Poems & Poetry Publications


Selection from the book: Distant Fires
By Christian Narkiewicz-Laine


In these dreams, I have
built a place.
You throughout—and
a house in the mountains
with a small bed and a window
and the sound of a rushing stream.

Something happens here—
where the sky can be touched

by the shadows of years,
three flights from where
the soul strives to reconcile
the span of heaven.

And, by the day beyond,
to see you coming and going,
half of you along the roadside,
the other half immersed in a dream.

Seven Days

The mind often returns
to these fixed objects
in these same rooms,
no matter the different locations.

Each time, the eyes, the thoughts
are captives of the same
hopeless situations in
these same habitual rooms.

Always, two monotonous beds are
symmetrically placed
and always facing the same,
identical, anonymous door.

Behind—familiar abandonment;
this dark sense of expectation,
nonetheless, in front of
the same usual empty stare.

Our identical thoughts are
always joined to these same
alien objects, the same lies
arranged in these unchanging rooms.

The rooms are uniform; nondescript.
Constant, vacuous, unbroken as are
all containers for these emotions
that cannot transcend.

The predestined hopelessness
is always unexpectedly identical:
the same indifferently positioned beds;
the same unmindful, meaningless doors.

The house knows
your constant smell.
Sitting in rooms we
know and have known.
I study the surfaces
that contain you.

Beside my bed, I hold
quiet conversations—
A talk with empty walls
that today anticipate your return.

How much have I become a part
of these long, vague days.

Your familiar smell;
your belongings.
How much have I
become the same.

You limit your conversations
to wordless exchange.
You speak in half-sentences;
uncommitted stares.

The contradiction within you
could never be
uncovered, deciphered.
And I, this open landscape,
have learned to conceal everything:
A paradox.

At night, you depart from within:
Another form, another shape.
And when I move my hand
to touch this vision,
your other half appears:
A paradox confirmed.

Once I became sick for several days,
wet with fever and buying inside.
I called for you—
but I could not remember your name.

The Day Of Your Burning

Why did they burn you
in the Campo dei Fiori?

You look so dignified, so aristocratic.
Surely, you are as every mother's son—
born from the labor of pains and dreams.
Now, no one can see your face, Beloved Saint.
They have extinguished you.

Were you excommunicated?
A Holy Man, a Prophet that day transformed.
You must have illustrated how much you
savored your God.
You must have trespassed forbidden dreams.
You must have passed the universe before your eyes.

We can only think about 
the day they martyred you.
You look so still, so void of life.
Yet, the fire must have been some
extraordinary event—
a moment that flourished within
and released you from the bondage of your
passionate, unrelenting want.

I love the fire that drank you.
Its color, the fragrance of flesh;
its soothing consummation.
Your heart must have drank until the last second
when your eyes could no longer see this
marvelous city and the riches of its temples.

Surely, too, the temples were on fire!
Did you not see the gods arrive for your day?
Those wondrous heroes—Mars and Jupiter—
festooned with flowers, exotic scents,
rituals, processions, sacrifices,
and the glory that only Rome could dream.

Dream now your silence.
We dream, one at your hem.
Your solitary figure stands guard in an empty city
that crumbles before its final episode
when the last of the barbarians finally set in.

October 17

Refuge in the landscape.
Refuge in the large clouds
above the road.

I am sleeping as I
walk, turned inside out,
broke, no one
to prepare my dinner.

The scent of you lingers
throughout the house.

I can still taste you.
In a dream.
While awake.

My empty bed
confirms the loss.


Human time is myopic;
an illusion.

Everything races to its own destruction;
spring to summer, fall to winter:
birth to life to death.

What does this say
about the natural condition
an irreversible order of things?

At this point or harbor
or birth or death,
the stars above are only
objects that are ours,
and still, they too vanish
at the first thrust of light's full force.

Time tears away
and tears apart.

