john guzlowski

john guzlowski
Danville, Virginia, USA
June 22
I was born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II, and came with my Polish Catholic parents Jan and Tekla and my sister Donna to the United States as Displaced Persons in 1951. My parents had been slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and DP neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, I met Jewish hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. I write about these people.


SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 6:47PM

What Keeps a Man Alive


My father didn’t know why he didn’t die when so many of his friends did.

He once told a story about being hauled out of his barracks with hundreds of other prisoners for a roll call. It was a January night, snowing and below zero, and the men were

Read full post »
SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 8:25AM

End of Civilization Update


We had this electrician over a couple of days ago and he was complaining that our welfare system is using up money that rightly should be going to the military.

Then he asked me to join his church. Read full post »



75th Anniversary of the Invasion of Poland:

When you read about history in the history books, it’s all so clear. The numbers make it seem that way. Numbers, people say, don’t lie. A thing begins on a certain date, and it ends on another particular date. You see the… Read full post »


This is a poem by Stephen Herz, author of Marked: Poems of the Holocaust.





Wars don't change except in name

The next one must go just the same

--Robert Graves



You squeeze the trigger and shout: I've… Read full post »

Jonathan Wolfman, who hosts a radio program called Passionate Justice, recently read one of my poems on his show. The poem is "10 things I see from the division street bus,1967."

The poem describes a bus ride from the corner of Division and California to the corner… Read full post »



The poem below, like the picture above, is me, around 1968.


Don't ask about the hat.



38 Easy Steps to Carlyle’s Everlasting Yeah


After living with Rod Mckuen in the horse-filled streets of Sandusky

Arise and sing naked

And dance naked

And visit

Read full post »
AUGUST 16, 2014 9:31PM

Talking to My Mother

I remember one of the last conversations my mom and I had about the war. She was 83 years old and dying of all the things she was dying from, and we were sitting in her living room in the evening, and she was telling me about the war, her life… Read full post »

The following is an old post I did in 2007 about my parents and what there lives were like during and after WWII.  I wrote it to give people background so they could better understand what I was talking about in my book Lightning and Ashes



&nbs… Read full post »

AUGUST 13, 2014 9:02AM

Post Script on Robin Williams

My mother spent almost 3 years in a concentration camp.

She had tremendous PTSD after the war, depression that lasted for decades, sorrows she could tell no one about.  To her God and man were both worthless, neither could bring her peace.

But she kept on and on because she felt… Read full post »

AUGUST 12, 2014 8:20AM

Every Suicide Hurts

Every suicide hurts.

I think about the sorrow that must have brought it about, and the sorrow that spreads from it.

Here's a link to Lucinda Williams singing her great anti suicide song "sweet old world."


Sweet Old World

See what you lost when… Read full post »

We went to a restaurant for lunch, the beautiful brewery and pub restaurant. It's along the Blue Ridge mountains here in Virginia.


We ordered pizza, and I had a beer, a really great porter.

I got to the bottom of the drink and was drinking it down to… Read full post »


Marked: Poems of the Holocaust by Stephen Herz is probably one of the best poetic introductions to the Holocaust.  In language that is clear and resonant, Herz tells us what we need to know in images and lines that we will not soon forget.



Here are three

Read full post »
JULY 30, 2014 10:16AM

War Reparations


Recently, I was following a discussion on Facebook about reparations from the German Government to people who suffered in the concentration and slave labor camps in Nazi Germany during WWII. 


The discussion centered around whether or not financial reparations can actually c… Read full post »

JULY 14, 2014 4:06PM

The Internet is a Wondrous Place!

About a month ago I was googling myself (seeing what was up with the way I'm interacting with the universe), and I came across a link to an essay on Isaac Bashevis Singer that mentioned me.  I spent about 15 years of my academic career writing about Singer, and so I… Read full post »


It started with Walking Dead and continues through The Last Ship, and soon I'll be watching the Strain and Under the Dome and Extant and Falling Skies.


I'll see the world brought to an end by zombies, vampires, diseases, and alien invasions.


And God maybe.


I… Read full post »

JULY 8, 2014 3:50PM

The Way You Will Go



My friend Sandra Kolankiewicz has a new poem of poems coming out called The Way You Will Go, and she needs to have a certain number of pre-release sales.  

Sandra is a terrific writer.   Here's my short Amazon review of her previous book:

I really can’t tellRead full post »

JULY 7, 2014 11:25AM

Ekphrastic Poem


Ekphrastic Poem: 



In the photo, she stands behind a crescent moon.


Behind her there are clouds, behind the clouds there is always what is always before her eyes. Her mother dead on the floor, her face redrawn by the bullets from the guns of

Read full post »

Ten Things I see from the Division Street Bus, 1967



1.      The young man in a white T-shirt

and black slacks puts his right hand

into his pocket and stands on the corner

of Division and California. 


His left hand holds a paper sho

Read full post »
JUNE 25, 2014 1:50PM

Escape into Life

Margarita Georgiadis, anointed



Five of my poems were recently featured in the online journal Escape into Life. 

The poems are somewhat different from those I normally write.  If you've been coming to this blog for a while, you know I often write about my parents and their experiences in Nazi G… Read full post »

JUNE 25, 2014 10:26AM



Not Not Crazy

Some of us are crazy
and some of us are not 
not crazy.

We live on hunches 
and dream of burgers. 

We wait for God 
like he's Godot.

Not Not!
Who's there?.    Read full post »
JUNE 23, 2014 1:37PM

Aging Isn't Easy

I just turned 66 and last night I got a birthday note from my sister.  She wanted to know about my health, so I told her about the arthritis in my shoulder and knees, the swelling in my ankles that I get more and more often, theRead full post »
JUNE 21, 2014 4:16PM

66th Birthday Bash


Read full post »
JUNE 20, 2014 8:58PM

A Favor

Please click on the link below.  I am trying to encourage a British publisher to do more of my essays and poetry, and he keeps track of how many people click on the essay of mine he published about my mom and how I cooked for her when she got tooRead full post »


It’s simple:

the dinosaurs. 

I mean, why create them?

They’re weird by any stretch of the imagination.  So weird that (if evolution is to be believed) they evolved or didn’t evolve their asses right out of here.  And if you want to discount evolutionRead full post »

JUNE 16, 2014 11:45AM

Letter to Sara

Dear Sara,

Sorry to hear your continuing job troubles. 

All I can do is recommend that you try writing a novel about small town life. I mean it worked for Sherwood Anderson. 

It could still work. 

I mean when was the last time America fell in love with a smallRead full post »