No. 8-9


Craig Czury  

Blessed are the Poor

                                                 ...for they shall inherit the moon 
                                                                     —Leonel Rugama

there is a music tonight
there is a tremor in the air      we can barely breathe
the guards are changing shifts at the county prison where men
from towns where i fucked-up too are changing their teeth into cinder blocks
heavy and brittle are the moon’s teeth waiting to be kissed
there is no stopping the sores from breaking out
and more than one guard will go home       but not his home
to sleep with an inmate’s wife
we can barely breathe
the moon has grown cold waiting for our kisses
two fable-ous birds from the mural painted from tattoos fly full plumage
around the cell blocks through bars
there is no stopping these blotched under the skin
the county commissioner bolts awake in his chair
dreams you save for dusk   you save for dusk   you save for
a fable with its night sky streaked green and orange and yellow
the moon with our mother’s face has grown bald from worry
night after night plotting our escape   

Heart Against the Wall

                                                 Sometimes You Will Fail
                                                 But One Thing Still Remains Pure
                                                 Dreams You Save For Dusk
                                                                    —from Tattoo Haiku
                                                 Joseph A. Tulanowski, Luzerne Couinty Prison, Pa.

no i haven’t slept    i don’t leave the room
how many days
there’s a click  in my telephone just before i hang up
healthy paranoia from the j. edgar & nixon days
how did we say where they could touch themselves
i am thinking of anna akhmatova upstairs in her cold room
listening  to the stairs creak under the weight of heavy
no anna it’s only the wind  click
nazim hikmet sentenced 28 years for
inciting turkish cadets to revolt
for reading his poems
i am writing my canto general inside a room stained
by layers of old and sick nobodies  shut-in
not shaving against fascist accusations from out county courthouse
that the poetry mural i built with inmates from their tattoo and a poem
 prompts inmates to escape
its lettering is satanic
in the name of garcía lorca and kim chi ha
flying out of their fables above the barbed concertina wire
in the name of my dead sister’s torment and persecution
by the military for having loved other women
and all my sister poets in the world who open their mouths at the table
or at the organized meeting after standing
and are not seen again in public for a long time after
and my brother poets   except in america where are you
dying without your voices   hello   hello                                  

One of Us

(St. Elizabeth’s Poem Fusion)

created & arranged by CRAIG CZURY from conversations and poems written 
by his Creative Writing Workshop participants at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital

                        I seen two birds sitting in a tree
                        when one bird says
                        I wish I could fly like that
                        The other one said
                        You could fly like that
                        if your ass was on fire

The walls have dissolved years ago

      One of us is writing on the pool table
      with his eyes closed,
      picks up his paper
      and reads
      clear through his eyelids
              When I was a security guard
              at the Metro Station
              one night about 11:00
              I felt a big bird fly over my head
              like one of those predatory birds
              it was black.
              I felt the spirit of it.
              I felt the spirit of the bird
              fly over my head
              and I said I’m gonna name it CRANE

        one of us says  pointing up

     We all know about the inner voice

Oh yes, you mean you want us to write from our inner voice? Hell, I got inner voices! Which one do you want to hear from? The trouble is that when one of my inner voices clears itself from the others the others fall in line behind it and then I get really tired and have to go sleep.

                              This poetic session is now OPEN!

                        window facing the bricks 
                        over an alley
                        where I won’t step out
                        because of
                        because of because of
                        ashamed to act on impulse
I was listening to a forbidden place

              I turn over and lose the covers
              stretch my legs off the bed
              and pull my weight up
              into the dark toward the hallway light

Putting on a face
is like something you want to do
but you can’t do it here

              can’t ever go to the

                        the space between the curtains
                        that allows enough light
                        to see the courtyard

              the space between misery and bliss

around & round they go
where they stop   nobody

       A lonesome place

                        They are playing a game of senses
                        that all don’t understand all the rules

to play is not a game

clear or whatever
         or whatever
         or what
         toward evening

                        the one that plays the games for years
                        meaning 8 and when the other 4 go plus 
                        4 more come in then
                        they cannot play

remembering  who I used to be
lonesome and open

                        One of us is sitting quietly in the laundry room
                        with his own thoughts
                                                                       somewhere between

              my mind was somewhere else
              when I got here

                        I’ve been touched
                        in a place where
                        there used to be
                               no difference
                        what he took away from me
                        her was warm
                        kind and gentle

              I’ve been touched
              in a place where I used to feel pain
              in the middle of
              the act of love when
              I called out my
              wife’s name

I started wondering
and my mind just left me

              I’d be walking the halls 
              listening to my walkman

                        I didn’t ask her if I could write

                                Come over here and tell me a story

                        No, we’re too close to the fire

                        Then I asked her if I could write to her

No, keep your head up
you can learn a lot from children

              I say riiiiight?
                             he say Riiiiight

                                                First of all I’m taboo

                        They hear and don’t 

                         (One of us says to rest the soul)

To you I have not yet met:

I see you all the time in dreams
but your face keeps changing
even your hair color
sometimes you’re tiny

The other night when I sat down in the room
you were curled up on the floor 
on top of pillows
your face was slender and dark

                        First of all I’m taboo
              everyone wants to examine my head

                        they hear and don’t hear
                        they see and don’t see

If you can’t understand my silence
how can you understand my words

              I really don’t think these people
              have a consciousness of God

                        But I’m a little older

              I don’t play around in the mix of things

                        seeing more than they do

              they don’t see what he sees

it’s like Bureaucracy
like the King with no suit on
and I was going to write a poem  about
people playing childhood games

                        Civilside — the John Howard look-see

the old ones that been doing it for years

                        false pretense perpetuates

                        when a guy gets something
                        he’s one way

                               One of us says we have to pretend we’re alright 

                        False pretense
                        Perpetuating the fraud
                        pretending that you’re feeling ok about a medicine
                        feeling one way and saying another

It’s not us the ones who are locked up 
it’s them out there    (pointing to the window)


              I’m not good at thinking on my feet

I have to lie down on my bed
to open up my mind
to get a bird’s eye view of everything

                        lets me see me
                        when I give it the right touch up it also makes
                        me wish I could disappear and appear
                        some place else like “beam me down, Scotty”

                                   where your surroundings and the people in them
                                   are building for how you live and take
                                   in the facts of life at that time
                                   in that particular place

              Wind   Fire  Water   Earth
              personalities like and different

                                   not like an ordinary one 
                                   there are things that make me feel
                                   very sleepy a lot   feel vacant 

                        a nasty taste

                                                                 human nature or self awareness 

the outside of the world 
is shaped from within

              the cycle set up
              where I can return to that land from which I rose up

                                                                 calm and relaxation 

                                   cleansing my thoughts and emotion 
                                   while bringing back everything fresh again.


created & designed by Craig Czury
 from poems written by patients 
whose names cannot be released
from Czury’s Poetry Workshop
St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, John Howard Pavilion
Washington, D.C. 1996.
An AmeriCorps*WritersCorps Project



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everything published 
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with the authors.


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