North Sea Crossing

Our immediate memories
like trees, they fall; and vanish.
Into the void—the forests and the frost
fall onto the earth.

The strong birches and pines
touch the sky in silence.
They are eternal and endless
in their expanse; their emptiness.

I have never seen nature so conspiring.

There is no other profound
moment of complete solitude
than the countryside defined by its
shifting clouds and its changing seasons.

Layers of clouds; black on white;
gray on white; white on gray
are assuming new forms, new layers.

A child in quiet dream
awakes from a natural sleep.

And, then, there is the wind:
it blows from nothing
and into nothingness.
It simply evaporates unknowingly
into the thick, dense forest.

Night Stars

Somewhere, at the storm's edge,
where jets fly,
perfect cities await,
perfect harmonies unfold nights
of amazing clear skies and
breathtaking views of heaven—
identical to the one night,
I could never forget,
standing near the dark City of Delphi.

A Universe

Behind the ancient gold mask,
the universe awaits.
No, I wait:
Not for the universe as I think if it,
but the universe as it thinks of me
with fleeting suns and whirling planets,
with empty spaces and exploding stars,
with its swarm of time and its light years away,
with its indistinguishable depth.
It all rotates.
It expands and scatters
in the primitive mind.

The blackened universe—
my senses extol it
in a language I cannot master.
(Some words cannot be expressed.)
The beginning and the ending:
Alpha to Omega—
in the perfection of symmetries,
in the garden of chaos,
in the belief of the unknown,
in the insomniac dreams of delight,
in the vague shadows around the bed,
Universal man abounds in ambivalent eternity.

Mortal man.
Sexual man.
The man of destiny.
The man of Michelangelo.
St. Bartholomew bears the skin of man.
The mystery of man.
The psychology of man.

Man disfigured.
Man and his gods.
We have crushed man.
We have punished man.

We have killed man,
in the name of the gods,
and built pyramids of death.
Who can remember?
(Why should we remember?)

The epiphanies of racial and folk evolution.
The pronouncement of the races.
The incarnation of the universal spirit.
The annunciation of the sexes.
The concert of the masses.
And no one remembers—

Man and memory evolved
from the same labyrinth.

Warsaw Last

I had not yet heard
the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,
but I had already encountered
its lamenting movements
and its seductive, double-bass measure.

That night in Warsaw,
I saw the film of myself—alone,
observed from up above;
viewed from opposite my window,
moving silently about my room.

Outside, the icy pavements
are covered in darkness
and surfaced in isolation,
where the whores stand outside
my hotel on Jerozolimskie Street.

This is a mysterious city—
a dark city,
especially when the fog enshrouds
the buildings in an old, gray silhouette—
and the mirror of myself moving about
between the taxis and the windshield wipers
and the frozen rain;following a shadow
walking, watching, and wanting
in Warsaw's Plac Defilad.

It is such an immense space
that breathes of you
and tells you about the murders
and those that have vanished in
its vastness.

In my room, I wait and long for you,
while I examine the possessions
that have traveled with me—
item by item,
edge by edge,
as I contemplate
what this night is all about.


Beate Beatrix

Beauty, your eyes esoteric.
Antibiotic, subtle, hypnotic.

Deliver me the prosaic.
A trance sublime aesthetic.

Love, the wondrous illogic.
Utopian, ethereal, erotic.

The mind, the essence, the tragic.
For Dionysiac pleasures enigmatic.

Behold, these poisoned night erratic!
Born on the catafalque; designed nomadic.

Summons an awareness; sensuous, hygienic.
Seize me, Aphrodite, your eyes pyretic!

Clothe me, my beloved, symphonic.
Illuminated, radiant, volcanic.

The visions, mystic ecstatic.
Inscribed upon this soul, emblematic.

For you, my betrothed, apocalyptic.
An embrace, unconscious, paralytic.

Copyright ©1996 Metropolitan Arts Press Ltd.