Three Poems

Karolina Manko

Photo Credit: Blek/Black_Claw


Last summer
Montauk taught me
how loudly the ocean
claps after it’s heard
a good story, seen
enough nakedness.
The mouth-bite
on my inner left thigh,
the bruise from assembling
my own bed. Reminders
that storytelling is a quiet art.
It’s a lot of crashing, foaming,
waiting for the evidence to surface.
The buzzing in the backseat
during a family road-trip.
The sinking heart
of a failed chemistry exam.

In bruised pride, out of habit
we pull the blankets
back over our heads, and sleep
while the world waits
to be told what to do next.

Cursing and blubbering.
At some point, we are all the Emperor
on the day he looked down
to find the one truth
that refused to be fooled.

Remembrance is a culture
of vulnerability. Re-memory,
a lineage.


Love, A Procedural Analysis Of

My mouth is flooded with a fine powder
as my tongue settles to the floor
and begins breaking down piece by cracked piece.

The body is an error in the crest line,
a promise to break down at the mouth
of something bigger and harder than it.

I know of only one way to say “I love you”
but three syllables seem like a pitiful attempt
at a haunting. I long for the cavernous abyss

of you. Voluminous enough to carry an echo.
You have always fascinated me with your depth.
I often wonder if love is a plastic-bag-suicide—

—an erasure of all but breath balanced on tongue.
The presence of nothing
but raw human soul and rotting body.


Water, Pooling in the Dark
An homage to William Burroughs, who accidentally shot his wife.

The aquamarine sky ripples in windows.
Between South Campus and North Campus I sit
with Sarah and talk about blue paint
and iambic pentameter. “Is this the face
that launched a thousand ships?

Bill crosses the quad
slinks towards Shepard Hall.
Maybe he is high again. Smoke trails
him like air bubbles encircling a stone
freshly dropped into water. He watches me
with ashtray eyes. Between us, electric ice.

We share a Mexican memory,
bread broken between two past-lives.
There is no peace in the wake
of a thousand ships. There is nothing
but the blue of her eyes and the red of her.



Karolina Manko is a 22-year-old Polish-born immigrant with a B.A. in English Literature. She recently moved from New York City to a small town in Alabama and has since been working on adding “y’all” to her vocabulary. Karolina has been awarded the Esther Unger Poetry Prize as well as the David Markowitz Poetry Award. Last April she read with 2012 U.S. Poet Laureate, Philip Levine, and 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winner, Tracy K. Smith, at the Housing Works Bookstore in NYC. More of her work can be found on her website: Primordial I. Email: karol.manko[at]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email