Five Prose Poems – By Craig Czury

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One Has Only

to live long enough and opa! anything will happen.
                                                                   —Czury lost in Greece.

For example: Lost in Mexico, follow the barking dogs. Lost in Trieste, follow the gulls. In Bucharest, speak Spanish. Lost in Russia, pantomime. Montreal, follow the women.

Here, I am lost in Piraeus following the smell of fish. I’m still hungover, I mean jet-lagged, but my feet are amazing.  Ah,  my beautiful beleaguered feet two years ago, hobbling around with a stick, I wouldn’t have given a hangnail for. Now, watching where I shouldn’t be going with my infamous primal hunter instinct…

Here’s what I wish for, before the navigational stars take hold and proverbial black hole sucks me in: May I always have the wits to get lost and the skewed wherewithal to never find my way back the same way all the way.


 

The Balconies

are lined with potted trees and behind them the voices of my neighbors talking. Behind them the quiet smell of cumin and garlic. Evening’s setting in. Earlier, I heard music I thought was a neighbor singing with an instrument I wanted to be Aegean conch…even though I know there’s no longer singing. The voices of my neighbors are recordings. The cat on the balcony is mechanical. The plants are projections. The apartment buildings are the shape of cruise ships. This is a port city, and when arriving by ship, pulling into port, you are pulling into an already docked sun glare.


 

I Don’t Know What

the fuck they’re talking about, but I’m here strangely familiar. I can’t catch the pitch, their tones of voices, something I’m usually good at. Such harsh consonants. Makes their faces contort into a way at home as a kid signaled watch out. And I’m watching. Watching their vowels slur out the hard sounds their faces make, waiting for a fight or ecstatic dancing. You’d be scared off it too, the way I grew up scared among refugees from a bleaker world. I never knew what they were talking about hunched over. Hunched-over gestures. Craggy hunched-over faces. Hunched-over yelling and laughing and shouting and throwing punches while laughing. Wanting to grab you while crying. So embarrassingly sad their singing.


 

They Said Cumin And Oregano

and I’m in my speedo at the sea. I like this, the men with their thick white hair and their bellies. Women talk to me. Women offer me food. One time when I was lost, a woman offered me olives. When I was hermetic and symbolic this would have meant something else. What I mean is, I look like everyone’s lost brother, even though I’m an old man. In this tome I’m the grove.


 

But It Was Almost Funny

like when I was waiting on the wrong track trying to get to St. Petersburg thinking the people on the other side getting on trains that were stopping were off to the Crimean…almost…like getting on the wrong bus to get to the wrong tracks with a note from my friends in Russian explaining I was an Американский поэт needing to find the train, and that I was lost…in a moment of history when Америка is pummeling Belgrade into the rubble of a lost city of the former Soviet Union. The bus lady takes my note Американский поэт then passes it around for everyone to read Американский поэт as the bus slows to a stop at a dirt path leading into the woods. Whenever I sense impending doom, I get really slicked up or I undress completely. The passengers, talking among themselves, are looking at me and pointing to the path. The bus lady hands back my note and points to the path. I start undressing. I was warned of this before I got here, If you know any other languages speak them. Pidgin Spanish and Canadian, eh?almost, right? Like with my broken ribs after getting jumped on the stairway… At the Soviet hospital, in the basement the x-ray technician in her thick Russian accent telling me to strip and face the wall, shoulders against the wall, Now, like when they taught me not to flinch with a fake jab or I’d get it even worse…that funny…Now, pant like dog.


 

About the Author

Craig Czury is from the coal mining region of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the author of over 20 books of poetry. A 2021 Fulbright Scholar to Chile, Craig was awarded Laureate of the 2011 Ditët e Naimit International Albanian Poetry Festival, and the following year he received the prestiges F. Lammot Belin Scholarship for Artists, allowing him to finish his book of docu-poems from his observations and interviews while hitchhiking rural roads in his home N.E Pennsylvania “fracking” region during the height of Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. In 2018, Craig toured the Balkans, giving poetry readings in Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo through P.E.N. Albania, of which he was awarded Honorary Membership. In 2019, Craig was honored with the Alexander the Great Gold Medal for Letters & Arts through UNESCO/Piraeus on Salimina Island in Greece; and the Dafne Lifetime Achievement Award in Aulla, Italy. He is currently under lockdown in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His website – craigczury.com