Sunday, May 8, 2016

Haiku for the Spring

Magic of Spring by Maja Trochimczyk

Here, The first day of spring. The Equinox. The day is as long as the night. From now on it will become longer until summer solstice in June. Ancient Persians celebrated it with the holiday of New Year, the Norooz, Nowrooz, or Nowruz in English. On the night before, they had a large bonfire and they jumped over the flames. The moment of passing through the flames was the moment of purification. The fire burned all evil in the past, all bad things, bad thoughts, bad emotions: the horrors, the failures, the hurts. Sins and regrets. Evil burden of rocks carried in the sack on our backs. The fire strengthened the spirit with new life-force, energy, pure light. It destroyed the evil past of dark shadows and gave birth to the light-filled future. Persians do it now, too. It is pre-Islamic custom, from an ancient Zoroastran religion, where forces of darkness and light always fought in the world, in people's souls and minds.

burn, burn, burn
darkness into light
 white fire

Cherry Tree by Maja Trochimczyk
Cherry Tree by Maja Trochimczyk

Ancient Slavic peoples, including Poles, also had this custom, this ritual of jumping over the fire - only it was held at Summer Solstice in June, on the shortest night of the year. Once I learned about the Persians, I understood why. But I never did that, I'm afraid of fire. I'm not a jumper. Not a sports person, either, except for swimming and sailing. I'd love to have a sailboat on a lake, somewhere. Not on the ocean. I do not like salty water. I do not trust the ocean, I'm afraid of tsunamis. That's why I bought a house in the mountains, on high ground.

in an ocean of tears
dreams of sweet water

Sky Greeting by Maja Trochimczyk

All religions have this element of purification, cleansing the soul, healing in the spring. New light, new life. Freedom and joy. In Christianity we have the sacrament of baptism (I was baptized as an adult, so I remember clearly the moment of passing through from darkness to light), the confession (that one is scary, with so many corrupt priests), the Mass and eating light-filled bread (my favorite), and the yearly calendar of rituals - Christmas, the birth of light at Winter Solstice, and Easter, the triumph of light at Spring Equinox.

sun rises
a round loaf of bread
in pre-dawn sky

Constant Return I by Julian Stanczak (1965)

line follows line
gravitational waves
bend cosmos

In a Japanese religion, or spiritual practice of Sukyo Mahikari, the Carriers of Light, people use light to heal each other. The centers of the palms of your hands emit healing light, pure energy that can be directed at someone's head or body, various "knots" of toxic thoughts, toxins in the body. The light dissolves the knots, purifies. The palms tingle a bit when you do it. I went to a spiritual center several times and was purified in this way. I had lots of "knots" to disentangle, lots of toxins to remove, a lifetime of hurt.

I give you
light filled with light
what else?

Magnolia by Maja Trochimczyk

If pink wasn't pink
would you 
wake up, still? 

Ambika Talwar, Susan Rogers, Lois P. Jones and Maja Trochimczyk

Susan Rogers, a friend who is a member of this group, is a great poet. In our group, called the Spiritual Quartet and active for a while, we used to call her a "hummingbird" - for she constantly flickers around, is always in motion, always busy. We also had Lois P. Jones, the fiery "phoenix" reborn from the flames of self-destruction, and Taoli-Ambika Talwar, the proud and royal "peacock" (the bird is a national symbol of India, her home country).

birds scatter
feathers dance
on spring breeze

Who am I? My friends called me a "dove"  of gentleness, serenity, and love. I wrote so many love poems, and read them with such affection, I'm just filled with love, or so it seems... But the Dove is also the Holy Spirit, also the bird that Noah sent from his Arc three times to find dry land after the flood. Two times, it came back with nothing, but the third time it brought back a twig of green, for peace, for the end of the flood, for the spring.

above waves
a dove shines green
in sunlight

mirror says
to the sky
I win

A Brook and Spring by Maja Trochimczyk

orange cup
of nectar 
verdant dream


Meanwhile... I went to the Colliding Rhymes Poetry Reading organized by a fellow Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, Joe DeCenzo. It was on March 16, at the McGroarty Arts Center, in Tujunga, a part of their Arts at Play Festival. I heard some of my most favorite poets - Sean Hill, a hip-hop artist with a heart of gold and the most astounding mouth capable of making sound effects and reciting a whole segment of hip hop, without a single curse!

