Two excerpts from Leafmold by F. Daniel Rzicznek
Associate editor Tracy Haack says, "F. Daniel Rzicznek's excerpts from Leafmold provoke me to a greater awareness of my relationships. Rzicznek's careful use of the primal, the natural, isolates the senses. So that at once I am alone, and I am surrounded by all the minute domestic things that fill pockets, sock drawers, and empty waiting moments. So that at once the world is slowing and speeding with the instance of time, asking me again and again, in confusion, in remembrance, in exhilaration: how does it feel to be alive? And every time I read F. Daniel Rzicznek's few thoughtful lines of quiet turmoil, I am confronted with a new answer."
I stare at the stars peering up through the carpet as my students write. It’s all I can do not to raze the home. I create proximity wherever I trail. I find a thermal and exercise my sense of smell. I am dark feathers and older trees. A low fog takes the shape of Ted Berrigan’s beard and drifts with the road. The sun is a breast. Ancient perfume. My nipples match my eyes. I am a steam engine on two legs. My rain loosens leaves. I am further rain. I am fake security cameras. I am myself a decade ago describing an impossibility that could be occurring now. My preferred light remains that of the shitty clip-on reading lamp variety. The wind changes. I was a street performer depicting the making of a documentary. I became brittle and unsure. I buckled a diminutive three-dimensional icon of myself into a stroller and wheeled it to the cliffs. A failure of traffic lights, I continued as the infinite mispronunciation of Om. I am counting my chickens. In Ohio, the wind rakes the tiny hairs on the back of my hand before heading toward Greenland, smiling that betel smile.
Aphids. The tent inspected by ants and round orange beetles (our guests from Asia) as we watched their shadows wander from inside—sudden hustle of a spider across a yellow panel. Factory setting: are you the railroad? I am nothing. Under a lung-colored sky the stairs of the sea lead up out of my belly into a sequence climbing my neck. We fought but we didn’t win. This became a viral species of masterpiece, a meditation on why he or she has gone, a hurrying between otherwise identical opposites, a cold hand stuffed down my pants resting on the thigh’s illusory layer of fate, another list among the numerous lists. Desire appears and appears—a light that has stayed with us. How the smallest falsehoods fit. How it feels to finally arrive at giving the impression. How the will resists italicizing the intentional. How does it feel to be alive. All right: hammered dulcimer, roasted broccoli, the second floor porch overlooking the season’s first snow, unrelentingly primal. Majesty: worm in the bottle, stem of gourd, sign of lover. All this flying through me, all this talk. All this ragged blaze of edge.
F. Daniel Rzicznek’s collections and chapbooks of poetry include Vine River Hermitage (Cooper Dillon Books 2011), Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press 2009), Neck of the World (Utah State University Press 2007), and Cloud Tablets (Kent State University Press 2006). His poems have appeared in Boston Review, The New Republic, Orion, Mississippi Review, Shenandoah, and Notre Dame Review, with new work forthcoming in Verse, Blackbird, Another Chicago Magazine, and elsewhere. Also coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press 2010), Rzicznek teaches writing at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.