Poems by Thomas Piekarski
Published in March-April 2018 Issue

Introduction to the Poet: 

Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly and Pushcart Prize nominee. His poetry and interviews have appeared in literary journals internationally, including Nimrod, Florida English Journal, Cream City Review, Mandala Journal, Poetry Salzburg, Poetry Quarterly, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, and Boston Poetry Magazine. He has published a travel book, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems.


Who Will Stick Up For the People?  


What god or king or demagogue can assure us

that every countryman gets fed,

that politicians be true their word,

that women are afforded equal rights,

that smokestacks will eventually die?


Pouting about the chapter where love lost its way

is the high school teacher whose students

will have to go without physical education

because the budget was cut to the bone.

Those responsible like to tout the good book

claiming they abide by its imperatives

but their actions ooze blatant hypocrisy.


Honor hobos who rode over the divide with bindles

like undead stuffed in filthy rail cars,

like Nixon or Chief Joseph or Goliath,

steel wheels screeching over tracks,

truckers and farmers they passed

waving, giving them a hearty high-ho!

But lo! the fallen warriors have returned,

unleashed from deep graves to roost

upon steep chapel spires, on fire, riddled

in disbelief of the republic’s shocking nosedive.


Accused of being dope peddlers blacks rounded up

and locked in hot jail cells, sweaty

and seething with hatred for the white race,

their rebellion pent up, pockets fleeced.

And in some cities they used pepper spray

on the marchers, while here at home workers

broke and destitute crammed the capitol steps

begging for a livable wage, scared that before

long their jobs will be replaced by robots.


Some day we’ll look back and know why it happened

to the little girl who couldn’t beat lupus,

to the refugee who hid in a basement,

to the accountant who defecated in an alley,

to lakes gone dry or poisoned,

to the bus driver whose house was foreclosed,

to the senator bribed by Russians,

to Zenith, Pontiac, RCA, Blockbuster,

to subways gurgling ocean water.

This land is your land and my land from Tucumcari

to as far as our imaginations can take us.

And feeling highfalutin is the homeless bum

who lights a cigarette beside his tent

camped out by railroad tracks,

alchemical jazz notes ringing in his ears,

cheap steak cooked medium well, out alone

where buffalo roamed under full moons

and the air was fit to breathe. Nowadays

emails battle spam filters, and future history

as if artificially inseminated deduces

there once was a shining city atop an emerald hill

that was vomited as afterbirth of a dead universe.


Armed with Tommy guns loaded and pointed at you

Al Capone’s mob is imbedded in your psyche,

America. You’re the land of inverse justice.

The people recorded, the people sorted, unequal,

and they know it. Millions of your working class

exiled to lives of utter mediocrity, battle worn

prisoners sniveling under the giant thumb

of Dow Chemical and those thug Koch brothers.




They Came From Kingdom Come


They take a sip of absinthe and then imagine that life extends

beyond distended dreams. They pour sweet cream into a cup

of luck they brought from heaven, and swim streams of dearth

expecting something better. They breathe until eternity ceases

and consciousness invents a life. They are precisely whatever

they believe they are whether at the peak of health or lacking

vital fluids. They would like to make a difference but defiance

blockades the spirit. They long for those times when valentines

were swapped in grade school. They play xylophones after dark

and walk nude about swampy cities by day. They think out loud

but their thoughts can never crystallize. They were all astronauts

once upon a rainbow. They idolize movie stars they haven’t met.

They fawn no maniacal mango OZ come to disturb their solitude.

They will pick your pocket if you turn your back for an instant

and intend to pay you back some day when their ships come in.







There is nothing so petty as annihilation unless it takes place

as an act of Nature, comes seamlessly and in absolute silence.

We must repel the advancing juggernaut disguised as freedom

whose jaws are vicious and pockets loaded with wasted taxes.


We have patrician politicians openly gloating while invalids

shine shoes on Broadway for a pinch of smack. Sophomoric,

technocrats will inherit this mess, the detritus we much favor

in lieu of pristine beginnings lately crushed with disillusion.


Tell the story the way it was supposed to be told the toad atop

a poison mushroom counseled. But they weren’t listening since

no voices could be heard, they born deaf and dumb as a stone,

those gypsies playing out lives of sobriety and blind reason.


The houses being built across the street will eventually crumble

so why bother? And Gods buried deep in mythology tint minds

shades of sheer laughter unheard by lesser gods we live in awe

of bridge, those bridges blown up and reconstructed from blood.


Actions reap consequences like predestination, and a helicopter

circles the hazy city sky in search of outlaws with coonskin caps

and brush fires out of control. The systolic pressures built inside

a planet aching to be reborn will tear apart the tears we mobilize.


Another day another holler not heard anywhere in the universe

because it was too obscene to be real, yet inevitably a signal

of what’s to come. Meanwhile seers distain and pirates abide

proliferation of seedy critters that our science can’t obliterate.