Leonard Kress: The Centralia Mine Fire

Copyright © 1987 by Leonard Kress

For permission to reprint contact the author at leonard_kress@owens.edu.

The Centralia Mine Fire
Ruthenian Festival in Mahanoy City
Bootleg Coal
Kreutzer Sonata
Rehearsing The Flying Dutchman
Rittenhouse Square
The Frankford El I
The Frankford El II
Harrowgate Summer Evening
Harrowgate's Daughter
Rowers on the Schuylkill
Forbidden Mass, Kraków
Visit to the Polish Writers' Union
Kawiamia, Kraków

The Centralia Mine Fire
Drive north from the city two hours,
past the appropriate ridges and through
the obligatory tunnel that cowers
under the mountain. Hawks that flew
solicitously near the roadside mowers
return to their own named peak to view
without judgment your entrance. Ask the powers
of light and shadow to reveal the blue onion bulbs of the true
Ruthenian Church amid wildflowers
and steep vetch. Wind back as if you knew
by heart Cyrillic names of miners -- sowers
of canonized fern and weed, and renew
the threefold Byzantine Rite, as summer showers
stream down and a yellow halo of mist to surround
the town rises slowly from the burning ground.

The town rises slowly from the burning ground.
Watch the vacant homes, unsellable now,
freshly blanched with strips of siding, the crowned
churches, their Babel of tribal Masses below the show
of sunlight on gold and copper; and the sky, split
by brittle steeples. It is little grown
from the company town -- patchwork village by the pit
with omnipresent monument, the Breaker, flown
like a buttress against the black mountain --
this the shrine of the Holy Order of Anthracite.
Though odors of bottom damp and methane
no longer reek into the streets and ignite,
the underground tunnels burn, and each vein
of coal, potential fuse, leads to another domain.

Ruthenian Festival in Mahanoy City
It begins around the 4th of July,
you can smell the bleenies as you drive
past the Tamaqua Coal Breaker, where trees
and brush grown awry begin to patch up
the damage done to the hills, where you meet

head-on, vast troughs of lard set
on two-by-fours, tented, hoarding the cross streets.
By the Feast of the Assumption it all fires
to a feverish pitch (townspeople lined
for tickets, more pushy, prayerful,

beseeching than for the state's pick-six lottery.)
As novice priests don canvas aprons,
quick to be tainted by sizzling grease,
and (Ecce Homo!) they serve them up
in stacks of three, these wafers so rich

and life sustaining, only a Byzantine
god, forgetting his grief, could have divulged
the exact mix of ingredients. Though a certain nun,
peeling potatoes at devotions

claims the recipe is there to be heard:
When voices blend in polyphonic hymns
and the Mother of God takes the sweetest part.
We have a saying in Old Church Slavonic --
Preparing for a Feast Day is the highest Art.

Bootleg Coal
Deep into the side of the mountain
we tunnel down, timbering the shaft
as we go. And when we hit the slick
black vein that straddles, upside down,
the town of Ashland, and masses up
in the convoluted bulk of Buck Mountain,
we let down the gallon pail
and rob a tiny bit of anthracite
from the hundred mile hidden spread
of the Philadelphia Coal and Coke Company,
sole owner of every foot of ground we walk on.

We are not the only ones. Holes proliferate
like minefire. The hill is covered with a pox
the company men are helpless against.
(We are all company men), brazen enough
to hitch a mule to a junk car,
weotug it uphill, park over the hole.
lacked up, the winding driveshaft
pulls up the laden bucket, while the lookout
sits inside in comfort. The old Pocono hills,
vacation land to the rest of the world,
give us back a little, what everyone else takes.

The day Christ rose from the dead
I drove upstate to the anthracite hills
out past Minersville, Coaldale, Slabtown,
till I spotted the golden cupolas
of the Lemko Church in Shenandoah:
blinding nuggets pressed from the carbon landscape,
rising atop homes and churches
of another ridge town, diminishing
and lungblack, scrubbed immaculate.

Over millennially blazing coal pits I drove,
through granulated hillsides,
by ruddy creekbeds, steaming rivulets
of the hidden Schuylkill,
vales of choking men
and a miner's bestiary: Bull-
dozers, Yellow Scoops, Longnecked Cranes,
Graders, Backloaders, Hoppers,
silenced by this day of denial,
I drive through the underworld out of which
a fossilized Christ so often rises.

