Tessinparken By Monika Kostera

The thing about childhood places
is that they allow us

directly into their dreams.
We see how our own

are spun into and from
their fabric: the currents are clear,

and palpable, as storms and rivers.
The young woman with the bike has

a familiar stride, a swiftness
of the elbow I have seen before,

I am sure, thirteen
years ago, sitting

here, in this place, when it dawned
upon me that

the children who play here
would have

the same lining
of light in their dreams

as I do, that
they and I were connected

by the way laughter carries,
reflected off the warm cliffs

and the water surface.
People come and go, but the trees are here

always, the guardian co-dreamers.
Only they know our real names

and they wish us well. This park,
on a July evening,

is the only proof I have
of home.

(Amsterdam, 2016)

I am a streetpoet by Monika Kostera

It was 1968 and the gods
descended from Mount Olympus
and walked among us. I was

barely five, following
the grownups around Paris.
The pavements were humming
and the old Halles

were still full of light and shades
trickling into rivulets and puddles, swift
to the touch. Without the strong

narrating voice, connected
by dream’s umbilical cord,
I listened with my body.

don’t remember Louvre and the grand boulevards
only the mayflies of dust
and the smell

of ripe fruits, like the inside
of churches. The face of the street smiling at me
from so close, like a good mother.

Yes, I know what was
underneath those flagstones. I am still
full of whispers,
like a dry, empty shell.

(Rethymno, 2016)

Undercurrents by Monika Kostera

I dreamed of watching, together

with a blond childhood friend,

a train to Morocco passing by.

Its massive body was slowly crashing

through a small, modest room with net curtains.

Then it rolled away and the room

regathered, a gentle wind

in the curtains. A framed

calendar picture on the wall.

When I got up I found

Muninn’s black feather

on my bathroom sink,

a book lying face down

on the shelf. Everything

is riven now, even the clouds

are undecided. Only weeping and wine give

something like an afterimage of solace, fading

into the body; not really there, a hallucination

of relief. Everything is riven,

and God’s own little lockpick

has been called for.

Feel the bones within you taking flight –

this is only

the beginning.


(Sheffield, 2016)

Power by Monika Kostera

That layer of dream which is like the abyssal

zone of the ocean, darker than space,

where all is one with gravity. There


I am a transparent tube.


To wake up shatters lungs,

makes heart rattle, one comes up with

body all wrecked with pain. Nothing


can be brought up, no name, no language,

no story, resurfacing is possible when naked



The likeness of cause and effect, the calm of the facts

cannot fool us, not now, not any more.

Something has burst. Tubular roots snap and fill

veins and stars with a pulse.


Skin, so thin.


I mistook my feet for roses and snakes,

walked away with bare, crooked gait.

The Trees by Monika Kostera

(Zaton, 2013)

What shall I do?
The smooth walnut tree,
cut down in her prime.
She that cradled me,
told me stories
unmatched since.

When the leaves fall
where shall I go?
When hurt,
when I’ve done wrong,
when no tears can wash
my eyes clear?

The oak tree upon the hill
that taught me that courage
hangs his hat in the mind,
in whose branches
I reached beyond structures,
to think the unthought.


He, the same who
taught me to grow,
was struck by lightning.
His roots died slowly and
the light is stark,
undappled by his leaves.

none tread before me now,
no canopy above.

So take this, my song,
black swallow.
Weave it with
the dead twigs
of fallen trees
and make a nest
in the bows of the living.



Monika Kostera, a professor at the University of Krakow from her debut collection Oneiropeia. I include here a trio that have abuse & manipulation deep in their roots but perhaps still an optimistic aftertaste.