Poetry promotion – Silence and Chopin by Dorota Szumilas



Title: Cisza i Chopin / Silence and Chopin
Author: Dorota Szumilas
Printed: Kraków : Ed. By Miniatura, 2012.
Pages: 96 pages
ISBN: 978-83-7606-460-4
Publisher: http://miniatura1107.republika.pl/poezja1.htm
Contact: miniatura@autograf.pl
Language: Original in Polish by Dorota Szumila. Translated into English by Urszula Sledziewska-Bolinska and Dorota Bogumila-Zegarowska.


(P18 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)


is like a huge sphere
lined with paths
winding in the darkness
a sunray falls on my face
bringing a gentle smile
that’s how it was
you can’t deny it
I remember
to build my identity
I forget
to go further without unnecessary words
I’m always between one
and another
in the reality of dilemmas


(P20 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)


Don’t let my soul
be torn by sorrow
let moments tied
with sobs
be gone
let heart’s wail
and soul’s howl
into oblivion.


(P24 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)


I’ll write to you
about the joy of
“good words”
Among letters
numbers and all kinds of
Something more maybe+
I forgot 100%
Perhaps 1/100 🙂 at recollections
I also cry sometimes
a little
Because I may not see
the good words


(P32 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)


So what are you going to tell me?
That leaves have fallen down from
that the wind is blowing
and it’s raining
that it’s cold…
Tell me more!
Tell me that I’m not really sad
And I’ll tell you
that I’m very happy!


(P36 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)


despite your efforts and attempts
until eternity
you can always come back
there is always time…
perhaps it’s best not to put it off
so that you don’t have to start
over again…
it needs contemplation
so that you can move on


(P48 of ‘Silence and Chopin’ by Dorota Szumilas)


She still has sunken eyes
In the absence of love
Happiness is in the other side
of her gaze
As a juxtaposition to the unattainable

She sinks into herself
As a sound fading into the vastness of
the forest

That will bounce off trees echoless
This time…

A few tears of helplessness may fall
And then you won’t even find tears
to cry

And the coming darkness
Will sink into itself for good


Information about the author:

Dorota Szumilas is a graduate of the Institute of Information Science and Book Studies at the University of Warsaw and the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw. Her poetry books have been translated into German, Ukranian, Belarusian and her poems have also been translated into English, Russian, Slovak and Pashto. She is a member of the Polish Association of Authors and Siwobrowych Poetów Association in Krakow. Her published poems and literary views appear in: Poetry Today, Kwartalnik Kulturalny (ed. by Andrezej Debowski), Radostowa, Hybryda (artistic and literary writings of the Association of Creative Pol-art in Krakow), Podlaski Tygodnik Kulturalny, Prace Pienińskie, Migotania, sZAFa, Znaj and the Pisarze.pl. Dorota Szumilas is one of the authors of the second and third editions of ‘Contemporary writers of Poland’. She gave speeches at both the Slavic Poetry Festival and World Poetry Day in Warsaw.

