiated, sleepy,
I hide in the dusty attic.
I crack open the shell
of a walnut to peel
the bitter skin off,
revealing white flesh -
a study in C Major.

Tasted in reverie,
the harmonies seep
through light-filled cracks
between weathered beams
in Grandma's daily ritual
of Chopin at noon.

(c) 2010 by Maja Trochimczyk

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Foothills Poetry Festival - Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 3 p.m.

I am honored to represent Polish-American poets at the Foothills Poetry Festival to be held next Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 3 p.m. at the Sunland-Tujunga Public Library, a branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. Organized by American-Argentinian-Ukrainian Poet, Elsa S. Frausto, Sunland-Tujunga's Poet Laureate, the event will bring poetry in original languages as well as in English in several segments dedicated to distinct countries and immigrant experiences.  The participants will include: Teresa Mei Chuc (Vietnam), Mira Mataric (Serbia), Shahe Mankerian (Armenia) and Elsa Frausto (Argentina) and will be held at 7771 Foothill Blvd., Tujunga 91042.

Poets will also read their favorite "native" poets, in both original and English translations. Refreshments will be served.

I have not selected my own poems for the reading, but I think I will read something by Czeslaw Milosz and something by Wislawa Szymborska as both poets have had the good luck of having excellent translators. I'll probably find something either written or translated by Stanislaw Baranczak who died recently. My section may also include a poem or two from the "Slicing the Bread" chapbook recently issued by the Finishing Line Press. I will certainly read the elegy in memory of Basia Gawronska, a great artist and a wonderful person. I recently translated it into Polish so it is a bit fresh, but the memory of Basia, who died at Thanksgiving in 2009 deserves this honor.


                Dla Basi Kozieł Gawroński in memoriam (1947-2009)

Jeśli pójdziesz ulicą Oro Vista w stronę gór San Gabriel
I spojrzysz w niebo, pomiędzy czerwieniejącymi
Liścmi jesiennej jabłoni, zobaczysz sokoła jak krąży
Nad spalonym zboczem, czarnym kikutem drzewa.

Wyżej, wyżej – kołuje i lotnia, wznosi się po białej
Drabinie obłoków, mierzy błękitny obszar
Niebiańskiej przestrzeni. Samotnie szuka szczęścia
Ponad całym światem, gdzie sokół rysuje kręgi,
polując na myszy.

Gdyby Basia była tu wraz z nami, naszkicowałaby
Zarys ruchu w swym starym notesie – a obok kształt
Klaczy zbiegającej na dół, po błotnistym zboczu.

Jej grzywa powiewa, gładkie ciało błyszczy
Na tle nagiej ziemi, zdeptanej na miazgę
Wygląda jakby była… jest samą wolnością
Zanim nie zatrzyma jej rdzawy łańcuch płotu.

My też rozmarzeni, toniemy w uniesieniach,
Sekretach tkliwości – niech rośnie w ogrodzie
Między ostatnią sałatą i garstką truskawek.

Półkula wiatru przesuwa się nad koronami
Drzew.  Trzepotanie złocistych trójkatów
Porusza granatowe głębie nieznanego nieba.
Rosną gałęzie ginkgo szerząc radość sprzed stuleci.

Basi nie ma. Czymże jesteśmy
Jeśli nie liścmi wyzłoconymi jesienią,
W ostatnich promieniach, przed nocą fioletu?

Dawno temu, gdy dźwięk wiader z mlekiem
Oznajmiał schyłek dnia w polskiej wsi, na dziadków obejściu
Słyszeliśmy echa pogrzebowych dzwonów
Wołających, płaczących – łkanie aż do nieba.

Basi nie ma. Czarna klacz zatrzymuje się
Zadziwiona, zdyszana. Jej grzywa
Wciąż tańczy walca jak fale przypływu.
Spadają liście ginko i jabłoni.
Kręgi sokoła i lotni spotykają się, rozchodzą
Wysoko nad nami, w bieli. Tam obłoki
Otwierają się dla Basi

Aby mogła wejść ze stertą notesów,
Obrazów, przetykanych srebrno-złotą nitką
Znakiem światła, z lusterkami, które potłukła
I dla nas złożyła, byśmy wreszcie dostrzegli, gdzie –
Tu właśnie – jesteśmy.

 Ascension - A Memorial Poem
                                     Basia Koziel Gawrońska in memoriam

If you go down Oro Vista towards the mountains,
and look up between the crape myrtle’s 
reddish leaves, you’ll see a hawk circling 
above charred slopes, blackened gullies.  

Higher, higher, rising to the white stripes
of clouds that measure the blue expanse,
a hang glider flies, looking for happiness,
like the hawk searching for mice.  

If Basia were with us, she’d sketch
the blur of motion in her notebook,
the horse that ran down the muddy slope,
her mane flowing, body shining against the bare 
soil beaten to a pulp. She looks like, she is,
freedom, until the chain-link fence stops her. 

We, too, cherish glimpses of elation,
affection growing in the garden
between strawberries and sage.  

The air cupola shifts above a gingko tree.
The flutter of yellow triangles moves
indigo depths of the sky. Strong
branches spread the joy of centuries. 

Basia’s gone. What are we,
but the leaves turning gold,
catching the last rays of crimson light?
We dance like fireflies at dusk. 

Long ago, when the clanging
of milk pails announced the waning
of the day in a Polish village,
we heard echoes of funereal bells,
calling, ringing out to heaven. 

Basia’s gone. The black mare stops,
bewildered, panting. Her mane
still waltzes like the waves of the tide. 

The gingko leaves fall. The hawk 
and the glider meet and part high up 
where the clouds open for Basia 
to come in with her sketchbooks, paintings, 
her silvery threads of light, and mirrors 
she broke for us to see where we are.