david kozinski

What You Want by David Kozinski

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What You Want
To not wish for much
in the decorating days of October
is to receive even less
than what fits in a coke spoon
and little remains for the gleaning
when December steps down into darkness.
Raised expectation is a processional;
a strand of children two by two
red-robed and matched by height
marching in hesitation step;
and along the way
more rises and falls – a ball tossed
one foot ahead and caught
on the bounce.
Fail and fall better the prophet scribed
on the side of a barrel. Pages are littered
with junkyard wealth –
a tire slung over the creek
that gleaming mornings glanced past,
chipped gems of Chambord and Crown Royal,
rusted runners that brought Rosebud to thirsting lips,
a spade that dug for loot in punishing soil
and struck something cold and smooth as a bullet
but brings up the wisdom of worms.
DPK head shot
.David P. Kozinski was a finalist for the Inlandia Institute’s Hillary Gravendyke Prize. I Hear It the Way I Want It to Be was published this year by Kelsay Books. He is Rockwood Park and Museum’s Resident Poet. Kozinski was the 2018 Delaware Division of the Arts Established Professional Poetry Fellow. Publications include Tripping Over Memorial Day (Kelsay Books) and Loopholes (Broadkill Press) which won the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize. He serves on the boards of the Eastern Shore Writers Association, the Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center and the Editorial Board of Philadelphia Stories magazine, and is Art Editor for Schuylkill Valley Journal.

I Hear It the Way I want It to Be by David P. Kozinski

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David P. Kozinski’s, I Hear It the Way I Want It to Be, is seventy-nine pages of modern-themed poems divided into three parts. Kozinski explores universal themes of loss, love and regret with contemporary twists and subtitles (quotes) from well -known writers such as Jimi Hendrix, Mark Twain and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
On page twelve and thirteen, he presents his title poem I Hear It the Way I Want It to Be.  Kozinski takes the reader back to when he was in sixth grade and references boys of his age during Dickens’ time who were factory workers creating figures for chess, sometimes endangering their digits. Sixth grade is an age of both innocence and becoming aware. He says he and his friends were coddled and soft studying fractions and a map- changing Europe. Then the poem changes and the viewpoint in the three-stanza poem switches to a more mature view. The final lines read:
          But from somewhere far above
          and not too far in the future
          I felt the squeeze coming—
         to manufacture a more amusing game,
         a better strategy for knocking down kings.
Sixth grade is pivotal in the phases of growing up. The poem shows this by moving from the production of pieces for a game to implied real-life understanding of war. The poem is successful in presenting, in common language, the complexity of time frames, place, and situation.
In the poem Find and Seek on page twenty-nine, Kozinski speaks of another kind of change in one’s life. In repeating the words, I call for you in the first three stanzas of the six- stanza poem, Kozinski has set the tone and mood of loss and details where the you is and cannot answer. The you is in the yard—then in her sick bed. He skillfully changes the phrase from I call you to I call for you to I call out for you. The poem clarifies in the third stanza.
          I call out for you
         And you are there for me
         until you are not.
The last two stanzas detail the narrator discovering the many doors in his house after his loss and says it is in a dimming light.  He closes the poem trying to make the past real by remembering the smell of her perfume and the touch of her skin. but succeeds only in memory.  He again calls out: I called to you at dusk and again this morning. She comes but the final stanza reveals it is not real.
          I called out a warning, a prophecy
          and it was a claim cordoned off
          and conveyed, an alias
           of ill-fitting clothes.
 His images in this poem are strong and although low key and controlled, carry intense emotion which is clearly felt.
Kozinski’s final poem, Planet of the Uncluttered Mind, makes a comment on the writing of poems and his attitude toward it. I find it funny.
         There is a distant place
         where the one-word poem is highly valued.
We can skip the two stanzas in between for you to read later.  The last line reads: I’m not going there.
Although Kozinski’s poems are generally of medium length, some run onto the next page which weakens the power of his words when the reader thinks the poem has ended when it has not. This is just a layout criticism and not about the wonderful work he has produced.  The poems are sophisticated and layered with meaning. They are a pleasure to read and to think about.
Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.

Readers Picks For The Holidays

Looking for that special book for a holiday present? Here are the top 10 books based on readership at North of Oxford for 2017 as of November.