Dorota Szumilas’ website is at: http://dorotaszumilas.blogspot.com

Caitlin Woolley – Fiction


Don’t say no when they tell you to follow. Don’t say no when they invite Dan, the new boy with the lazy eye and the sour smell. Encourage him when he seems doubtful because his family might be rich. Threaten him if you have to. Tell him not to go home right after school, even if he promised his mother, even if you promised yours. Don’t laugh when Dan trips over the hole in the wire fence behind the school. Grin from ear to ear when Marcus claps you on the back and then Dan as if either of you played football. The clap makes you feel hollow inside like your bones are brittle as a baby’s, but the thickening treeline tells you it is time to let the silence fall. Don’t make a noise when the fence cuts you. Let the blood soak into a fold in your jeans because you know that if they smell it you will be the lamb. Keep quiet until you’re past the road. Watch Sandy’s ass as you follow her into the woods, but don’t get so distracted you snap twigs. When it is darker and the air is heavier, take the cue from the others and titter at Dan’s nervous joke, laugh differently when Sandy says she doesn’t know which eye to look at when he’s talking. Pretend his “I know, right” is truthful. Listen for the hissing of the creek now, listen for the density of birds’ wings. Listen for the snap of a sandal as Jenny trips over the ground. Look to Marcus when he grabs her by the arm and tells her to be careful. You know that you will always look to Marcus; you know that he knows it too. He is big brawn and blonde and in these woods you feel so thin. Your favorite part of coming here is the silence: immense, crushing, you can’t believe that it doesn’t swallow you. When Sandy lights the pipe and offers it to you, accept it. Feel electric when your fingers touch. Then when everything is stars, gaze up at the graying light and beg it to bleed into you, seep into everything beating and vital. You still have a splinter in your ear from the last time you came here and a loose tooth from the time before. Let your tongue roll over the slick slide of tooth to pay its rightful homage. By the time you reach the deepest part of the woods you will see the creek, a scar in the land, and you will feel like bursting. You’re the only one who has stayed so far. Joe fled the trees last time with a black eye and Alex a broken thumb. But this is your fifth time: be proud of that. You are invited as long as you survive. Sandy and Jenny lean against a tree and pass the pipe back and forth between them. When Marcus strips away his shirt, strip yours. Try to do it in time with him. Then, stare Dan down until he wriggles out of his long sleeves. Veiled threats are what you do now. It makes you useful. Feel contempt for Dan’s thin body and try not to think of it as your own, soft and narrow and so white in the darkness of the forest. Try to comfort Dan when he panics, but not too much. He knows why he is here and why you were the one to invite him. Now, look to Marcus because you both know that is what you do, too; look to him as he swings a broad fist into the air in front of him. The sound of it clapping against Dan’s cheek is thrilling, his yelp a frail sound that dies in the air. Let his weak punch at Marcus delight you. Rock back and forth on your toes. Marcus tosses his fist again and hits Dan squarely in the face, and then a few more times, taking more than his turn. Dan is bloodied and wonderful and Marcus, radiant, with barely a mark. If he moves to hit you, you will let him, you will be ready, you will be leaning in, you will be braced, you will feel something. But then you will see in the ripple of his skin that he isn’t coming for you. Imagine it happening just before it does, to experience it fully, the sound of Sandy’s soft voice in your ears: Marcus’ hulk exploding into Dan, the thud of the two of them as they skid across the earth, red dirt kicking up like voices. Putting up a solid block is how you got to stay and you know it will be the same for Dan. Only it isn’t. What you don’t imagine is the crack of skull as Dan hits the great alder behind him, the soft searching in his eyes before he crumples and his body rolls down into the creek. When the wet sounds stop he will be face down in the water, a red and white stripe in the dark. Marcus stands over the side of the creek, blank-faced, his fist still clenched in red momentum not yet gone. Dan will not get up and the creek flowing around his crown, stained. Marcus and the girls spare only a moment before they bolt from the woods, breaking all the branches. In seconds you are alone there, the only one who would see the boy in the creek move. But you say to yourself that there will be nothing to see because you are always the one who survives. Turn. Look away. If you leave the woods now it will be with your truth discolored. Maybe you are being swallowed after all.


Caitlin Woolley recently earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She now lives and works in Seattle.

Frederick Pollack – 5 poems


The spooks have left the facility
just over the line
in Maryland. Russian weeds
(you can tell by their stealth) and
dust from the Caliphate
are occupying the parking lot.
There was never a sign
to remove, except the generic one
of government. Orange steel prongs
still fiercely guard
the driveway. A picnic table warps.
Driving past, one saw them
there or on benches by the aging brick
at lunchtime: knit sweaters,
skirts. Glasses, pills
no doubt, a stoop;
the young among them
quickly taking on
the ordinary tone. But the true self
pocketed the silenced
pistol, slipped the drive
from the clothes of the sated
sleeping target, was the consummating missile;
while another peered
downhill at the willows
that were and remain out of bounds.



