Thursday, April 1, 2010


Both Amy and I finally handed in our completed projects last week. We are extremely excited about this! We are "defending" them on April 23rd, so after that happens I am likely going to post something about all of my experiences during this. This blog seemed to fall flat, but that's okay. If anyone out there wants to continue reading my poetry or Amy's, our personal blogs are linked. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Not a thesis poem

This is not a thesis poem. But you asked me to put it up.



I long to slather skin with scented oil,
To rub my fingers in your every
Concealed groove. Your shuffled mortal coil
Awakes my hunger...I'll nibble your knee,
I will engage your breast with seasoned skill
And warm your goose pimples. You must begin
To trust in me: for you I'll only thrill
If you submit to wise caresses. Sin
You shouldn't fear: I come to burn your heart,
To fire your little limbs. I need to stuff
You full with all myself...We will not part;
I'll be your master always. My sweet: tough
Will be your foe tonight. But, since I brined,
It's true: I know you are forever mine.

Justine Bienkowski

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"The Dowsing Rod" (the poem formerly known as "Lake House")

Just wanted to put this up for the sake of posterity.

The Dowsing Rod

Your face against my belly reminds me of childhood
and you say, That’s not something I want to equate with sex.

I laugh, thinking, Who else do your fingers touch,
does your tongue get caught in, if not the schoolyard girl

who doesn’t know to cry when pushed down at recess?
You are pressing against the daughter (mother’s spine,

mother’s throat); thumb tracing the brow of a widow
in late age; heat passed into a woman with child

pulsing against the breast. Part of me is already dust,
only the rough shape of memories bumping together

—which is what you pull between your teeth now.
This is the running motion that keeps a hand from holding on

to the arm of a brook, makes it difficult to mourn the site of drowning.
Though you are probably not the bank or the silt or the reeds,

I suddenly think I am the river; and in this dream I want
to know how water looks at itself without drying.

It might happen by becoming an ocean or lake,
the self roaming in self, lost amongst the weeds…

Yet even still water paces on secret legs in an empty house.
You have your travel and I have mine.

Suddenly the blanket shifts, and I wonder how long
we have been asleep. I did not feel your hands, now

fallen out of my hair. If only we lost this cleanly.
But your traces wander below my skin like a net cast out—

you forgot to haul it back in, left the long night filled
with the murmur of water rippling between strings.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Provincial Life

Inspired by your use of asterisks, I decided to write a poem using them, since for Prof M's class I had to write a "conversation" poem with a refrain.

A Provincial Life

The old house breathed slowly,
       (cracked in the ribs from a night
out drinking and a day spent
creaking painfully, aware
it breathed its last.
       (First, its head was chopped
off—a kind of lobotomy, you know—
       then brains scooped out and
belly distended in a sigh).
I hope the house knows that I will miss it,
       (especially the scaffolding).
I will remember your fall from glory
when no one else does.
It is a provincial life.
How are we so old and
so young
at the same time?
       (Am I not who I once was?
Am I not who I will be?
       I am, I am).
The dirt speaks of eons
       (I speak of a lifetime).
Can I channel Frost?
       (I, too, am a swinger of
       branches reaching down like
long fingers).
How old is anyone, anyway,
if all our atoms are just
It is a provincial life.
We set off, a pair of love birds,
off to see other love birds
       (my wings, however, were too
slick with oil
       to fly).
The Bride and Groom looked at each other,
and I, I looked at you
It is a provincial life.

Justine Bienkowski

Thursday, October 22, 2009



Were I not yours, do you believe
You would have indulged me? The trees
Seem to agree, waving their
Bracken arms above their heads; they’re
Sure I am just abandoned leaves.

I fear abandonment, conceive
Your boredom echoing clear, achieve
A quick heart. Would you think me fair
        Were I not yours?

Stretching and moaning, we the trees
Concede our doubt, our falling leaves
Will prove to you concern for tears
In bone and thought. Are we a pair?
        Were I not yours?

Justine Bienkowksi

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lake House (draft 2 or 3)

I've been trying to write more personal narratives and I'm so ready to run away from it. I feel like the ant and the kid that burns ants with a magnifying glass. I don't know whether this new approach to writing is terrible or even worth pursuing. I kind of hope it's not, because it's hard. Then again, that might be the only reason this is worth pursuing. P.S. This is written in couplets, though some of the lines are too long and fold over in this post.

Lake House

One time when your face hid against my belly you made me
think me of childhood. You said, That’s not something I want you

to associate with our sex. But I thought, When you touch me,
don’t you touch it all at once?—

the schoolyard girl that doesn’t know to cry when pushed
down on the gravel at recess. The ripe youth that opens

like a laugh, a spreading skirt (startle of the apple’s white skin
as a blade undresses crimson). Even the wife, the mother with child

pulsing against the breast—and, if I make it, the slow rot of old age.
No, you probably are not the banks or the silt or the reeds,

but suddenly I think I am the river.
And in this dream I want to know how water can look at itself

without drying up. Sometimes, by becoming an ocean or a lake.
But let me tell you something about water with no place to go:

it makes the same motion I do, pacing across floorboards in an empty house.
You have your travel and I have mine.

