Three Poems by Matthew Borczon

Matt BorczonThe difference

Between
deployments
between
Afghanistan
and
Manhattan
between
war
and
pandemic
is
not
as
big
as
I
thought
it
would
be

just
different
dreams
filling
the
same
sad
nights
watching
an
old
man
speak
Russian
telling
his
daughter
goodbye
by
phone
before
he
dies
alone

over
and
over
behind
my
eyes

My wife

asks me
to take
our daughter
to Wednesday
morning mass

I laugh
and tell
my daughter
not to
stand too
close in
case God
is mad
because I
never went
to church
on deployment

my youngest
says but
daddy you
did pray
didn’t you

and I
don’t know
how to
tell her
I only
prayed
when somebody
died

so instead
I just
tell her
that I
prayed almost
every day.

I was

leaving
with the
Navy my
orders were
for 210
days so
we snuck
downstairs
to say
goodbye
and make
love one
more time
but both
dogs were
watching
and you
were afraid
we would
wake the
kids after
you said
you were
sorry it
was not
more wonderful

but this
is not
my first
deployment
so we
both already
know there
is nothing
wonderful
about goodbye

A Selection of Poems from Matthew Borczon

Beethoven’s blues

A black
snake crawls
from under
a rock
like a
slow blues
across a
desert night
while drunken
sailors lose
sight of
the north
star I
think about
how wolves
lead from
behind how
the blind
believe their
other senses
are heightened
it’s a prayer
for the dying
a wish
for the lost
it’s the lies
we tell
ourselves like
Beethoven must
have told
himself as
he wrote
music he
could only
imagine
people hearing

when the train
leaves the station
people only
ever see
the engine
or the caboose
but on the
cars in-between
life happens
rain falls
the earth
trembles as
stars drop
out of
the sky
into the ocean
where humpback
whales turn
them into
songs we
all imagine
but will
never get
to hear.

Thursday

Is a
West Virginia
coal mine
and morning
is a
rope tied
to a
big rock
black coffee
is a pump
shotgun and
work is
a moving
target as
I drive
on ice
with bald
tires wondering
how the world
will end
and will
I be there
to see
it and
does anything
really matter
more than
the road
to work
the weight
of the rock
or the
moments
between sun up
and sundown
I claim
as just
my own.

Deployment #1

I remember
watching the
planes unload
on television
long lines
of the
last soldiers
out of
Vietnam
the news
had interrupted
Saturday morning
cartoons and
I was
angry I
couldn’t watch
Under dog.

Deployment #2

I remember
my first
AT at
Bethesda
Naval hospital
I was jogging
with an
older corpsman
who told
me the
day they
called and
said he
was going
to Iraq
he sat
down on
a curb
and cried.

Deployment #3
I remember
the phone
call I
got at
work a
voice said
maybe
you had
better sit down.

Deployment #4
I remember
the long
lines of
sailors
and getting
three full
sea bags
of stuff
they said
I would
need when
I said
I don’t
even know
what half
this stuff
is they
laughed
and said
you will
need all
of it
anyway.

Deployment #5
I remember
the plane
landing
at night
we were
thrown together
as the plane
bumped down
the airfield
and I
felt like
a swimming
pool slowly
filling with
ice water
as I
realized I
was really
here no
more time
to wonder
of I
was ready
if I
could hack it
if I
was afraid
I was
here.

Deployment #6
Since the
war I
just remember
trying to
forget.