Then, there was the surreal Just Kibbe, with his text-message-acronym poetry book and the ibis portrait, Jessica Wilson and Juan Cardenas, the bohemian lovebirds - a poetess and her flutist - and Neil McCarthy, still straight from Ireland, and still in his torn jeans and sandals... For this reading, Justin Kibbe repainted his car yellow - for sun, for Sunland - and asked poets to write on it. Here's my poem, based on a saying by Britta Muehlbach of Phoenix House.

Britta says:
"I fearlessly speak
my truth with love"
I smile, in silence

And here's another very short poem... that I saw, but did not write. I like it. We are what we do, after all...

Tulips in Descanso (FB Album)

Lady with an Ermine and the Monuments Men

The Royal Castle in Warsaw in 2013.

There is a new feature film, fact-based and shocking, about the destruction, looting, and recovery of artworks by the Nazis. George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" is a work of fiction, but "The Rape of Europa" - a 2006 documentary that first brought these issues to the world's attention, is not.  I found its depiction of the whole scale purposeful robbery and vandalism conducted by Germans in the whole Europe to be fascinating, with lots of unknown footage and mind-boggling examples. The four countries that are at the heart of the story were treated differently by the race-obsessed Germans: the artwork of the inferior, "slave" Slavic races of Poles and Russians could, or should, be destroyed, the artwork of Italy and French just stolen. Modern art was destined for destruction everywhere, but "classics" had a chance - especially if they could be integrated into the mythology of the "Aryan" race.

Ruins of Warsaw's Royal Castle in 1945.

Apparently, the mass murderers from the NSDAP and SS were ardent admirers of high quality antiques and masterpieces of Western art. So much so, that they took and hid these pieces for their own "consumption" and for placement in their own "museums." A lot of that art was looted from Jewish owners, targeted and systematically stolen, while the owners were murdered. Some paintings and sculptures were taken from state museums, some from palaces of aristocrats and kings, some from art galleries. Nothing was sacred.

The Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy) in the Old Town of Warsaw.

Poland, the first target of Hitler, the nation destined for physical extermination and cultural annihilation, suffered some of the most grievous losses of WWII.  It never surrendered, did not form a "colaborator" government that worked with the Nazis, like the Vichy in France. The Holocaust of Jewish Poles and Polish Jews is a crime without parallel. But the suffering of Poles was immense, too. Poland lost 3 millions of its Jewish citizens and 3 million of its Polish inhabitants. The destruction of Polish culture was a particularly significant goal for the Nazis, along with the killing of the cultural and national elites - officers, professors, artists, the clergy. Anyone with a brain and a position of power could become a target. Members of my mothers' family were on the list: two priests, Karol and Feliks Wajszczuk, ended up in Dachau, one survived, one was killed - for supporting the underground resistance.

In 1944, the Royal Castle and the whole city of Warsaw were systematically destroyed, holes drilled into walls, stuffed with dynamite, and exploded; fire-throwers used to set the interiors and libraries aflame. Poles rebuilt what they could after the war, recovered  some artwork, not all - it was returned by American Monuments Men, by the Soviet government. But many important pieces disappeared without a trace. The destroyed buildings were reconstructed, the originals irreparably lost.  I used to go to music school in the Old Town, Music High School named after Jozef Elsner, the teacher of Chopin. The school was on Miodowa street and the best way was to take the tramway no. 26 and go through the W-Z Tunnel, under the old town. When I was coming back from my lessons I looked up into the empty window hole in the last wall of the palace, pointing towards heaven, lonely, damaged, forlorn.  I still remember its angular shape next to the full  moon, above the rooftops of the old town. I was happy to see it rebuilt; it took many years. But the palace looked too new for me, and still does. It is a simulacrum, a model, not the real thing.


In 1944, a beautiful song was written by a Polish-Jewish popular music composer, Albert Harris, a farewell to the dying city. He composed it in Italy, at Monte Cassino, as a member of the Polish army that was fighting at the Nazi stronghold. Harris joined the General Anders' Army that was formed from Polish refugees, and prisoners in the Soviet Union, then joined the British army in liberating Italy. After the war, the soldiers were scattered around the world. Britain did not want them, they went to Canada, Australia, the U.S.. Harris ended up in America. His Warsaw song became so popular after 1945, that it was even translated into Danish and became one of Denmark's greatest hits. = Albert Harris, Song about My Warsaw (Piosenka o Mojej Warszawie), in Polish, recorded by W. Sypniewski in 1945, illustrated with pictures of Warsaw in 1939 and after its liberation. = Albert Harris, Piosenka o Mojej Warszawie in Danish, recorded in 1946.