Magnesium by Ray Buckley



Guess and Check by Thaddeus Rutkowski


Martin Fierro - Jose Hernandez

Martin Fierro by Jose Hernandez



Shoot the Messenger by John Dorsey



100 Selected Poems by e.e. cummings


f h

Seek the Holy Dark by Clare L. Martin



Justine by Lawrence Durrell



Unmaking Atoms by Magdalena Ball


the way back

The Way Back by Joyce Meyers



Bird Flying through the Banquet by Judy Kronenfeld




The Way Back by Joyce Meyers

the way back
Review by David P. Kozinski
The title of Joyce Meyers’ first full-length book of poems points to the various journeys that the contents convey. The Way Back (Kelsay Books) presents tableaux of travels to other lands, through history and life’s challenges in language that is mostly spare and straightforward and always elegantly rendered.
The book begins where life on Earth began, in “Water”, then touches on evolution in “Darwin’s Finches” and “Beginnings” and sojourns briefly in ancient history, as well as in the studios and lives of artists like Michelangelo and Frida Kahlo. Meyers explores family history and relationships, celebrations of life and the challenges of aging and facing death, nature and the threatened environment with clarity and precision, through a consciousness well aware of the ephemeral nature of everything we can see and touch, cherish and imagine.
The personal and specific lead the reader to contemplations of universal subjects, with careful attention to the music of words. The first stanza of “Cooking School” reads
                        Here you learn to peel
                        yourself like an onion. Start
                        with the skin, translucent,
                        crisp as parchment.
Later, the Tuscan chef guides the narrator’s fingers, “as I shape the pasta dough / in the shadow / of my mother’s hands.” Her mother, aging and frail, waits far away, “hands fluttering in her lap / like broken wings.” In “Nursing Home” the narrator surprises her mother with a plate of shrimp cocktail and olives. The poem concludes
                        Too much, she says
                        before she eats it all.
                        When we wheel her back
                        to the day room, she grabs
                        my hand and won’t let go.
The strong sentiments, familiar to those who have experienced parents’ decline, are deftly conveyed through images of hands and without sentimentality.
“Impermanence” is both the title of a poem in The Way Back and a theme that streams through it. The poem begins, “opening the door to morning / the sky rinsed clean // the shroud of grief lifted / by the wind” and touches on the cycles that have long fascinated scientist and poet alike: “yet you were once / a mountain, a star // and will be again.”
Poems like “Aubergine” and “Ajar” deal with the nature of existence – its impermanence and fragility. In the former, we find the narrator preparing ratatouille on a winter morning with Mozart playing on the radio, but are abruptly pulled from the tranquil scene in the second stanza, which presents a neighbor, assaulted by her son, facing, “a choice between his intolerable behavior / and the impossible side effects / of the only drug known to control it.”  The contrast of the two stanzas is echoed within the end of the second, starting with violence in Israel and “a glimpse / of how it will be when that tinder box ignites,” and concludes by letting us know that, during that same week, the narrator “fell in love again / and again with my husband.” Despite living in a world that knows much horror and sorrow, she will serve the ratatouille to her grandson, hoping it will help him forget for a while his parents’ divorce and later, practice dance steps she and her husband are learning as, “We take our nourishment where we can.”
Set at the end of December, “Ajar” offers an image of a door that may be “opening or closing, / poised to shut in or set free.” The third-person narrator notes how
                        … A new year
                        waits like a two-headed
god hovering undecided
which way to turn, like words
that would change everything
yet hang unsaid …
In a dynamic world, nothing is as fixed and clear as we might wish it.
                        … We think we know
                        what we are. A river
                        caught by a camera will never
                        be that river again …
The poet leads us through her husband’s successful bout with cancer, through eye-opening travels to Russia, Kenya and Thailand, and arrives at “East”:
                        I keep going east,
                        pulled toward the place
                        where morning springs,
                        where the sun sleeps at night.
The journey proceeds from place to place and through time, “past ancient monuments / to ego and engineering,” and past China’s Great Wall – a wonder of the world that nevertheless could not resist the world’s intrusions. Seeking wisdom, the narrator wants “to follow the sun back / and back, all the way / to its mother’s womb, bow / to her in gratitude for light // and warmth…” She longs to ask this mother, “why stars and species // must be born to die,” and why nothing “travels faster than light / but thought,” and “what happened / before time began.”
Many poets have tackled important subjects, and some have been able to do so while balancing the extremes of experience with the quotidian, but few have the ability to illuminate the profound with such concision, and through such original and natural-sounding language. Meyers accomplishes this and more in The Way Back. The poems resonate long after the book is closed.
David P. Kozinski’s first full-length book of poems, Tripping Over Memorial Day (Kelsay Books) was published in January. He won the Delaware Literary Connection’s 2015 spring poetry contest and the Seventh Annual Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, which included publication of his chapbook, Loopholes. Publications include Apiary, Cheat River Review, Philadelphia Stories, Rasputin.