And searching for the golden domes of the Lemko Church
and its icons -- yearning-eyed, idolatrous, and maternal,
I wended my way through the town's attempts at purgation:
taprooms, luncheonettes, bingo halls, polka dances,
which He, though not one to give faint praise or join in,
surely must have smiled at, secretly, amid the solemn Mass,
amid the uttered sighs of his leisurely stroll past:
Friday's suffering all but forgotten,
the taste of coal dust
barely a tickle now in His throat.

Kreutzer Sonata

for Tolstoy
You are right, Lev Nikolayovitch;
that's the sad part of it,
sad from the very beginning.
Even as a melancholy roustabout
soldiering through the Caucasus.
Mare's milk may cure some bodily ills,
but what of that chronic disease
of untransubstantiated flesh,
which craves a vodka's nurture
or the flagellant's soothing caress?

Are the tiny notated moments --
scything through a field of rye,
cuddling children on the stove-shelf
of a peasant hut -- worth it all?
Interminable train rides, coughed up
secrets, moment's calm before
an old love makes thirst
unquenchable, only to be right
again and again, bearded and bast-sandaled
venerable and cranky.
Yes there is death and resurrection.
Yes there is change and constancy,
the gamut of gossip and gospel,
ask any old, deaf, fiddler.

Rehearsing The Flying Dutchman
The Maestro struts on stage in tight
black pants, he tips the hardware store
stool he's settled on, the score
of ocean pitches forth the night.

And helmsman, sailors, and their girls
carouse (right after lunch) and laugh
at sturm und klipp welling from staff
and line. The Maestro rashly hurls

himself into a sea that Wagner'd
have us drown in. But with a gasp
he stills the waves enough to grasp
another ship, upstage, anchored

to gloom and death and lost salvation.
He calls the whole thing off. Too slow,
he shouts, for this diminuendo.
The deathship that destroys elation.

Take five. We don't know why you're cursed,
doleful Dutchman, we've come mid-act
like you -- why nothing will distract
you from your role, too well rehearsed.

The Maestro's from Milan my box --
mates claim. The chorus finds his silly
faces charming. I think, South Philly,
catching his fingers pat the buttocks

Brushing by of lovely red-haired
Senta, whose faithful love alone
can lift the Dutchman's curse. Viols groan
regaining tune. We're unprepared

when her soprano surges to
a crest. The shock waves ripple and rake
the grand Academy, they shipwreck
the free-floating qualm that urges to

deny, deny, that we are saved,
like rescued sailors hauled to port.
I join musicians, bobbing apart,
they leave their watch, no more enslaved

to score, baton, or measured phrase
as Senta, warding off a cold,
halts her aria to unfold
a handkerchief, and so delays

this afternoon's one last refrain.
Whatever chance there was to lift
some curse now sinks or goes adrift
as horns' and woodwinds' waters drain.

Rittenhouse Square
Almost twenty years since my girlfriend's sister
ran off, we had to wade through a pre-dawn
spate of bodies -- fringe, leather, and sweat,
Hindu oils and acrid smoke, to ask
an ex-high school math teacher peddling
LSD, and then young runaway hillbillies,
Irish factory girls, and blacks whose
astrological signs served as names
for news of her -- cribbed-in, as we were
between highrises, the Art Alliance, Ethical
Society, Curtis Institute, funnelling breezes
into the crowded square, backdropped as if
by a huge wraparound poster
an artist of the times might have conceived.

Tonight, in the center of the square,
where in weeks a bandshell might rise,
I recognize a man I've seen a thousand
times on comers, squares, every block
party, celebration, museum terrace,
free concert, I've wandered through these twenty years.
He hasn't changed since I first spotted him --
picked out among the celebrants as not
one of the fleeting participants of the city's mysteries.
He limped, one leg shorter, and wobbled recklessly,
bulk threatening to topple even when he sat
on some bench or townhouse stoop, forever silent,
agape mouth like a text, divined, awaiting
codification: He looked lost in those
familiar places, having lost even
the reasoned sadness that released him, set
him free to scour the city. He noticed me,
I'm sure, each time. I thought him middle-aged,
though he'd transformed so little in those two decades,
I'm no longer sure he is not the reflection
of myself, caught obliquely in shop windows,
projected -- after some original astonished
glimpse of him -- out of some initial fear
that he saw me as tortured and alone
as I saw him -- or worse, that passersby,
so breezy in their elevation and style,
brushed by interchanging us in view.

