Saturday, January 23, 2016

Winter in America

Winters were hard when I was a kid in America. We were Polish refugees and immigrants, victims of Hitler and WWII, and we lived in shacks and apartments with two or three other families, apartments without heat or only a wood-burning stove in the kitchen.

It felt like it was always too cold and we didn't have enough to eat.

Winter and the cold seem to be a presence in a lot of the prose pieces and poems in my new book Echoes of Tattered Tongues, a book that includes a substantial section about what it was like for us here as immigrants.

Here's one of the poems from Echoes of Tattered Tongues about those immigrant winters.

All the Clich├ęs About Poverty are True

Our first refugee winter in Chicago
my dad came home with a box of wood scraps
he traded some guy in a bar for a drink
and maybe a couple packs of cigarettes.

Me and my sister Danusha made houses
with those clean-smelling blocks and wedges,
pushed them around the floor like they were horses,
trains, and cowboys. My father that night

put them into the wood stove in the kitchen
for a little warmth, but it wasn’t enough.
My mom raised her hand and said she’d spank us
if we didn’t stop crying for the blocks.

I don’t remember what we did the next night.
Maybe we burned our crayons and chairs.


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Echoes will be published by Aquila Polonica. The book can be preordered from Amazon.

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