Steven Ostrowski – Four Poems


Post is Pre

Pacing windows, I keep passing
                        through your lacy spirit.

I feel restless as an atom.

Nostalgia orbits my spacy head. 


Out there, evening light seesaws
                        on the stream.
If you were here, we could stroll down
            let its music
                        loll our heads.


You should be here.

(I’m as selfish as a new lover;
as selfish as ever.)

You should be here.


When we were young, we couldn’t dream 
in diamonds,
couldn’t reserve a three-course table
            where I might secretly thrill
            to your blue-eyed sighs
            yet night after night
                        your fingers brushed my lips to bed.


And here we are, years gone to years
            and I have more than enough
            and yet it’s another dusk
                        I need you in.
Need your mouth to say
                        love, what matters?
            Need your eyes
                        to flash before my life.


Bouquets of Mothers

Bouquets of mothers spring up everywhere! They flower in postage stamp gardens, bloom deep in the unreachable hedge, grow urgent out of suburban beds and country kitchens. They burst open in banks and bars. “Mother, mother” children cry from their backyard chains, bewildered with love and need while men shiver with nervous lust and milky fear; some run, none get away. O, all the mothers are flowers now, flowers in the hallways of hotels and museums, flowers fallen from Easter bonnets, flowers too sweet to be real, pure white flowers the moon paints blue through the open bedroom window, flowers we never notice smothered in the weeds of highway fields, rudely deflowered flowers, barely-touched flowers, enigmatically delicate flowers, flowers all flesh and aching, flowers that make the hushed sound of a prayer when the wind blows through them, the feminine feather feel of dream kisses.

Yes, in spring the mothers bloom along the avenues and fill the air with the perfume of milk and longing, so much longing, for no one’s been born who doesn’t seek a flower.



In this photo, his young bride’s eyes
are depths of faith. Days to come
spark in them like sunrise on water.

In this one, near a Christmas tree,
he cradles his daughter’s infant delicacy
in arms firm as cables.

In this one, a president shakes his hand,
and here, he shyly holds an award
for making the world a little more fair.

The one he stares at longest, though,
he isn’t even in. His wife and teen daughter
stand in a spring garden. They wear

yellow dresses and their eyes shine with Easter.


This is How We’ll Change the World

The amaze of your backlit sleep, angel haze and rain blown in from the bed.

I wish I could flow over, night deep, as in Chagall, and be as strange as I am
but somehow beautiful, too, a human surprise to you. And you’d breathe up

a star and lift a diamond to me with your tongue, laughing in your grace chord
voice like a song with three foreign words necklaced across your breast.

Arms raised, fingers spread wide, we’d give up ghost-notions of who’s below
and who’s above, grow open-hearted and stand silk naked in the astonish.

Burning into pure selves, we’d turn like children in a dizzy yard, Jesus-eye
generous, sixth-sense serious, wisdom-kissed and full-throat hilarious.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

As long as we are at least partly receptive, when we encounter genuine beauty, in any of its forms, its power temporarily overrides our default consciousness (which is often only a rote semi-consciousness) and, for a period of time that feels halted, it reconfigures our perceptions, our emotions, our points of view, our intellect. It is as if some of the atoms of a beautiful form enter us and some of ours enter it in a transaction that creates a most personal, intimate experience.  


 Steven Ostrowski is a poet, fiction writer and songwriter. His work appears widely in literary journals, including The American Journal of Poetry, Wisconsin Review and Raritan. He is the author of three published chapbooks–two of poems and one of stories. A fourth chapbook, a poetry collaboration written with his son Benjamin Ostrowski, will be published in 2017 by Cervena Barva Press. He teaches at Central Connecticut State University.