Five Poems by Carolyn Guinzio

Through the character of an early 20th century Dutch immigrant, these poems by Carolyn Guinzio explore the disorientation that accompanies living in a place where one doesn’t speak the language. Guinzio’s approach recalls Michelangelo’s famous quote about sculpture: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” That is, they chisel down narrative to its bare essentials, immersing the reader in the fragmented, almost cubistic reality of the characters, so that we not only read about their experiences, we live through them.

by: Carolyn Guinzio

From The Strange History of Jenny and the Wisp…


Jutting jack
under hollow
hanging on plaster
wall. Land mine
wire snipped
walking through
web strand
get it off me
unknown crawler
Jenny Mentink
limping again
apron under eyes
dusty Laramie
from Nether-
lands penciled
on manifest
break through
webs over road
fiber working
night over night
make it known



Jenny Mentink
mouth curls
Golden Prairie
Gazette she met
train stayed
in the yard
staring down
road wisp orphan-
in-waiting dug
at dirt at her
feet forlorn flaxen-
haired clairvoyant
Sioux City wisp
Jenny soldiered
alone until
held wet hem
of dress
to eyes red
dust funneled
dry crops failure
other dress flaps
black white on line



Adriana at edge
of ice veins
through continent
plot traverse
no wonder
waited numb
housing husband
one one known by
music of cart
gasp Adriana
settled into Find
A Grave raised
letters add up
stone contain
all names Jenny
gloomy sure
world was hard
Adriana unclipped
Jenny flung
earring into
endless corn



Jenny watch cold
wisp gentle slept
risk wrath
terror stare
Kansas end
pandemic stone
throw from epi-
center travel
current over
ocean news-
print vacancy
Jenny’s eyes
grow watching
wisp slept a cold
poultice Go to some-
where Go city thunder-
heads every after-
noon May June
July windows
of light prairie city
before shadow
city squares light



tore off roof
tore it
clean off
into bank
sitting room
set set in hole
sun sinking
into hollow
sun parlor sheer
curtains dark
sitting out
power roof not
made of stone,
remnant or frag-
ment pokes
out still
collapsed whole
a stone
in the hand of
pity do not
pity folly


 Carolyn Guinzio‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The New Yorker, Agni, Harvard Review, Bomb, Boston Review and many other journals. Her sixth collection is How Much Of What Falls Will Be Left When It Gets To The Ground? (Tolsun Books, 2018). Among her previous books are Spine (Parlor, 2016), and Spoke & Dark (Red Hen, 2012) winner of the To The Lighthouse/A Room Of Her Own Prize. A new project about borders, called Fault, received a 2019 Artists 360 grant. Carolyn Guinzio’s website is

One reply on “Five Poems by Carolyn Guinzio”
  1. Carolyn Guinzio writes moving poems of great delicacy, balancing opposites and adjacents at once. She also writes a kind of sentence that switches mid-run like a train on its tracks, re-casting its syntax without so much as a how-do-you-do. Through the curtain of birds and insects, or the scrim made of the lives of unadorned citizens, she allows us to press so close to the unfamiliar without making it any less strange. This is a gifted poet’s gifted first book.

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