Notations of nearby torture: walls,
a table no more solid
than what he works on, leeks
like bones beneath a skull;
then after Normandy, small plates of cherries.
In ‘46 in Antibes the latter
give way to sea urchins – unprepossessing,
vulgar, self-possessed. They become brown stars.
Attend great vegetable breasts
and feasts of eel and squid
and the owl (hurt, from the second floor
of the castle, his new studio)
that becomes a model. A photo shows
both sets of eyes. But the oval that perches
on armrests and pecks
at frames is watchful. Like Françoise,
who yields at last, moves in. Her features resist.
Satyrs and fauns and centaurs dance for her,
a helix with a tambourine.
He considers what to give the Communists,
what not. A poet-Stalin. Later, a dove.
(One bull that year may be America.)
The sea calls from an excited yellow.
Her face extends like a horse, becomes
an arm, a cantilever brooding
on pyramids, eggs and spheres.
The fauns with their hyphen eyes play double flutes
from when Antibes was called Antipolis.
Their smile is not inane but terrifying,
without innocence, duplicity, or harm.
Françoise is pregnant. Before they return
(briefly) to Paris, he paints
on 12/25 a carved grey block on grey,
one end incised with a partial stickman,
another with grapes. 12/26
a more dramatically sculpted block
against cold beige, grapes again
but a loud skull. The next day a skull,
weirdly resembling a flashdrive,
with which Picasso finished my first year.



He was here as a prisoner
in ’44 – ‘46. On the ship
he had sung and acted up
with the rest – a brief furlough
at the enemy’s expense! – but on the train,
crossing the vast green land
with all its cars, he understood
it would win, and accepted that,
dully, like most things. (Not everything;
his family, actually his whole village,
had a fey streak.) The farmer
he was assigned to, immense
and cold, was a familiar figure, his own role
familiar, and soon the farmer said,
“Well, you know one end of a cow
from the other”; and the soldier,
who had learned that much English,
smiled. Nights were hot,
with innumerable loud enormous
bugs, though there was such a wealth
of pesticide! Blacks lived, walked, ate,
made their amusing savage
music at the edge of what he saw.
They occasioned bad dreams,
till he realized that even he
was higher than they. On free
half-days, he wrote halting letters,
and studied moss and trees. Once
the boss and his silent wife
took him to a kind of religious service
in a tent. But the crying
and shrieking, the strange waved salute,
disturbed him, and he was not forced
to return. After the victory,
he was allowed to roam the town.
The graveyard beyond it
seemed old, though the dates
were recent, compared to those in his village.
And many graves (he had learned
some history) were those of traitors …
Beneath that pale moist sky,
he felt how the dead here were
not past but future dead
and there was scarcely enough room for them.



The Wandering Jew isn’t Jewish
but Buddhist. (Finds the role easier.)
His version of the myth
of his origins is strange, surprisingly
upbeat, but he long since forgot it.
Works these days as a bouncer
at the club that took over
the ground floor of a famous hotel
on Lonely Street. (That hotel, by the way,
was supposed to be a boarding house,
but no one cooperated, cooking
or cleaning. Now the rooms
are empty and, rumor has it,
the kitchen is sealed, breeding God knows what.)
They call him by some Chinese-sounding
syllable or other. A little guy,
but there’s nothing he doesn’t know
about locks, throws, pressure points,
crippling and killing touches. (Watch him
in action, and you’d think the natural state
of whatever sized human body
is bouncing off walls or screaming in pain.)
He prefers, however, to defuse
tensions with laughter, mind-games, and a kind
of instantaneous seduction. Meanwhile he mans
the rope. The club
is amazingly popular
for that part of town. Fulgurous light,
heavy metal. Some people
crawl up in their last blood, limos drop
off others. If you ask him about the show,
he’ll shrug. It’s magic. An interesting sort of
pole-dance. A strip down to X-rays.
Perhaps it isn’t a show
at all but an opium den. In any case
the spotty light results from the waving
tentacles of an ultimate black hole,
both male and female at the heart of being.
He giggles. If you ask him about his wanderings,
he’ll talk and talk but it’s all bullshit.
To the general effect that they were bullshit.



The colors are muted jungle.

What’s happening is that broad leaves

overlap. Then their points,

tendrils, hesitantly declare

themselves to be the legs

of wide insects, and there are eyes in there,

looking. So that they aren’t being

absorbed by the forest floor. Perhaps

some muddy transcendence is going on,

and they’re becoming crystal.

So that it’s that rarest

(or so we were taught) of tribal things,

an individual sensibility, an artist

in our sense, who made this. Imagine him

or her, half-mad, sardonic-funny.

