Friday, May 7, 2010

The Good Death by John Guzlowski

The Good Death

My father says
in time he'll learn
to listen to the Polonaise
and not hear Sikorski
or Warsaw, the hollow surge
and dust of German tanks,

only Chopin,
his staff of clean notes
and precise legato.

His dreams will be
of crystalled trees,
papered gifts
in red half light,
the smell of warm sheds
and girls drawing milk
from waiting cows.

The snow will fall
and go unnoticed.


From the Language of Mules by John Guzlowski. You can read more about John Guzlowski's father and mother and their experiences in WWII at Lightning and Ashes.

The poem also appears in the anthology celebrating Chopin's 200 birthday, Chopin with Cherries from Moonrise Press.



  1. A gorgeous image and a touching poem

  2. love the ambiguity of the last line. love 'the hollow surge of Nazi..." For all they did, they were indeed hollow.

  3. A good observation about the hollowness of the Nazis. All totalitarian ideologies try to kill the inner life, so you become a robot, a drone, a killing machine. Having an inner life is already the opposite of blind obedience.

  4. This poem is so artistic. It's one of those rare poems that start running around in my mind after only a single reading.

    I also feel very lucky that I can listen to Chopin without thinking of WWII. Music being so evocative, I can also see that there are (or were: the survivors are now old and few)those for whom Chopin brings the grievous memories.