F. Daniel Rzicznek

We stumble into memory and before
we recognize the gate, we are half
way through, and there are two does

leaping through the high tangles of marsh
and the buck stands
staring out at us:

our tall shadows, the mind inside the mind
that he can hear
rumbling above the wind,
even as he disappears into the brush.


Three times this morning
the farmer’s dogs
play sadness across the forest’s spines—
at first we thought coyotes

their whimpers descended, something
half lame as they echoed into the lake—
into the slow circlings of fish.


The first man to move falls, drives gravel
through his knees, and the woman beside him
sets a small bag of money
ablaze, the light

revealing a multitude of faces stretching
back toward the one-way door of pleasure.

F. Daniel Rzicznek


Hackneyed… she had said aloud and light dipped down
between branches beneath the window. The buildings
borrowed grey from the grass. The grass asked for green
from the bricks.

Nowadays men scroll past haggard in boats on the covers
of books, and the mail is a thing with bridles and hair. I’ve
pulled every last shred of paper from the walls—their beige
now a vertical beach. A few nail holes represent

I couldn’t find a single decent apple in the whole grocery
store, but a few hornets came drifting awake inside a
salmon fillet, harassed the packaging. The things we
survive in the name of evenness.

Several states after the mountains, I began shouting about
the clouds above the road: the violet skull they lightly
formed. My shouting was like a little onion filled with
sand. An eye in each of my parents turned backward, asked
me would, couldn’t, I please think to relax.

F. Daniel Rzicznek‘s first full-length collection of poems, Neck of the World, was the winner of the 2007 May Swenson Poetry Award and will be published by Utah State University Press this year. He is also the author of the chapbook Cloud Tablets (Kent State University Press, 2006). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, The New Republic, AGNI, The Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, The Mississippi Review, North American Review, and elsewhere. He teaches English composition at Bowling Green State University. His current front porch is an open-air concrete block trimmed by a flimsy cast iron railing (attached to an otherwise lovely house). He wishes his porch was large, covered, and wooden (not unlike a bridge) with several rocking chairs, an old-fashioned porch swing, and a happy old dog thumping its tail against the boards.