Actually, the culture behind him

is what and where? Were influences fused?

The rim of the cup rests more than half

the way down. You contemplate all those shared

germs. And Evans-Pritchard’s description

of how the main wife of a chief rinsed

a visitor’s gourd with her piss. Then you see

and feel that it isn’t baked clay

at all, but plastic. A cleverly faked

antiquity? No, a real product!

So that you can finally put to rest

nostalgia for older worlds and “authenticity.”


Author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press.  A collection of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, was published in March 2015 by Prolific Press. Another collection, LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT, to be published by Smokestack Books (UK), 2018. Pollack has appeared inHudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland),Representations, Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, etc.  Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire  Review, Mudlark,etc.  Recent Web publications in Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Camel Saloon, Kalkion, Gap Toothed Madness, Triggerfish. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University. Poetics: neither navelgazing mainstream nor academic pseudo-avant-garde.

KJ Hannah Greenberg – 1 poem


Abetted by a need to know such things, about most topics,
While lecturing on grownup sands, near swimming pools,
He failed to appreciate recently powered “fusion’s” ken.

Thereafter, in some studies, acquired rights seemed pablum.
Standard faculties soon became, in literary fashion, steep
Conditions for tenure overrides, signs of eponymous others.

Accordingly, his brood, those would-be Ivy Leaguers,
Heads barely elevated from their books, fazed issues
Entailing aerobics, swooning at movies, lizard lunches.

Time and success changed those brainy boobs;
Such status seekers’ sere impacted vanishing
Sororities of wives, mothers, lovers, confidents.

Consistent with some points of view, they spewed litotes,
Cached acanthus, adorned starboard walls with hummingbirds,
Encouraged computer meltdowns (omnificent, not fried).

Worthy diversions, more than extended weekends, finally
Culled their delvings into tossed notions, salad dressing,
Cashmere memories. Care’s needed researching Komodos.


KJ Hannah Greenberg gets high on adverbs, mixes more metaphors than a platypus has pockets, and attempts to matchmake words like “balderdash” and “xylophone.” Occasionally, she also creates mawkish prose. Hannah’s poetry books are: A Grand Sociology Lesson (Lit Fest Press, 2017, Forthcoming), Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2016, Forthcoming), Dancing with Hedgehogs, (Fowlpox Press, 2014), The Little Temple of My Sleeping Bag (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), Citrus-Inspired Ceramics (Aldrich Press, 2013), Intelligence’s Vast Bonfires (Lazarus Media, 2012), Supernal Factors (The Camel Saloon Books on Blog, 2012), Fluid & Crystallized (Fowlpox Press, 2012), and A Bank Robber’s Bad Luck with His Ex-Girlfriend (Unbound CONTENT, 2011).

Geoffrey Heptonstall – Fiction


Imagined myself.


Imagined myself floating down the well between the spirals of the staircase. Imagined the stairs led nowhere. At the top of the stairs an open sky. You could fly bird-like from the top. Supposed that nobody ever did. Supposed it was not going to be like that. Destiny was to fall down, down, down. And never reaching the bottom of the well. Imagined life as one long fall.

Imagined opening the door I had not seen before. Where there had been no door before now there was, the one I imagined myself opening so that I might see what was happening the other side of the high, windowless wall I passed every day. Everyone passed it every day. It was there with or without a door. Today there was a door. That was because I imagined the door. Supposed it to be locked. Found it was not. Opened the door.

Wondered about not doing all that. Wondered about the world without an unexpected opening. All I saw was a high wall. The wall was one of four walls that formed a tower. Supposed there was a purpose for it, a purpose nobody knew. All those involved had fallen, one by one, from the open top. They flew like birds into oblivion. Supposed that was the purpose of the tower, to enable fools to fly. Supposed myself wise. Imagined myself coming down to earth. That was wise. That was me.

Supposed myself wise enough to open the door, but not to step inside. My eyes could see. I could look. Supposed I held the door ajar while I looked. Imagined the door closing anyway. Stronger than I was. The force of the door was stronger than my will. And the door would never open again. Not for me. There was no door. It was all my imagination. The reality was the spiral staircase that led nowhere.