The famous portrait by Leonardo of the Lady with an Ermine was one of the most notable recoveries of the Monuments Men. An image of the mistress of Italian Duke Sforza, painted in 1490, the portrait belonged to the Czartoryski family of aristocracy and kept in their private museum in Krakow, Poland. After being stolen and hidden, it returned to Poland, thanks to its discovery by the Monuments Men of General Eisenhower - art historians sent along with troops to organize the recovery and restoration of stolen or damaged artwork. They found the Lady in a hunting lodge of Nazi ruler of Poland, General Governor Hans Frank. It was then returned to Poland to the museum of its original owners, the Czartoryski family, and then "nationalized" - now it is found at the other Royal Castle of Poland, Krakow's ancient Wawel Castle (the kings moved to Warsaw in the 17th century, and Wawel was not destroyed, so its old walls are really old...).

The painting's story is quite convoluted, its beauty - still astounding. I decided to write a poem in praise of its beauty and history. Here it is, a brand new reflection on Leonardo's gift to the world.

The Lady with an Ermine

Leonardo’s brush created a vessel for her to inhabit,
a grey blue sky they painted black much later –
she was pregnant, her son – a Sforza heir, 
her lover – a Duke, a white ermine – his emblem.

In 1830, with her Polish princes, she went
into exile through Dresden to Paris, locked
in a box of precious wood. She came back.

In 1940, hidden again, she was safe until Nazis 
found her – Governor Hans Frank fell in love,
in a palace he had stolen in Kraków, 
in a hunting lodge he had built in Bavaria. 
The Red Army was closing in.

She felt a slight discomfort in the crisp winter air
when American soldiers held her up, 
for the cameras of Monuments Men.

Another train ride. The navy darkness of a museum wall.
Under a muted spotlight, schoolchildren play a game:
Walk briskly from right to left, don’t let your eyes  
leave her eyes, see how she is watching you.

Her eyes follow me around the room
with that secretive smile she shares
with her famous cousin. She sees my delight,
caresses  the smooth, warm ermine fur.

She knows that I know that she knows

© 2014 by Maja Trochimczyk, written on February 11, 2014

If you need to read love poetry on Valentine's Day or its weekend, visit Moonrise Press Blog for sample poems and a series of links to other poetry of love and reflections on Valentine's Day and types of love, and its folly.

Day of Remembrance and Family History

On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops came into the largely empty death and concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Its prisoners were sent on the death march towards Germany. Only few were left behind. The United Nations selected this day to establish the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The more time passes since the war, the more people want to forget or deny that it happened. It is important to remember. All the more so, that people who have seen and heard what happened when it happened are dying out. It is important to record their memories, even if these memories are not exact and fit for official historical record. Even if they are garbled in family stories, passed on from grandmother, to mother, to daughter, transmitted from grandfather, to father, to son.

 Born in Warsaw, Poland, with ancestral roots in Podlasie and Kresy - eastern borderlands of Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus, now divided between these three countries - I used to travel to visit the tombs of my grandparents every October, for All Souls Day, Zaduszki. On the way we passed through a small town with a cemetery right by the road. What happened is in my poem.


The arch of candlelight in the night sky
above the town of Kałuszyn greets them on the way
to the grandparents’ village. Zaduszki.
All Souls’ Day – the annual visit to the cemetery.

They drive towards the yellow halo
above charcoal horizon. Aunt Basia reminds her:
You have to remember. This town was Jewish
and they were all killed. There’s nobody left
to light a candle for them. They don’t even have tombs.
They were all taken, all murdered.
Other people moved into their houses.
Beyond the moss-covered stone wall
of the village cemetery in freshly plowed fields
her grandparents twin tombstones
rest in the reassuring golden shade
of ancient chesnut and oak.

Candles, chrysanthemum, flower wreaths.
They walk in the rustling leaves,
pray, think of the past.
She tries to imagine the empty town,
the unnamed strangers.

Thirty years later, in Montreal, she sees her first Jew,
in a long satin robe, yarmulke, with curly locks of hair.
She smiles, finally relieved of her duty.
They remember.