At the end of this, perhaps you will have found
something and I will have lost. Or maybe

I will gain your fingerprints under my skin, pile them up
in a heap that doesn’t sink or burn—all your traces trapping

me like a net thrown into water that no one remembered
to pull back in.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Remnants (draft 3 or something)

The Remnants

This is the body in bed that has always been the body in bed.
This is the restless animal of love.


Each time you bury your face in him, say,
I can’t stay until tomorrow. Soon, it becomes years of him
carrying you up steps, nose nestled in the crook of a neck,
his pulse on the far shore bumping against your lips.


Nights, we make the long prayer of love—
for fear of heaven, for fear of the body’s flight.


Remember when you were young and didn’t know
what the word men meant? You thought it was like
two gears grinding against each other,
the coat of grease smeared across your legs.


—Darling, I have heard your secret sounds repeated
in other mouths, but nobody, nobody makes your silence.


Now you say, I want to get this history out of my body,
say, Please let us leave this Pantheon of loss.
He tells you, This is the last time we are young before we die.
You say, We will never burn to the bottom of this wick.


We return to the days when gods were nothing to fight
against and wonder: What is this soft beast against the veins?


You were rough with your virginity, like it was a scrape
of the knee, or sudden afterthought. And now your mother
is saying, You dumb, fool girl. God gave us nothing
if He gave us only the power to say Yes.


She has wrapped up in her the thick cord of belief,
strong like a tendon, a fistful of hair.


This time on your knees you say, Mother,
fold me up again like a paper crane, put me in a pocket
on your body. I don’t want to walk these treacherous lands,
and if only my feet don’t touch the ground—


We have learned all the ways to love,
but no one once taught us how to stop.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ars Poetica


I spend my time threading needles,
Reluctant to put thread to cloth,
Dragging string through tender eyes
But abandoning each in the leaves of pages.

The weather’s eyes turn colder, now,
Misting my days with chilled rain
And darkened clouds. Thunderheads
Grace my vision, threatening to spill

Over, like cups overflowing, not just
Half empty or half full. Her shuffling feet
Crunch leaves beneath the breath of fall,
Sprinkling dead oak bodies into cement cracks.

I pick dead leaves up and thread them
On my needles, collecting dead thoughts
For holey sweaters. I leave my needles
On shelves and in cars: lingering, stagnant ideas.

I’ll write in the sky with my embroidery thread,
Signal my dreams to birds, try to knit sweaters
To keep fingers and pens warm. Blessed
Projects, lost in brain waves, lost to paper leaves.

Justine Bienkowski

Friday, October 2, 2009

"What Happens Regardless" (Draft 2)

Some beauty cannot help itself.
      Like the brewing storm that shakes
the house with both hands,
the clumsy mammoth strength that Lennie had—
accident cracking the lintel.
      Or the splendor of a girl’s face—
the one who sits in the heart of the boy you love:
so undeniable that it speeds your own pulse.
      As when my mother walks
through the rose garden,
noon lighting behind each petal.
The softness of her body hardens in old age,
bones erupt from their stations like children
restless from a long drive.
Someone asks her to move
so the light may better fall on the flowers.
     Later, she sees the pictures:
Cajun Moon, Maiden’s Blush, Princess of Wales.
Aren’t they beautiful, someone says.
And what can she say?
What can anyone do, trapped in the thinning
summer night, besides look hard at the veins
on every flower and admit:

"What Happens Regardless" (Draft 1)

Dear Justine,
I don't really need comments on this draft specifically--I just wanted to put up the first draft of this poem for the sake of posterity. If there are certain areas that you favor in this draft over the second draft, please let me know. Otherwise, this is just here to document the progression in revision. Also, this poem had not been titled when I wrote this draft, but I'm giving it the title that I gave my later draft.

In a hurricane the roof is first to go,
lifting up and away like a sudden bright idea,
tremulous moment of inspiration.
The wind has itched its way under the eaves,
And soon the mirrors will be sand in the air.
Still, the brewing
The storm cannot help its terrible beauty.
As when my mother walks through the rose garden,
The noon lighting behind each petal.
The softness of her body hardens in old age,
bones erupting from their stations like children
restless from a long drive.
Someone asks her to move so the light
may better fall on the roses, and she does.
Afterwards, my father shows her the pictures:
Cajun Moon, Maiden’s Blush, Princess of Wales.
Aren’t they beautiful, he asks.
And what can she say? What else can she do, besides
Look straight at each vein on the petals and say,
Yes, yes they are beautiful.