Sunday, January 5, 2014

PA Poet Craig Czury Honors Franz Kline and Irish Bogside Artists

Craig Czury is the author of American Know-How: Patent Pending, Kitchen of Conflict Resolution, In My Silence to Justify, and other books of poetry, translated into several languages. An avid blues harp and bocce player, Czury lives in Reading, PA, where he conducts writing workshops. He also lives in the Springville Schoolhouse, Susquehanna County, and hitchhikes up and down Rt. 29 through the heart of Penn-sylvania’s “fracking” country, conducting interviews with the gas workers, farmers, and locals who give him a lift for his Thumb Notes Almanac. Read more about his "thumb notes" in this 2012 NPR story. Czury's website is

                                        at a glance         
      will arrest you

                                               will stop you in your tracks

                                                                              and search you
                     armed with stone and mortar

                                                         full force in the face

                              painting these walls must have been a fistfight

                                          plastic bullet words

             petrol bomb brushstrokes
                                                       paint stirred in the blood
                              with blood and smoke

                                   there will never be a peace settlement between

                                               mural            billboard          graffiti

                                    no plaster decommissioning

                                                                   when these walls start talking to you
      it's time to rethink your life

talking to Kelly (Willie) at a pub whose name neither of us the next day remember about how murals influence my poetry~how the huge public space of the wall stretches me to expand the private anonymity of the page~not as sheet of paper but wide sky~not closed and shelved with its invisible ink~but intentionally open~each page hung out to dry like a placenta flag (that's a good title) from a newly chartered wasteland~anthem and obituary~poem you can approach/reproach from any entry~right to left~midriff~bottom upward and wandering~the tense of this poem wavers between present (at the moment of seeing) and the past made present (past-present perfect)~I am writing this the day after when all nerve endings are on the surface of memory and pulse~while Unionist/Sinn Fein peace talks hang on a thread of memory and pulse~talking to Kelly on one of those timeless and ancient afternoons about walls~this could be Vilnius 1991 or Lascaux~the way paint teaches me ink is a cutting torch and the page a shredded box~a fist right after hurling a rock wide open screaming STOP.
Derry, N. Ire.14/11/99

Franz Kline, Untitled, 1957
Franz Kline

we come here dressed in our black lung
from which we were born
                                               and kiss you every inch

birds fold you in their wings like tufts of wind
mice nibble your arm in the field before sun
you are the mixture of no-life and its mother
     drunk from a skull
when you settle           the earth moves farther away

again I am reading your history in the charred bricks
like a wind
like a glass of teeth speaking only to its wet tongue
I am scraping my braille across your palm like hair
     do you read me too

sent up in smoke you died
buried on this surface dirt     schchamekhan
                                              eel       stream
mine acid runoff you couldn’t survive if you swam here
naked from birth

each night you see yourself clearer
sitting at the dark window
like an abandoned house
licensed to be demolished
settling closer     beneath the surface

I am counting my face in the water again
in the bottles and trash pooled thirty years
     along the sulfur bank
pockface of rust                layers of cardboard
winter clothes peeled for silt in runoff snow

a man draws water in the cup of his hands
and looks straight into the black
slant-eyed face of God picking its way toward him
                                 through the burning culm

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