September 13, 2017

Four Poems by Denny Kolakowski: "Back Bay," April Buffalo," "Mantra," and "October"

Denny Kolakowski has had short stories, essays and poetry published in numerous outdoor magazines, literary journals, and periodicals throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Writing throughout the past ten years has included screenplays currently in pre-production and development. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association and a mechanical engineering graduate of Pennsylvania State University, serving as operations manager for the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the University of Pittsburgh Applied Research Center and the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office. Please see

Back Bay

The ocean has its salt
and say
while some of us cling
to the back bays.

I’ve been too practical,
too careful
to step into muck,
to touch floating algae,
to inhale the sun
simmering over stagnant pools
of skunk cabbage.

The love of my life
where I retreat
like a washed up clam.

Maybe today will be my day
to dance upon the lily pads
even with snapping turtles
chewing at the edges.

maybe we will both
rise from our marsh
like great blue herons
and wing back
to the heart
of the sea.

April Buffalo

Buffalo Creek explodes April
with the power to make you ask yourself,
Is this now?

Trout hug the bottom
at transcendental depth,
water skippers disappear,
kayaks rest on roof racks.
Moss tears from rock
and drunken limbs dive reckless
over crayfish that hunker down
under granite garden.
Fly rods sleep,
Stepping stones drown,
Mallards scan the shore line
and kazoo in protest.

All is contagious here
along streams that make thunder
out of midnight rain,
Delivering me
to shake hands with the invisible
and kiss
all that is unknown.


When my dad got dementia
I started grinding my teeth
and clinching my jaw
all the time
until my face got numb,
then he died.

How can anyone live without
Post-It notes?
People like that are too smart
to know anything,
They dwell inside the memory
of rivers and trees,
Where every second is life-changing,
Where all anger is lost,
Where they don’t worry about things
that won’t happen,
And they know damn well
we’re all just renting.

Uncle Leonard was a medic killed in World War Two
and everything I know about him
lives in my mother
who he adored,

He still looks dashing in his uniform
in the photograph on the bookshelf
which hasn’t moved in my lifetime.
He stares at me with a slight smirk
like he knew he’d never meet me,
like he knew his Hollywood pose
would be the only thing left of him
one day.

The mantra of my dad and uncle
in the flow beyond the branches
there is no need
for closure.


The snowy head of a bald eagle
nearly glistens
in the morning sun
as he sails over scarlet elm, boughs of gooseberry,
parched twigs and canary-yellow beech,
while being chased
by a murder of crows.

October anoints with
puffs of milkweed, torched cherry leaves,
tinged sycamore and a wooly caterpillar
climbing over a deer-hoof print.

This harvest field
knows no earthly difference
between Monday or Friday,
as it spreads
like a cracked egg
across a skillet
sizzling with grasshoppers.

(Note: These poems originally appeared in Poetry Pacific.)

© Denny Kolakowski

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