(C) 2014 by Maja Trochimczyk

This poem is a part of a new book I suddenly started writing, What Children Learn from War with bits and pieces remembered by my parents, my grandparents, my friend's mother. With bits and pieces heard and seen. With lessons what to do and how to behave to survive. I started thinking about it because I had to. Invited to a conference on "The Musical World of Polish Jews, 1920-1960" at the Arizona State University in Tempe, I decided to educate myself on the historical context of the musical lives I was writing about. My study of "Jewish Composers of Polish Music in 1943" evolved into a different paper, seeking to show the extensive presence of Jewish musicians in Polish musical life in the interwar period, and their displacement or destruction afterwards. For the context, I read some books, then decided to see what happened and, thanks to YouTube, was able to watch documentaries. The most striking one was about the trials of German guards caught by Soviets at the extermination camp in Majdanek near Lublin. Their complete lack of remorse, their inability to understand that what they did - kill Jews - was wrong. They turned to their accusers, not comprehending: "But we did not kill you, guys. We had to do what we did. We just killed Jews."

For these men, quickly relieved of their lack of comprehension by the "guilty" verdict and a public execution, the Jews were not human beings. Over 100 death camps guards were convicted and executed in Poland, under Soviet rule, only about 10 in Germany, liberated by American and Allied troops. The purpose of remembering the Jewish victims is obvious: this was an unprecedented crime against humanity, crime against all of us.

I went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for the first time this year. I was very impressed with the scope and tone of the exhibits. As a Pole, I was also grateful for an extensive and fair portrayal of the suffering of all Polish people: the Slavs, in accordance with their name, given to them back in the times of the Roman Empire - sclave/slave - were to be slave laborers. Their leaders - teachers, priests, university professors, officers - murdered, their schools and colleges closed. Poland was the first country invaded by Hitler that fought the invasion. The first country that never formed a government supportive of the Nazi rule. The country with over 400,000 people involved in the  underground Home Army - armed resistance. The country with the largest number of the Righteous among the Nations in the world.

Some people want to use the term "Holocaust" for other victims. It is and should be limited to the Jews and Gypsies, who were both scheduled for complete annihilation. It is hard to visualize a crime of such monumental proportions, executed in a frenzy, accelerating towards the end of the war: when all was lost and the ring was tightening around Germany, they still have time to kill the Jews. Calling it crazy does not do it. But visiting the Museum is a step towards understanding.

One exhibit struck me - the photographic record of the entire shtetl of Ejszyszki, from 1890 to 1942. All its Jewish inhabitants were killed but the photographs somehow survived and now form the inside of a circular tower that spans several floors. You can look up from the ground floor and see the small photographs way up high, with details disappearing. You can look down from the second floor and see the generations receding into shadows. The exhibit is masterly, as it brings the ordinary lives of ordinary people to our attention. Just like you and me. They went to school, worked, married, had fun, posed for family portraits... This exhibit filled in the blank that I had in my mind about that empty ghost town of Kaluszyn that we drove by each year and I had to remember. I did not know what to remember, just that it was empty after the war. So this is how these people looked like. Us. I went into the Hall of Remembrance, lighted a candle - just one candle - for all the people from Kaluszyn whom I never knew. Never had a chance to know. Germans made sure of that. I also lit a candle for the victims from my mother's family.

Thanks to the efforts of family historians Waldemar Wajszczuk and Barbara Miszta, we know how many people in the extended Polish family Wajszczuk from Podlasie have been incarcerated in Auschwitz, who died there. Who was a prisoner in Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Majdanek. Who died there.

My family is not Jewish, yet claims quite a few victims. And freedom fighters. Father Karol Wajszczuk (b. 1887 – d. 1942) was a prisoner of the Lublin Castle since April 1940, he was then moved to Sachsenhausen and then to Dachau on December 14, 1940. He died on 28 May 1942 in the Castle Hartheim in a gas chamber built to exterminate the disabled for the Euthanasia program. His father, Piotr, was the brother of Franciszek, the patriarch of the Wajszczuk-Trochimczyk branch. He was a chaplain for a small cell of Polish freedom fighters, an underground group called "Our Eagles" and including the following men: Stefan Kowalczuk, Bazyli Łaźko, Adolf Młynarczuk, Feliks Szafrański, Józef Krawiecki, Tomasz Stańczuk, Jan Dąbrowski and Bolesław Hawryluk killed in Auschwitz; Stanisław Daniluk arrested and murdered by the Gestapo in Radzyń Podlaski; Jan Ciechowski and Jan Saczuk, also murdered by Germans. "Only Jan Kozłowiec, imprisoned in the Lublin castle, was rescued by members of the Warsaw diversion section of AK" - states the memorial site for Father Wajszczuk in his home parish of Drelow.