Now, as dusk hardens into night,
he stands in the thinned-out park, not one of the
innumerable saviors of the universe I first
thought him to be, unpropped by the empty fish
pond and police hut. When he turns his head to face me
his whole doughy body follows, split-
second behind, and with a gentle wave
motion, before averting his eyes in a manner
I'd be forced to call coy, had he been
one of those student cellists who passed by earlier,
stirred-up, soul less burdened after a Bartok
recital -- he begins to walk.in circles,
his short leg leading him to spiral in,
in circles concentrically smaller.

I remembered that summer at the Jersey shore,
just after my girlfriend's sister ran off
and my girlfriend forgot who she truly was.
I stood on the beach with friends waiting for the moon
to slip into the night's pocket -- after
a day fighting breakers, stenches of burning
flesh, scattered parts of Leviathan
chopped-up and strewn across the beach, the feast
in which I could not take part: I too began
to wander in circles, slowed down eddy of whirlpool,
convinced, as I paced, each step, inches smaller
and angled in, that as my circle closed
upon itself more tightly and I approached
the sacred and hidden epicenter
into which all life resolved
I would no longer be visible.

The Frankford El I
Though it saddens me and causes great shame
to walk beneath the Frankford El,
I do it often now, as I did ten years ago.

And I am still an easy mark
for pigeons roosting in the bolted crevices
of the El structure, squat as the wives

of new Russian merchants blocking doorways
to fruit stands or hoagie shops, although they,
of course, are not a cause of my shame.

I remember when I first entered the canopy
of the El structure, not caring
about the subway train, here above ground and always

moving on. I sat, that first day, on the concrete
stoop of the Fidelity Bank
and spread notebooks and sacred texts

around me. I was writing a saga
called Fishtown, a piece that lacked,
unlike the El, the spiritual underpinning

capable of supporting and transporting
the living. It was then the pea-green slime
dropped on my head. In my innocence

I suspected not the doves, but the sloppy,
scaffolded painters coating the girders
that straddled Kensington Avenue. And I was outraged

that no one paid attention
when either nature or the working class
dumped on me. Although I have since

learned the difference between pigeon shit and paint,
there is always something new from the same vatic source
waiting to defeat us when we feel most sure.

Like Mrs. Sophia, the cardreader, rocking
behind her picture window, or the parading
school girls from Frankford High

or Little Flower -- named for the more delicate
Teresa, so meek and humble, whose ecstasy
never came; not from heaven, not from me.

The Frankford El II

Between the Allegheny and Tioga stops
of the Frankford Elevated Train,
a miniature mock-Georgian mansion
sits on the third story
of tarpaper and sloping asphalt fields
of unoccupied rowhouses.
The owner is never to be seen
in his split-second passage across the window,
though what little we know of mankind
shows that he raises doves or even chickens

and knows nothing of the silvery train
that rattles his coops, cracks his eggs,
and at ten minute intervals, slithers by,
attempting to shake him from his nest.
The view into the city draws us more
than the view out. Downtown riders cram the right
side, home the left. Even third floor apartment dwellers
on the west side of the tracks add to the imbalance:
spraypainted messages, flags, curtainless windows
with waving hags, propped-open exhaust ducts.
For the east is something other; past the cluster
of sandblasted churches, past refineries, docks, drawbridged
river; past reclaimed Jersey swamp, lie pine barrens,
gambling casinos, an ocean of adolescent summers,
wholly other than the city to the west;
whose alleys made labyrinthine by row homes
are brushed by the windows -- this view the child
longs for, so small, so long denied
the tops of things.
To understand the city
an archeologist would have to dig
up, through the layers of cheesy air
to find the coppery drainpipes, the not-yet-looted
shards, still intact, impossible to decipher
from the street, barely readable between stops,
the signs that have never changed. De-coding them
he'd find a different city reconstructing itself:
lush union halls, starry-eyed ballrooms, giant milkbottles,
pony stables -- place-named fish-town, fair-mountain,
hunting-downs, harrowed-gate. An archeologist,
a traveller, an artist, would have to dig upwards,
pass through the turnstyle and ride endlessly the El,
to realize how little
an angel or other functioning deity
knows of life in the city.

Harrowgate Summer Evening
Next block a man bullhorns his Rosaries,
Hail Mary, full of grace crackles through
the alleyway. Drenched in their own sweet dew
the neighbors sit on stoops, await the breeze
that never stirs. And from the boarded store,
huge boxes blare Break on through, as shirtless
boys exchanging taunts without success
slurp, then stack by the gutter cans of beer.
The boredom grows more great along the block.
The toxic stench from Bridesburg incinerates
the air, now fully marbleized from pig stock-
yards. A child's punished cry lacerates
the frail gardenia stem my wife just potted.
Before I sleep I hear Pray for the Brokenhearted.

