Karen Kovacik


Karen Kovacik teaches at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Her awards include a Trustees' Teaching Award, Charity Randall Citation from the International Poetry Forum, Best Book of Indiana Award for Metropolis Burning, Fulbright Research Grant to Warsaw and others. Her publications include Return of the Prodigal (Poetry Atlanta Press 1991), Nixon and I (Kent State University Press 1998), Beyond the Velvet Curtain (Kent State University Press 1999), and Metropolis Burning (Cleveland State, 2005); articles in Women's Studies Quarterly and NWSA Journal; numerous poems and stories in Glimmer Train, Chelsea, Massachusetts Review, Salmagundi; translations of Polish poetry in APR, Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Mid-American Review, West Branch

Warsaw Architect


 Let there be modernism, he says, and in the radiant flat world
arising on his square of bristol, a cube shimmers.
Then balconies appear, and freshly waxed floors, and kitchens
still innocent of grease and smoke. Will he add
some tall cones of cedar or a brush tip of poplar?
Anything is possible beneath the thin gouache sky.


His own apartment is a wreck of central planning:
low ceilings, cracked tile, the orange linoleum
of some Seventies’ utopia. Exposed wires
dangle in the hall, the lift reeks of garbage.
A Freudian billboard obscures the house number
with praise for a cigarette “both strong and hard.”


How does he move between these realms?
What passport of intellect or spirit allows him
to forsake parabola and grid for this corridor
weeping with onions? On his screen,
Warsaw appears flat as paper, a page erased by fire,
before granite dreams of coalminers holding up the world.


Outside a cold rain, chimneys and pavement
the color of tea, women hauling in stockings
from the balconies. I love the hand’s provisional flourish,
before the first line, when anything can emerge—
even this Austrian market with suburban shoppers,

even this highrise of breakfast flakes, this Danube of soda.




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