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January, 2008

Free Writing Resources!

Wasyl Szewczyk (Poem)

By  James Strecker

"Charlie Szewcyzk, the farmer Wasyl, died last April in his eightieth year."

This method I learned

from Charlie: After the meal

wash your bowl and spoon.

Let them dry on the counter

until you eat again.

Be patient.


He was a bachelor. In his seventh

decade they brought women, like

weather-beaten cattle, to the timid

man's home for him to take in

marriage. He rejected the sagging

Polish widows and their match-made

schemes for his land.


He left the house and garden in a

will. There was little else: four boxes

of novels describing sophisticated

bachelors and accessible blondes,

and a handful of age-ruined

photographs, the girl beautiful in 1921.

Had he loved her? He wanted to nod

his head yes, but couldn't. He left


an epithet, Charlie, a handy anglicized

substitute for the alien Wasyl.


We removed two kinds of shirts from

his room: white shirts covered with

cellophane, then dust (these should not

be spoiled too soon by common

labourer's use) and others laden with

sweat, odors of work eating the fibres.

He wasted nothing, not even his life.


Wasyl Szewczyk is dead,

Wasyl Szewczyk of Galicia,


A Ukrainian serf from a feudal age

who despised the priest and his

landowner's god. He had seen a

pregnant girl beaten by holy fists, had

fled to a dirty coal mining town, a

fourteen hour shift, and wept from

the pain of his burned, bandaged hands.


His fingers learned to play the clarinet,

cut hair with a barber's expertise, hold

a book of Shevchenko's poetry. He

was attuned, like spring, to the delicacy

of creation. At meals, he belched with

thanks, for bread and cream, a peasant.

He lies buried in Beausejour, Manitoba

where he once pastured cows, and his hair

was black as a rain-soaked prairie field.


Wasyl Szewczyk is dead.

There was little to say after him. We

lacked his wit, was it peasant or Slavic,

that taunted death as a nuisance and friend.

He knew the dead to be lucky.


What aspect knows the man?

He posed unsmiling for photographs.

He lived a long life, should have hated

the world. He wore a suit on Sundays.


Charlie Szewcyzk, the farmer

Wasyl, died last April in his

eightieth year. At seventy-five

he had learned to play

the violin.

Read James Strecker's INside story on poetry writing.

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© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049

IN This Issue
The Long Life Of Poetry
Marketplaces For Your Poetry
Haiku: Highest Art
What Am I Doing Wrong?
Lyrically Speaking
Writing Poems
The Mind Of A Poet
A Poem Is A Little Path
Seeing Like A Poet
Speaking In Tongues (Excerpt)

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Hottest Books This Month!

Whose Books Are Turning Into Movies?
Bald Ego
Mouse Over To Pause

Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

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