His cousin, Father Feliks Wajszczuk (b. 1902 – d. 1973) was in Sachenhausen, then in Dachau since 14 December 1940 and was liberated by Americans on 25 May 1945. He spent the rest of his life in a monastery in France, since his damaged health did not allow him to work. All together, seven members of the extended Wajszczuk family were imprisoned by the Nazis at the infamous Lublin Castle. Two died there and one, Józef Wajszczuk, died in Auschwitz where he was sent in April 1942 and died on 20 December 1942. “Known” as “Mały” he was a member of the Polish Underground (Home Army). Three other members of the extended family were killed fighting in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944: Barbara, Wojciech, and Antoni Wajszczuk. They followed in death their father Edmund (Karol’s brother) who was also involved with the Polish underground.

I wrote about them in two poems. Their memories should be carried forward to the younger generations. I did not want to know, did not want to remember. I was "allergic" to all these monuments to the victims, commemorations, the entire month of April spent on national "martyrology"... Too much for a teenager wanting to study music, read books, go to art exibits. Too much for a young "social butterfly" flitting from an art opening to a new music premiere.

Standing Guard

Enough with the cemeteries, martyrs.
Who cares? Not she, forced to stand
at a tombstone for some fifty strangers
in the freezing rain of April.
She shivers in a white shirt, pleated navy skirt,
a school sweater. The longest hour
of her ten young years.

Someone gave her an ugly beret
she would have never picked. A red tie?
Not allowed to move, sit, turn, frown,
or scratch her nose. Not allowed to talk
to the other girl. No smiling either. Eyes fixed
straight ahead, looking at a distant point.
The longest hour. This is how the dead
consume the living. Reverse cannibalism.

Would she have been more willing
had her parents told her?

Two great uncles, priests held at Dachau:
one relieved of his ills in a gas chamber,
one liberated, with his body, spirit broken.
A fighter of the Polish underground killed in Auschwitz.
Two others hanged in the Lublin Castle.
A denounced Home Army soldier
who came back alive from Majdanek and Gross Rosen.
Three siblings went to fight in the Warsaw Uprising,
were buried in ruins in September 1944.
Those who perished in the Soviet Gulag.
That officer shot in Katyń.

The list goes on and on.
Is that what a ten-year-old should learn?

The list of my family's victims includes freedom fighters, members of underground resistance. Not ordinary children, babies, mothers, grandmothers, wheel-chair bound invalids. It is the killing of ALL that is unique to the Holocaust. It is the killing in the name of making a new, better world. This, too, we have to remember.

Christmas Carols and Verse 2014

Holiday Poem for Christmas 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

The Styrofoam snowman lookalike Santa 
Sits next to a penguin vase
In fake snow, tinsel

A gilded fruit bowl
“Not fit for food consumption”
Pine branches and cones made of plastic

The Night of GMO Christmas
Stores full of sad, frazzled people 
Buying gifts 

They’ll return next Monday

Lasciate omni speranza?
To be is just to have? 

Still, there's the happy warmth 
Of a baby dozing off 
On Grandpa’s lap
A child’s laughing 
At paper angel’s wings
She crumples in her hands

With pink cheeks, smudged by chocolate
From a large bite of a cookie
She made with her Mom
For Santa

“Merry Christmas” - she smiles
And all is well on Earth
And in Heaven
All is well and will be

(c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

Happy Holidays 2014 Card

By Christina Rosetti

Christmas hath a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answring music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

The Holy Night

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem;
The dumb kine from their fodder turning them,
Softened their horned faces
To almost human gazes
Toward the newly Born:
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks
Brought their visionary looks,
As yet in their astonied hearing rung
The strange sweet angel-tonge:
The magi of the East, in sandals worn,
Knelt reverent, sweeping round,
With long pale beards, their gifts upon the ground,
The incense, myrrh, and gold
These baby hands were impotent to hold:
So let all earthlies and celestials wait
Upon thy royal state.
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!

