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.



On January 27, 1945, the Russian army came upon Auschwitz and its various camps and subcamps.  


What they found was terrible.


Afraid of anyone seeing what they had been doing in Auschwitz, the Germans went on a killing spree before the arrival of the Russi

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JANUARY 23, 2015 7:44AM

Deflated Poems

Deflating Poems

I have never deflated a poem.

I will never deflate one.

When I pass a poem on to you, you can bet your air pump that it is fully inflated.

JANUARY 22, 2015 8:25AM



I write poems about sparrows too often,  I've been doing it for years.  


My first sparrow poem wasn't really about sparrows.  It was about St. Francis and how his hands taught sparrows to fly.  Since then sparrows are my go to bird.  


If I need… Read full post »

JANUARY 20, 2015 7:54AM

The Last Man on Earth Walks into a Bar

The last man on earth walks into a bar.   


There is no rabbi there, no priest, no imam. 


He sits down and has a drink.   


He wonders if God is lonely too.  


He wonders if that's part of His plan.  He took a sipRead full post »

JANUARY 17, 2015 9:10PM

Never Enough

At the end of the year, I made a list of everything I had published during that year. It was amazing--about 25 stories and poems and I placed a novel with one publisher and a collection of poems with another.  

I kept been complaining about not getting stuff out,Read full post »

DECEMBER 28, 2014 10:20AM

My First Christmas in America

I spent my first Christmases in a refugee camp in Germany.  I didn't learn what Christmas was until I came to America.  


We were living in an apartment with 4 other families. 


One night an old man in a red suit came to the apartment. None of theRead full post »

DECEMBER 17, 2014 10:31PM

Thoreau and Me


Thoreau is an author I love. 
When my daughter was a kid, I would reel out these Thoreau quotes on every occasion whether we were making vegetable soup or going to a funeral.  I would have a quote, and I always acknowledged my quotes.  "Like Thor… Read full post »
DECEMBER 10, 2014 4:24PM

I Like William Faulkner


I hear a lot of complaining about one of my favorite writers, William Faulkner, and I think 95% of it is undeserved.


I've read all of Faulkner--some books more than 4 times.  Most of the books are straight forward reads.  There are probably 3 that are difficult: S

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NOVEMBER 29, 2014 1:30PM

Poet Laureate Mark Strand Passes Away



Mark Strand, a former poet laureate, was one of my favorite poets.  


Here's one of the first poems I read by him.


Eating Poetry


Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.

There is no happiness like mine.

I have been eating poetry.

 … Read full post »


So I'm staring out the window waiting for the Fedex guy to show up and pick up this case of wine we never ordered and didn't want, and I'm wondering what can I do while waiting.  I don't want to do anything where I have to focus too much… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 26, 2014 4:13PM

Thanksgiving Day Poem

I wrote the following poem to thank my parents and all of my relatives who suffered in World War II.  Some like my parents survived and others didn't.


Thanksgiving Day Poem


My people were all Polish people,

the ones who survived to look

in my eyes and touch… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 25, 2014 3:13PM

Landscape with Dead Horses, 1945

Landscape with Dead Horses, 1945


In the end Hitler sat

in his cold bunker

and asked his soldiers

about his horses,


“Where are they?

Where are my horses?”


And no one dared

to tell him,


“They are dead

in the fields

with the Poles

Read full post »
NOVEMBER 23, 2014 8:29PM

6 Short Poems about the Monk Ikkyū

Ikkyu (Ikkyu Sojun), Ikkyu (Ikkyu Sojun) poetry, Buddhist, Buddhist poetry, Zen / Chan poetry,  poetry,  poetry

Ikkyu was an eccentric, iconoclastic Japanese Zen Buddhist monk and poet (1394-1481).  A couple years ago, I wrote a sequence of poems about him.  The poems appeared in the Buddhist Poetry Review.



6 Short Poems about the Monk Ikkyu 



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NOVEMBER 19, 2014 1:10PM

The Emptying by Jerome Rothenberg


Continuing my occasional posting of poems from Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust (ed. Charles Fishman), here's Jerome Rothenberg's Dos Oysleydikn (The Emptying), a mediation on Poland after the Holocaust.


Here's a link to Mr. Rothenberg reading the poe

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My friend Anglo-Polish artist Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk posted some of his family photographs on Facebook recently and wrote some remarks about them.  Originally, he planned only to post 5 photos and his commentary, but the project has expanded.  At this point, he has written about more… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 16, 2014 2:33PM

End of Summer, 2014


End of Summer: 


Summer comes early to southside Virginia.  I start mowing usually around the start of March.  For me that's the official start of Summer.  The calendars tell you it's sometime in late June, but don't believe them.  Calendars are created b… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 15, 2014 2:57PM

Jack Kerouac -- King of the Beats


I watched Kerouac: the King of the Beats, a documentary on Kerouac and 10 minutes of a movie based on K's novel Big Sur this morning, on Netflix.  In the 60s I was a big Kerouac fan, read my first Kerouac novel as I was walking home from finding… Read full post »

I first heard of World War I when we came to America as Displaced Persons in 1951. We were refugees after World War II, and we moved into a basement apartment on Hamilton Street in Chicago.


Our landlord was a veteran of the First World War. He was a… Read full post »


I first saw him in front of the barracks. He was walking with six other prisoners, a German soldier behind them pushing at them with some kind of rifle. Your father wasn’t how he is now. He was skinny then, like two shoelaces tied together.


I was notRead full post »

NOVEMBER 7, 2014 8:41PM



My father knew men and animals 
did not die the same way.  A man 
would kill a horse or a cow or a pig 
with respect he’d never show a man.  

Killing a pig, a man would steady it, 
prepare it for the single… Read full post »
NOVEMBER 4, 2014 8:51PM

At 40 His Wife Begins to Write Poems


At 40 His Wife Begins to Write Poems

Each night, they come to her in dreams,
and when she can’t listen anymore,
she wakes and writes in darkness,
the shadows from the street falling
through the blinds and onto the paper,
like whispers.

She feels her husband beside her,
sleeping in a wor/
Read full post »

OCTOBER 29, 2014 9:46PM

The Day My Mother Felt Good



The Day My Mother Felt Good


Monday she’d been crying a lot
thinking she’d never walk again.


It was the Jerry Lewis Telethon
that did it to her, listening to him 
talk about the kids who can’t walk. 
She felt he was talking about her. 
My/… Read full post »

OCTOBER 28, 2014 3:09PM

Dreaming in Buchenwald



Dreaming in Buchenwald


The world burns before our eyes, 
and the smell of everything red
is on our skin.

We wait in line for bread
that never comes. We speak
to strangers thinking they will
tell us where our lives are.

We pray in the barracks 
and the fields for the mi/… Read full post »

OCTOBER 15, 2014 10:08PM

The Coming of Columbus


The Coming of Columbus


trees paused

their slow growth

upward and outward

and leaves stopped

unfolding into

the waiting air


In the tallest branches

birds leaned

their crooked beaks

into the windRead full post »

OCTOBER 15, 2014 11:36AM

A German Soldier Urinates in a Bus

He stood up and braced himself against a crate and unbuttoned his trousers. He had to relieve himself, and this was a good place. Even though it was cold in the bus, he could smell that other men had done the same thing here, and for the same reason. It… Read full post »