Two Poems by Mark Wisniewski


twice this new year
10 or more robins have all at once risen from the same
patch of brush

both times mornings 20 or colder
at first I thought their ascent the latest sign
of the end
of the world but this morning they seemed more like guests
in your kitchen just after you wake

making their own coffee
pausing slightly longer to greet you than
they did yesterday

& on down the road lay the bloated raccoon

free of flies thanks to this arctic chill
maybe unseen by the town’s
highway department

4 of whom sat sipping in orange trucks
on the plowed lot beside
the post office

where no words hinted
of strangers I’d

touched but no one had felt enough
to hate either

those days of tenure-lust & attorneys &
department chairs hollowed by time

which lately

with its recent

now seemingly endless rush
has begun to flash
its own cruelty


the phone rings & I screen
& it’s a woman & I
stand poised & she asks
for me then proves to be
a writer in Manhattan who sent me her
stories back when
I was willing
to edit strangers’
work gratis

many of those people’s minds were
unstable & again she asks if I’m there


breathes raggedly

asks for my return call trying
to induce it by not

saying what she wants
apparently unaware I’ve been plied

by this trick so often
I could strangle anyone
who employs it

minutes later she
again calls & leaves roughly
the same message adding
she’s still
not sure how to say
my last name–& I think

well I’ll give you

5 more calls
of hers perforate the day
& with each I still
hope then ingest

despair so each time I revisit
disappointment in her &

finally I remember she was in her
80’s when I edited
her which means she’s now
old enough to have lost
her mind & with this conclusion in mine I leave

the house telling myself–out
loud & more
than once–that for

me there is
always tomorrow

Mark Wisniewski’s poems have appeared fairly widely. He is still the author of Confessions of a Polish Used Car Salesman.