311 (Snow)

by Emily Dickinson
clr gif
It sifts from Leaden Sieves —
It powders all the Wood.
It fills with Alabaster Wool
The Wrinkles of the Road —

It makes an Even Face
Of Mountain, and of Plain —
Unbroken Forehead from the East
Unto the East again —

It reaches to the Fence —
It wraps it Rail by Rail
Till it is lost in Fleeces —
It deals Celestial Vail

To Stump, and Stack — and Stem —
A Summer’s empty Room —
Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,
Recordless, but for them —

It Ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen —
Then stills its Artisans — like Ghosts —
Denying they have been —


Photos of snowflakes by Wilson Bentley (1865-1931) from Wikipedia under standard terms.
Photos of Holly and Poinsettia leaves by Maja Trochimczyk

Making Christmas and Mystic Rose for the New Year 2013

Large White Poinsettia - Maja Trochimczyk

The sunlight in California is so different from that of northern areas of Canada, or Poland. There, the light is pale, often grayish, frail. Here, it brings a rainbow of colors to everything it touches. Everything is more vivid, more intense, under the bright rays, in summer or winter...

I came to Los Angeles in 1996 ... I made Sunland my home, with a garden of roses and pomegranates overlooking the magical golden, bronze, purple mountains. I love writing and taking pictures of flowers, leaves and the sky. Like my roses, I’ve flourished in sunlight – there is a lot to be thankful for! First and foremost my three children, Marcin - born in Poland, Ania and Ian - born in Montreal, Canada.

Christmas Decorations by Maja Trochimczyk

With a blended, multicultural family, we had to become creative. We have had a real Christmas every second year, starting on Christmas Eve with the Polish Wigilia dinner of traditional dishes (of beets, mushrooms, and fish). The dinner included best wishes shared by breaking a white square wafer, called oplatek. On Christmas Eve, there was also time for the midnight Mass and carols, but no gifts - that were shared at the Wigilia table back in Poland. We had our pile of gifts on Christmas mornings. In this, we followed North American customs. Instead of a large family brunch and dinner parties (hard to do without family here), we gathered around the Christmas tree, opened our gifts, mostly books and videos, and lounged around in our new pajamas, listening to carols and snacking on chocolate and cakes. We created our own traditions.

Barszcz z uszkami, Wigilia 2011 by Maja Trochimczyk

What about the years without Christmas? We did exactly the same thing, but a week earlier. This year, our Christmas will be on December 22!  It was (and is) quite amusing to go out for an afternoon walk, dazed by all the Christmas charm of gifts and affection, to see everyone else rushing around, frazzled and busy, still days before the holidays… For years, we have lived in our own time zone, created our own traditions, our own happiness…

Christmas Tree Decorations - Maja Trochimczyk

A Christmas Engagement
(for Vivien)

The tree has its ornaments
Cinnamon its green apples
Gold paper waits for the gifts

Gingerbread pairs up with chocolate
Dried figs waltz with the pecans
Paper angel spreads yellowed wings

Clementines fill Christmas stockings
The first star peeks in the window
The Wigilia dinner is served

He takes her hand with affection
The holly dances with ivy
She laughs at her sparkling ring

(c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk

Christmas in the Bandito Park, Tujunga Canyon Road

Richard Stewart, an artist and community activist, did exactly the same - created his own holidays! For Christmas, he dresses up the rock sculptures in his Bandito Park on Tujunga Canyon Road in Santa Hats.  This year, on December 15, 2012, the sculptures were visited by poets and dancers from Alethea Dance Group and the performances were recorded for a documentary film.  I read one poem and gave the dancers some chocolate-covered gingerbread. My poem, along those by other poets, is to be published in a coffee-table book of photos of the rock sculptures and poetry "Rock of Rancho Tujunga." What a wonderful idea! Thank you, Richard!

Richard Stewart, Maja Trochimczyk, and Dancers at the Bandito Park

The Place of Stones

Here before us
Here around us
Here after us

Stone people

Solid - silent - still

Galaxies collide
Stars explode
Nebulae form

Stellar dust drifts
Swirls across the ocean
Tides rise and recede
Waves spill over the desert
Plankton becomes plants
Shells merge into rocks
Layered - heated - pressed
Hold on! Hold on! Do not go!