Harrowgate's Daughter
In Harrowgate tonight
I passed a bunch of kids
hanging on the steps
to the chocolate factory.
A girl's leg was dangling
from the concrete steps
and as I neared the place
the kids all squirmed about
and tucked it underneath
their own and sat unusually
still and quiet for this
uncooled weekend night.

A car pulled up, a woman
asked about her daughter.
-- How should we know, they say
collectively, and fidget
like some nervous bride
out of Lo Sposo Deluso,
new to the act of deception.
-- What's that? the woman sparks
catching a gleaming toenail
the audience knows is there.
But she, unschooled in farce,
does not leave her car
to lift the tablecloth
or fling the arras back.
-- Oh, that's not your daughter,
they say, sure she's fooled,
-- it's just her best friend Donna
sleeping off a drunk.
The woman drives away.

They know what all kids know,
that cunning masters force,
they've learned the rules of farce
from the cynic hanging on the corner
who laughs himself to death,
and when the street is clear
they reconstruct their plan
to drag her by the legs
behind the pizza parlor.
Only when her head
flops from step to step
and bruises paint her thigh
I order them to stop.

For she is just the age
of a medieval bride,
her sodden hair a spill
of knotted wilting jonquils
splayed across the sidewalk.
Her stomach is atwitch
though the rest of her
lies all motionless
and won't be roused by touching
sweet-talk and promises
her girlfriends sing and coo
into her jeweled ear.

The ruse is incomplete
but still the kids relax,
they think the girl will live
although they scatter up
and down the unlit street
into yard and alley
peeking out from bin
and dumpster, silent, shy
when the ambulance pulls up.

Left alone the medic bends
above the body, his fingers
playing up and down
the fretboard of her spine --
like Rigoletto presented
with the floppy sack
into which he thinks
his enemy is stuffed --
the neighbors all seem pleased,
exchanging nod and smile,
until the mother rounds
the block, escapes her car
left gunning in the street,
and dropping to her knees
just like the hunchback jester
out for his fool's revenge,
recalls some small prophecy
about this flesh and blood
halfheard and overlooked.

Rowers on the Schuylkill
Let us be early Medieval of late Renaissance,
spike-featured Norman Christ
or bone-faced Dureresque peasant,
skeleton staining the flesh.

let us descend the granite steps
and gather at the river's edge
for today is an Eakin's day on the Schuylkill:
boat races, festive crowds, spontaneous celebration.
See the strong young men lift their sculls
from the racks and carry them overhead
like slender polished beetles
to the murky and opaque waterway.
See the girls sleek and oiled cheer them on,
the losers as well as the winners.
See the geese that summer and winter here
spring up over the island. See them sport
with one another in raucous feathery
gaggles and announce to the daily horde
the absence of human frailty.

For all seems well under the cutting sun:
Joan of Arc is heroically bronzed
though even she cannot halt traffic along the drive,
and Mad Anthony Wayne rears on his horse
with the famed golden testicles.
How miraculous we seem to ourselves on this fair mountain
as cyclists weave round us, in and out
of joggers and strawberry mansions.

There is more: deep in the earth
an orchestra plays something lush,
romantic, called back and tempered
by the limping Hungarian.
There on the bank I see
an old Black man --
fishing for catfish -- stepped from a genre painting.

But remember we have come to watch the boat races --
the crews in their sculls on the Schuylkill
2-man, 4-man, 8-man and coxswain,
barking his rubbery lips, stretched
over a frighteningly oracular beak:
Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!
and the coach puttering around
effortlessly in his motor boat,
looping lazy figure-eights about them
as they rain sweat, snap ligaments, and groan.
But this is only practice,
the race is soon to run.
Only then will these young oarsmen show
an old and tired Charon the ropes --
how to run his ferry faster
on this one of many rivers,
stroke by stroke by stroke.

I've waited so long for this, said Zosia,
at midnight I checked my drearnbook, my sennik,
and what it said of rushing waters was true --
more suffering and tragedy. The river
beneath the street rose up, it flooded
the intersection up to the stopsign,
it carried me all ten blocks to church.
So many people were waiting outside.

