Poems by Peycho Kanev

      One Poet in Chicago


This city is scary and supreme.

Its shiny lakeshore with white yachts

and seagulls and herons tilting

quietly upon the marble waves.

The hard-blowing wind

licking the rind of the imposing trees.

Those crazy and beautiful people

walking up and down the streets,

as the Sears tower pierces the alabaster sky.

A long time ago, in some small house,

Carl Sandburg was writing his dreams.

Not too far away, Hemingway learned

his way with the shotgun.

This city of butchers, gangsters,

and sky-drinking poets.

This city of uncertainty

and misunderstood simplicity.

This city of fondness

and knives leading to oblivion.

But it is still early…

One of these days when you wake up with words

in your head transforming into money–

unallowable poet’s dreams…

God did not give His permission to each and every scrivener.

Cup of coffee or the unsolved color of the whiskey–

which absurd will the poet pick and choose?

This city will take care of it!

Back in the day, you could see the little Gwendolyn Brooks

skipping rope with the words forming in her head.

Now, the slam joints are full of screaming typesetters.

This is your place under the sun. City of destiny!

Do not leave it…

The stones of the ruined city wall

will never say: Goodbye!




  About Diogenes and the full tub

While I am writing this poem, I am scribbling

some notes for my next book.

They say that’s always the case, don’t they?

Also, they say that a broken clock is right twice

a day. I remember, a few years ago during one

night in the forest, I was chased by two shiny eyes.

I had no knife. I was armed with a rusty searchlight

and a bottle of brandy. But I will keep that story

for my next book. Now, I have something else on

my mind. While I am writing this down in my

shabby notebook, I look out the window. Outside,

the nightly silence is spreading, and above that,

the great mountain hangs over. Vultures and bats

are cutting the sky and sing songs unheard by

everyone but me. And it seems to me that today,

for the first time, I’ve heard within the long river

the true voice of the water. I saw on the clouds

in the sky what eternity really is. I understood

the everlasting secrets of the grass and the vines,

locked in the ground. I felt the meaning of

the days. Even the book on the table can’t give me

this wisdom – The Poems of Catullus? Very good!

But the seasons will change again — all books will

be written; the words will fade away, and speech

will turn sour. But what difference does it make

right now, when I am turning into one of the saddest

wonders of the world?




                 Lead off


I am still in the old dingy neighborhood,

waiting for the skies to turn into cashmere.

Ice-cream trucks play baroque symphonies,

outside, and the brown kids chase each other

in the dark with their whizzing lightsabers.

If I try to fry something I will eventually burn it,

and the avant-garde words from Cummings’s “is 5”

crumble down on the wine-stained carpet.

I attentively prowl the streets late at night,

stalking the shadows that are drawing nearer.

Concealing myself in the Serbian liquor store,

where the celluloid shop boy sells me bottles


full of canned laughter. It will be like this

until the end – eventually – no coke or grass,

just this indescribable mouth in my head,

lisping in my good ear “Times must pass”.



Advice to the little girl


Always learn your lessons.

Don’t drink.

Don’t smoke.

Listen to your parents –

grandma and grandpa too,

if they are still around.

No boyfriends ‘till high school.

Love yourself.

Leave yourself.

Know your body.

Read a lot of books.

Take long walks in the woods.

Eat vegetables.

Be humble.

Be pushy when necessary.

Swim among life’s difficulties


… keep sliding.

But do not write poems.



Peycho Kanev is the Editor In Chief of Kanev Books. His poems have appeared in more than 500 literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, The Monongahela Review, Steam Ticket, Midwest Literary Review, Third Wednesday, The Cleveland Review, Loch Raven Review, In Posse Review, The Penwood Review, Mascara Literary Review and many others. He is nominated for the Pushcart Award and lives in Chicago. In 2009 his short story collection Walking Through Walls and in April 2010 his poetry collection American Notebooks were both published in Bulgaria and Russia. His poetry collection Bone Silence was released in September 2010 by Desperanto, NY. A new collection of his poetry, titled Requiem for One Night, will be published by Desperanto in 2012.

Poems by Peycho Kanev

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