Matt Borczon

Three Poems from Matthew Borczon

My heart
 
Is a
bullet without
a gun
a rope
without
a tree
a knife
without
a sheath
it’s whiskey
without water
a dog
off its
leash
looking for
a porch
to sit
out the
rain.
My hands
 
Are birds
with burned
feathers
the devils
instrument
ten sausages
on a
vegan’s
breakfast plate
my hands
are a
spider catching
stink bugs
in its
web are
scissors
trying to
hold flowers
are grace
notes from
a smashed
violin
my hands
are skeleton
keys to
a door
I am
still looking
to open.
my eyes
 
are not
blue coyotes
not pools
of fresh
water in
Mexico
my eyes
don’t work
at night
they need
batteries
they dropped
what you
asked them
to hold
my eyes
lie in
church and
beg on
street corners
my eyes
ran away
from home
at sixteen
and have
been running
ever since.
 Bio: Matthew Borczon is a poet and writer from Erie, Pa. He has published ten books of poetry the most recent being Ghost Highway Blues through Alien Buddha press. He has been nominated for a pushcart and a best of the Net. He works as both a US Navy sailor and as a nurse for adults with developmental disabilities. He has a wife and four kids and not enough time to write.
Matt Borczon

2 Poems from Matthew Borczon

Stanley

My grandfather
used to
say that
when you
die you
are re-
incarnated
on another
planet and 
we used 
to laugh 
at this
idea until
years later
when I
read that
physicists
have the
same theory
provable by
math

and now
I think
that maybe
the universe
is not
so complicated
maybe all
you need
to understand
it is
two fingers
of bourbon
after a
third shift
at the
paper factory.

Chris

You were
drunk enough
to let
me drive
your car
and I
was drunk
enough to
try even
though I
didn’t have
a license
and we
zig -zagged
the dirt
roads around
Edinboro lake
that night
past the
summer cottages
like we
had nothing
to lose
or look
forward to

you were
an English
major who
would end
up working
in computer
sales with
Parkinson’s
writing songs
no one
would ever
sing and
I was an
Art major
who would
wrap the
stumps of
soldiers in
Afghanistan

but on
that night
we were
just two
drunk college
idiots who
didn’t care
if we
lived or
died back
before life
showed us
it didn’t
matter anyway.

cropped-photofunia-1541437529-9.jpg

Finding his calling by Matthew Borczon

Barry had really wanted to be a priest, but he only got as far as learning the sympathetic handshake. The one with two hands and a gentle pat on the back of your hand. Soon after he joined the seminary he fell in love with a local girl who worked in the coffee shop he went to before class. What she did to his fantasy life alone convinced him he was not cut out for the celibate life of a priest and he quit soon after. Barry seemed to fail at most everything he tried in life. Quit college after one semester when he realized he had no idea what he wanted to study. He told himself it was better than wasting his father’s money. Six months later and Barry was thrown out of his parent’s house when he would not get a job. Now at 23 he was finally figuring it all out. It started with a friend who offered him a place to stay while he looked for a place to live. All the friend wanted was for Barry to walk his dog for him while he was at class. Barry took the offer and found out that he got on well with dogs. They did not judge him or care that he didn’t want to go to school or get a full-time job. Barry realized that dogs were also easier than girls, show up be consistent and offer love and a dog responds, but girls find these same qualities often creepy if you are not classically handsome. Barry came to believe unrequited love was as hard to live with as it was to spell. Dogs offered easier terms to a guy like Barry.

Still, the dog thing was really working. His friend recommended Barry to a friend of his parents and Barry was soon walking their dogs daily as well. The money was OK and got better when Barry realized that people seem to love their dogs as much as they love their kids. He learned how to win over a dog quickly with treats and belly scratches and the owners appreciated that Barry was punctual and dependable. Over the next eight months he doubled his clientele three times. By the next year there was a waiting list to hire Barry. People would brag that they had the only professional dog sitter in the county working for them. Barry charged more to watch dogs than some people charged to watch kids and the people lined up to pay. Barry reinvested in his business by buying personalized shirts with pictures of his client’s dogs on them. He would wear them when he walked the dogs and people went crazy with the kind of joy that leads a dog owner to buy their pet a jacket that matched their own.