Czerw the kielbasa maker, the red coat lady,
the German forelady from the mill, my daughter
in her first communion dress all lace
and beads and sequins, seven yards of material
at least, even the Archbishop wearing his miter.
But they wouldn't let me enter the church,
like the time Ukrainian policemen
and their German bosses blocked the doorway

to my cousin's hut. This is also explained
by the sennik -- no answer will be found.
My insides ached all night, that's nothing new,
my daughter dead, one of my sons in jail,
my father living in a shed, he writes
another harvest will fail, my husband, what
can be said of him, he'd have me starve
or freeze to death and still he steals my food.

When I was married the whole village came
for one whole week. Grass still does not cover
the patch of ground out back where couples danced.
It was the first wedding after the war.
The night before my vows I dreamt of water.
My mother only laughed and tied the wedding cap
more tightly. My brother clubbed the pig to death
and slit its gut, scalded it with water.

I don't believe in dreams. When I planted
some myrtle by the grave of my daughter
to remind her of her difficult task ahead
in Purgatory, the monk scolded me.
I think he took the steamed barley I left,
or last week's rain washed it away.
In my dream she cried from hunger or thirst.
I don't need my sennik to tell me that.

I think of wandering through Poland,
walking into the fields,
sidestepping elaborate swirls of cowshit,
eating tiny strawberries
I bought from an old peasant woman.
She overcharged me -- knowing there are things
for which I would pay any price.

I wanted to buy beads for Teresa.
An old man had dozens
dangling from the top of his stall.
I thought of Reymont's novel,
when, in the Jew's marketplace,
old and proud Boryna meets
young and beautiful Jagna,
and buys her love for a string of beads,
a few acres of land.

Later they marry and she betrays him,
making bloody love to his son
behind the desperate and beautiful haystacks.
Teresa would not understand --
fathomable smile, shallowness breeding pain.

That was in Przemysl,
where I walked along the San River
through endlessly plowed fields.
I watched a man in white robes
holding a net on the end of a long pole
by a sewer that let blood from the slaughterhouse
to the river -- fishing out chunks of lard.

Afterwards I sat by the cows
and thought about war and love.
You can't have one without the other, I realized,
picturing the old woman with whom I was staying.
That night she enacted the fearful pantomime
of her. brother's death, handcuffed and shot
against a brick wall in the town square.
Hitler's armies on one side
of the river, Stalin's on the other.

I think of wandering through Poland.
A pigtailed girl leads the cows home.
An old man from a neighboring village
fiddles in the marketplace.
Men pass the day
rooted in front of the roadhouse,
drinking warm beer, gazing
at the cheekworn mountains.

Later I lie on the dusty riverbank
watching smoke from the peasant bonfires
echo through the hills, blanketing the evening,
knowing I could kill for love.

Forbidden Mass, Kraków
The fanfare from St. Mary's towering crown,
cut short for the thirty-thousandth time this year.
Long since the Tartars, shot the trumpeter down.
At five p.m. the riot police appear.
Inside the church homeless women shiver,
and workers' mangled knees whap the marble floor.
Sermons that the priest may not deliver
keep them lining up, coming back for more.
When I am stopped the policemen are polite,
visors raised, billy clubs encased. In pairs
they stand or stroll, one fiddles with his flashlight.
They might be shopgirls admitting their own affairs,
arm in arm, voices shrill, full of their own
importance. Turpitude on loan.

Visit to the Polish Writers' Union
Be suspicious, I'm forewarned by the young poet,
of any writer who's managed to live here so long.
Since the fifties thaw, he means, on the first floor
no less, while he awaits eviction
from a fifth-floor walkup under a leaky roof.

Don't be fooled by his work with the Partisans,
his Home Army commission during an earlier occupation,
when he was barely as old as the young poet
is now. He can't be counted on, which is,
I'm instructed, different from being trusted.

But the old poet, son of a village organist,
looks like a hawk stripped of its urge
to prey. Gracious as an old bowtied hotel waiter.

Every word, gesture, thing, in this part of Europe,
chides the young poet, is political,
pointing out the precious gap, cloying and boisterous,
between my words, almost and free,
dangerous, unbridgeable, into which
one's friends might one day disappear.

What right have I to rummage through the past?
writes the young poet. He believes, he tells me,
only the language of bargehands, words to deliver
the tangible smuttiness of coal, flirt
with the young panienki selling trinkets below
Wawel Castle -- language that won't give
itself to any other abusive master.

And the old poet who emerged almost intact
from the failure of civilization with his friends
to become hopeful children in a new order.
Teach us how to live, they pleaded, step by step,
from the very beginning, how to eat,
how to build, how to love, how to write.