Knew that nowhere is everywhere. Wherever you look is neither here nor there. Knew that I was going nowhere. Supposed that to be the end. If there were to be an end. Knew there was no end.

‘You’ll know me,’ said the man. He was nobody. He was caught in the spider’s web. Everywhere there were webs. I did not see the web I had broken when I opened the door. Supposed that the door had never been opened until now. What was now? Now was the man trapped by the spiders.

Thought he was crazy. Sensible people are not caught by spiders. There must have been a spider close by, but I saw nothing.

‘I see to this place. I do it all,’ the man said. Stared into space as he spoke.. ‘This place is mine.’

‘The web isn’t yours,’ I said.

‘Everything’s mine,’ he said. Then there was silence.

Imagined the silence lasted for ever. Supposed it would be broken soon.

It is, of course.

‘Yes, I know you.’ His thin face, very pale with skin like parchment stretched across his skull, was imploring me to respond. Supposed he wanted me to remember. Something important to say to him. He was sure of that. Was not sure what it was. If he could bring to mind my name, or in what way he knew me, then very likely he was going to bring back what it was I had to tell him

Knew what it was. Wanted me to tell me what had happened to his life. ‘What?’ A good question. Ignored of course.

‘This place is mine. Got the papers.’



‘Yes and no.’ Compromise on that point, or it would be another never ending.

‘I said yes.’ That was true. ‘Of course it’s true. I said it.’

‘I’m afraid…’ Words faded into a line of dots.

‘No, you’re not afraid,’ he said. ‘Fear’s not the word.’

‘It’s a form of words.’

‘They were the wrong words. Say what you mean.’

Meant to say nothing.

‘I’ve no machinery here. No electricity. And no help. I have to do it all. All of it. Had to learn the reason and logic of my way of life. That’s what all my thinking is about. It gives me faith. Do you know that?’

Supposed him to be a man of science. ‘So you’re a man of science, sir.’

‘Do you take me for a fool, young man?’

‘Not sure.’ Trapped in a spider’s web. Only a fool would be caught like that.

‘Did you mean to insult me?’

‘Not sure.’ Supposed he would ignore me now. Imagined climbing the spiral staircase alone in silence at last.

‘Sticks and stones can break my bones. But spiders can inspire me.’ Supposed him not to be there. Supposed him to be a shadow, an echo. Easy to mistake these things for other things. Considered him not. The world of the spider does not resemble our world.

‘The reason and logic of my way of life? There’s none that I can see.’

Supposed he was right. A life of shadows, echoes.

Dark in the stairwell. Spiders move with the light. Imagined myself a spider, moving slowly towards the light of the open sky. Forgot about the man in the web. Was nobody. Not.

Imagined looking back and seeing nothing. Looked back and saw nothing. Imagination and reality the same thing perhaps? Supposed so. Imagined myself flying. Nothing happened.

Woke in the dark. Imagined myself not waking but dreaming. Dreamed I was waking in the dark. Dreamed I was imagining things. Then there was light in the open sky when I looked upwards. Saw shadows. Heard echoes. Knew I was dreaming I was not dreaming.

Imagined life as one gigantic web. Imagined myself as the spider. Wondered about the webs I could weave. Making my way in the dark of the spiral staircase. Thread my way up the well.

Did not see the web he had broken when he opened the door. Did not imagine there was a web. Looked down. Saw nobody there. Only a hint that the thread was broken.

‘Never dreamed I’d be caught.’  Nobody had spoken. Imagined a voice. Imagined a face to match the voice. Saw light somewhere. Spiders move with the light.

Hear much that they cannot see. The world of the spider not our world. Hardly know us except as the vague, menacing presence that unaccountably breaks their delicate webs and their fragile lives.

‘I know you, don’t I?’

Imagined an old man sitting under trees in the park. A cold night the coldest of the season so far. The air was still in the frost. Leaves on the ground, dry and crisp. Crunched underfoot as I walked away. Dreamed I woke again. Thoughts faded into…


Geoffrey Heptonstall has contributed fiction and poetry to Cerise Press, International Literary Quarterly, Pacific Review, Sunk Island Review and many others. His recent performance work includes the UNESCO City of Stories project, the Festival of Firsts and a play, Groby, for the London fringe.