Barry had the money for his own place but was still living with his friend, he told him he wanted to go somewhere permanent once he moved and that he was one or two more clients away. The friend never complained as Barry still walked his dog daily and pretty much kept to himself. That summer one of his Richest clients hired Barry to watch their three pugs during the wedding of their daughter to a prominent local lawyer. The wedding was in Bar Harbor Main and they rented Barry a white van just to drive the dogs up there. Once he arrived he was put up in a nice hotel that accepted the pugs and Barry was even invited to the wedding. The bride wanted the dogs in the pictures, so they were included in the wedding party with Barry holding their leashes in all the pictures. The celebration lasted over a long week end and the family asked Barry to transport the presents along with the dogs in the van as he headed home. The parents were sending the kids away to the Bahamas for their honeymoon and wanted to stay in Bar Harbor a few extra days after. Barry of course said yes.

It was fifteen hours from Main to northwest Pennsylvania, so Barry had a lot of time to himself. On the dark highway past midnight he realized that he was still not interested in a college education and not really that excited about dog sitting or dogs for that matter, Barry started to wonder if this wasn’t the perfect situation, maybe this was the only real chance he was ever going to get to change his life. As a kid he had looked for the dare to be great opportunity all kids dream of but never found it. At 24 he had been thinking it was something he was supposed to make rather than find. It only took him a few hours to convince himself that he could do it. All he needed was a little courage and a little luck and he could be gone before they found him.

He made the contact with the family by email the next morning. He wanted 75,000 dollars or they would never see their precious dogs again. At first the family was confused but then got angry and reported Barry to the local police back in Erie, Pa. The police told them to calm down they doubted he meant it. Who would pay that kind of money for a dog? The family was offended and insisted on speaking to the police chief to communicate the seriousness of the crime. In the end the police agreed to investigate it, but a dog napping was a pretty low priority for them. Barry has been counting on this fact and hoped he would be safely across the Canadian border before they came looking for him. Barry sent a detailed email outlining how they were to transfer the money into a Canadian bank within two days or they would never see their pugs again. The family made several more calls to the police and reported their rental van and a few thousand dollars’ worth of wedding presents missing. They swore they would not pay Barry but changed their mind when they received an overnight package with the dead body of one of the pugs and a note saying they were running out of time. In the end they paid him 100,000 for the two remaining dogs. Barry raised the price when he had to kill the dog. He had not expected to have to get his hands dirty, but now that he had done it he knew it was something he would have to be prepared to do again when necessary. Barry left the other two dogs in a Pennsylvania motel with enough food and water for three days. The next day he withdrew all the money from the bank and headed to the farthest corner of Canada without incident.

Barry eventually settled in a small town and immediately started putting up flyers offering his services as a dog sitter. References available on request. Within a week he had three clients. Barry was pretty happy, the kind of happy you feel when you realize that you are actually good at something.

 

Bio: Matthew Borczon is a poet and writer from Erie, Pa. He has published ten books of poetry the most recent being Ghost Highway Blues through Alien Buddha press. He has been nominated for a pushcart and a best of the Net. He works as both a US Navy sailor and as a nurse for adults with developmental disabilities. He has a wife and four kids and not enough time to write.

Matt Borczon

Afghanistan 2010 by Matthew Borczon

I once spent the whole afternoon looking for the amputated leg of an English soldier. I searched the loading dock they wheeled him into the hospital from, I looked in the room we put his gear when he came in on the helicopter. I searched everywhere their lieutenant told me to, all the while thinking that he must know we burned it down at the fire pits with all the medical waste and other body parts. The soldier thought it would go home with him and the lieutenant didn’t know how to tell him it was already gone.

Bio: Matthew Borczon is a poet and writer from Erie, Pa. He has published ten books of poetry the most recent being Ghost Highway Blues through Alien Buddha press. He has been nominated for a pushcart and a best of the Net. He works as both a US Navy sailor and as a nurse for adults with developmental disabilities. He has a wife and four kids and not enough time to write.