His poems, however, always whisk him back
to the harvest: Mother with an apron
full of feathers, where cows thrash about
in the sagging barn, and men shout
across fields grey with flax and rye.
Where everyone's invited to the wedding,
and only mouldering haystacks at night
watch and comment upon your nightmare cry.

I am helpless here. Lightheaded, inflamed.
After the requisite vodka, toasts,
and handkissing, we manage a slow descent.
Halfway down the well goes black.
Fearful of our steps, forgetting how to count,
my wife runs her fingertips along the walls,
searching like a censor for irregularities
in the crackling plaster. instead of a light switch
a doorbell is pressed. Some beleaguered poet
or his widow, charlady or porter,
is roused halfway to dawn. Like prankish children
we flee. A flutter of suspicion, accusation
rises up to the mouldy vault, its short sleep
abandoned -- for a more familiar perch.

Kawiarnial Kraków
Bluster of cold. The city's fortress walls
show ice in bleeding cracks and I'm alone,
though streets and cellar shops have teemed all day
with wildly gesticulating vendors. And everyone, it seems,
has something dear to sell -- radishes
and brooms, amber strands and ration clips.
Ideas. Complaints. Vestiges of fate.

And it is quiet here -- battering ram walls,
blanketed doors and racks of smoke
bulging to the ceiling's stuccoed vaults.
Two men I always see debate pre-war
disputes. A father late from work
works to charm his moping woolen daughter,
who tugs her braid and dabs it in some cake.

So I am free in here, where no one looks askance.
Everyone, it seems, wants to have
the same. Until they come -- the city's
deaf and mute contingent, silent mass
herding itself inside. Only a Gypsy
band, packed across the threshold of a restaurant,
can cause a greater stir, though the city's
Gypsies, dark with the grimy swagger of restraint,
know how to stir the soul. And these others,
who wear the leather boots, painted curls,
sheepskin vests, and oriental scarves,
fashions that identify the modern
youthful Pole, they are more than different.

They raise in me flutters of unease.
Their mimes are too extravagant -- simple
points entail the beating of a breast.
Grunts and snorts sound too much like the words
approximate. I know at once
who loves whom and who despairs of it,
who has funds and who must turn to beg.

Everything is clear, complex and full
of hurt that is adult, impossible
to soothe, although the gestures and the groans
bespeak an infant's needs. How little that I say
is necessary. How much less I try.

A woman enters, tall and grand, young
enough to know her looks will get her what
she wants. She will, I'm sure, walk out
at once, into another world, where beauty
strives to stay unmaimed. She will, at least,
have her cup across the street, away
from these, wholly content in their otherness.

Who barely know or care I'm here, inches
away, coffee gone, frantic markings
that scar the page. I stop to gaze at her --
beauty that stands her utterly apart --
while she, true to form, stares up and past,
ignoring my glance, and seats herself nearby.

A feeble cry, a bold decisive forearm
swat, she grapples with the smoky air,
hails her tribe, affirms their wordless rampart.

About the Author:

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Leonard Kress grew up in and around Philadelphia. He has a B.A. in Religious Studies from Temple University and an M.A. from the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He has also studied Slavics at Indiana University and Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Kress has received grants from the Pennsylvannia Council on the Arts Literature Fellowship and from the Polish Ministry of Higher Education and Kosciuszko Foundation -- to Krakow, Poland. He is currently a Masters of Fine Arts Candidate at Columbia University and teaches writing at Temple.


Grateful acknowledgement is made to the editors of the following publications in which these poems first appeared.

14th Street Review: "Frankford El II"
Painted Bride Quarterly: "Frankford El I"
Pavement: "Tryst"
Poetry Review of the Poetry Society of America: "Ruthenian Festival in Mahanoy City," "Upstate," "Kreutzer Sonata"
Quarterly West: "Sennik"
Round Table: "The Kreutzer Review"
The Philadelphia Paper: "Rowers on the Schuylkill"
Tacks: "In the Village of Istebna"
West Branch: "The Centralia Mine Fire," "Bootleg Coal"
1985 Anthology of Poetry and Magazine Verse: "Bootleg Coal"
Anthology of Polish-American Poets: "Tryst," "In the Village of Istebna"

The text of The Centralia Mine Fire was set in Trump Medieval and printed by Ed Caldwell in Chico, California. Cover design by Elizabeth Renfro. Cover illustration by Mary Dajnak.

ISBN 0-9613984-3-4

Flume Press 644 Citrus Avenue, Chico, California 95926

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