Stone people outlive us
Stellar dust and sunshine
We age
Petrified - fractured - stressed
Sink into the earth
Blend with the elements
Grow roots until

We can breathe out free
Serene - silent - still

Stone people

(c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk

Maja Trochimczyk reads poetry in Il Bandito Park, December 15, 2012

My poem is not very Christmasy, it is a reflection on our mortality and the fact that rocks, indeed, do outlive us. This does not bother me. Actually, what's really annoying is that our own clothes outlive us. I was struck with this surreal thought, that mere fabric with buttons and sweaty seams has more life in it than we,  the transient dwellers of this planet. Of course, we have the secret of immortal life that our clothes or rocks do not know... 

But today, the thought about not being here, or rather leaving suddenly after a very short visit, is made all the more real by the recent death of Frank Pastore, killed in a motorcycle accident on the 210 freeway. The beloved KKLA religious talk show host did a lot to make each holiday season special...and was, like me, just 55 years old. Rest in peace...

Camellia blossom, Descanso Gardens, December 2012

The Year 2013 will be very unusual. It is going to be the Year of the Snake, apparently filled with good luck, material blessings, but also with deception and interpersonal problems.  What it willl be depends on us, and we can make it a beautiful, blessed year, if we property focus our attention on things that matter.

Haiga "The Gift" (c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk

In response to an invitation by Susan Rogers, I created a little reminder of this focus on what really mattters as a bas-relief collage haiga, that is a paper and fabric image with a haiku-like comment.  The invitation was to create a poem or an art-work on the theme of the Snake or Target on a rectangular board.  The results in the form of calligraphy, artwork, photos will be displayed at the Japanese American Cultural Center in Los Angeles.  

My choice to make a surreal flower with petals from a white poinsetta, daisy, and a photo of matilla poppy, with a double eye in the middle reflected the choice of the theme - the Target. The eye is copied from another collage of mine, created for the Beatrix Project of Kathi Stafford for my poem "Rosa Mystica" and published in her chapbook (and reprinted below). 

Here, the double eye of the rose here becomes the eye of the Mystical Sunbloom. I entitled my little art-piece for the New Year 2013 - "The Gift" - and I think a lot of people, especially Christians and those following mystical traditions know the answer to this riddle. If not, reading the anthology Meditations on Divine Names is highly recommended. The answer to every question about the meaning of life and everything is "42" as we know from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  The trouble is we do not know what is the question...

Ever calling - Never heard

Ever seeking - Never seen


Detail from "The Gift" (c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk

Happy New Year 2013!


The original version of the eye appeared in a digital collage for "Rosa Mystica"  - a poem about Mother Mary and Dante's Paradiso.

Rosa Mystica

The love that calms this heaven always offers welcome
 with such greetings to make the candle ready for its flame 
 ~ Dante, Il Paradiso, Canto XXX: 52-54 

I knew it all along
(at least, suspected)
Beatrice’s swimming cap
betrays Heaven as nothing 
but an oversized pool

where saints swim like fish
in the river of light 
and God-Mother rests 
on white lounge petals 
of a Mystic Rose 

Giovanni di Paolo’s
illumined pages of Il Paradiso  
unveil creature comforts 
beyond the sapphire glow
of Dante’s Empyrean 

Angels curl in their pods
like babies asleep 
on metallic wings 
with round pillow halos 
of shimmering gold 

Multi-hued gowns of cobalt, 
salmon, palm green, and sienna 
reveal the childish joy 
 of heavenly hosts
adoring the Trinity 

Cherubs play hopscotch 
dance the Sarabande
twirl like a swarm of bees 
among light-bursts that do not 
 sear their eyes with pain 

Rushing waterfalls of laughter 
sparkle in diamond waves
of the robes of our Mother 
Daughter of her Son 
figlia del tuo figlio 

She gave Him a kiss 
on the way to Rose Garden 
serene Love’s Greeting
beneath seraphic wings 
rainbows that cut our darkness


The digital art collage includes my photographs and Beatrix from Giovanni di Paolo’s illustrations for Il Paradiso. These images are a part of the British Library's Yates Thompson 36 Codex made in Sienna in the 15th century. Rosetti’s drawing of the Rose Garden is in the collection of the Museum of the Fine Arts in Boston and his painting of Love’s Greeting is in the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum in Boston.

The reference to the Virgin Mother, “figlia der tuo figlio” (daughter of your son), is from Dante, Il Paradiso, Canto XXXIII: 1.

 The ephigraph is cited from the Princeton Dante Project ( “Sempre l'amor che queta questo cielo / accoglie in sé con sì fatta salute / per far disposto a sua fiamma il candela.” Il Paradiso, Canto XXX: 52-54.