Matt Borczon

Terry’s car by Matthew Borczon

Susan knew she had other options, knew she was pretty, whatever that meant. She also knew she was tired of being a second choice. This was something she learned the hard way first from the quarterback in high school who wrote her love poems but slept with her friend all because she wanted to be in real love before she gave her virginity away. Later she would gain a reputation as a tease all because she was still waiting for someone to make her feel like her life was worth more than most of her girlfriend’s small-town aspirations. Of the four girls she would call her real friends two of them were pregnant by junior year. At home she was warned against ruining her life but never given a road map on how not to.

Her parents knew she was smart the school told them that ever year after standardized tests. Still she was never encouraged to do anything with it. Her father didn’t see what use a girl could have with brains. No real jobs in this town for a woman anyway. Her mother just advised her to pick a boy you know you can control.

Susan was often angry and frustrated. That was until she met Terry. He was new to school in his senior year and seemed different than the other boys. He had dark hair and a thin razor figure. He read books that did not come from the library and drove a blue GTO that he had restored on his own. He did not play sports or come from money but still he was always in the center of whatever was happening in their school. He could have had any girl he wanted, and he had wanted Susan. Their first months were frantic and exciting feeling like an electric circuit. He gave her books to read and they drove to the city, over two hours away just to have something to do. He had a way of making her feel like everything they did was her idea, so when she slept with him she thought it was love, or the closest she had ever been to it. The first half of senior year was the kind of thing that gets a double page in the year book.

The first time he yelled at her she was angry that he would not come pick her up at the local mall. The weather was turning, and he wanted to get his car put up for the winter. Susan had never heard of this before. Most people just drove their car all year long and didn’t worry about it. Terry said he never drove after October. She wasn’t as mad as she was confused but after Terry screamed at her over it she was frightened by his anger. He spent the next few days apologizing and swearing it would never happen again. Susan convinced herself she just didn’t understand about the car, and it was not like he hit her or anything. Some of her friends had been through that already.

The winter seemed to make Terry restless. They still saw each other but there was no car to get away from school and the small town they lived in. Bowling and screwing around in her parent’s basement wasn’t the life Terry was used to. By January there were signs he was getting bored. A girlfriend said he was texting another girl in their class, she was younger and had a reputation as a partier and for sleeping with anyone who could get her beer. She asked him about it and he just laughed it off saying it was her trying to get in touch with him.

That May he got his car back on the road and this seemed to bring him back to life, so Susan was optimistic about summer. He broke up with her shortly after that. He did it  by putting a note in her locker. When she confronted him at lunch he screamed at her in front of the whole class, “look! Let me break in down for you, it’s Terry, Terr’s car, then maybe you!! The room fell silent like when somebody laughs in church. Everyone was looking at her and Susan felt her face get hot. She decided to walk away slow, deliberate. She knew everyone was talking as she left, and she just kept on going right out the door. The school called her family and told them she ditched school. She was grounded but it hardly mattered.

That night she went out to the creek where she knew Terry would be partying with his friends. She waited until well after midnight before she took a baseball bat to his headlights, his windshield and side windows. It felt good but not as good as pouring the bottle of grain alcohol she was drinking all over the upholstery and dropping a lit cigarette inside. She saw it was still burning as she reached the highway. As she started walking Susan realized she wasn’t mad at Terry, or the girl, or her parents. It was really only her, no one gives you a map through life or out of a small town. No one promises you happiness or opportunity, no one promises you anything.

 Susan realized she was tired of waiting for someone or something to come along and change her life. She decided it was time to do that all by herself. She threw the bat up on her shoulder and stuck out her thumb, and when a guy stopped to pick her up he asked her what was up with the baseball bat. She smiled at him, a little drunk and said there is a story to this bat, how far are you going?

 Bio: Matthew Borczon is a poet and writer from Erie, Pa. He has published ten books of poetry the most recent being Ghost Highway Blues through Alien Buddha press. He has been nominated for a pushcart and a best of the Net. He works as both a US Navy sailor and as a nurse for adults with developmental disabilities. He has a wife and four kids and not enough time to write.

Matt Borczon