by Jacek Gulla

The idea that a straight line
Progressing ad infinitum bends
And forms a circle came to me
Long after Einstain’s break through

But also long in fourth grade
Before I have heard about him
Eyes shut I followed that run away straight head long
Into the star strewn deep dark Space

Half step on dirt path
Spiky weeds at my knees
With the transparent glass and concrete mass
Of yellow school building

Behind me and the green sport stadium flats
Ahead points A and Z being one
And the same right under my feet the delightfully
All encompassing number Pi holding me

In a thrill Gagarin might have felt
Later that year worried for his return
To Earth yes life is brief
But imagination perceptions know no boundry

Watch with me for a while
How a year later in winter same boy
Picks rocks off a dirt road on his way
To one solitary imperial oak tree far in Hospital rear fields

Thrown at the mighty trunk the rocks
Scare off bare brunches a congress of crows
Sleeping so far birds crow now  
Mad above makeshift landscape

My whole life fits into that scene
With the number Pi glowing intense today
As it did when I bathed in its lumini
Eyes shut half step on the weedy foot path

Man is a dazzling puzzle he will not be held
Apart from himself for long take Pi it is of his invention
Simple operations Pi plus Pi plus Pi
If Pi times Pi is at all possible

Don’t they the Pi’s kind of infuse one with sense
Of boundless strenght Atlas’ capacity
When one moves them in the mind
Dark content far heavier than light

Years of my youth its flat horizontal sun-dial stretched
As far as the world’s tallest smoke stack
In the middle cast its shadow
Shorter in summer it reached no farther than

The Prosectorium its terrifying Dogs’ Tower
Howling in pain year long but winters
Winters the shadow would venture out way past
The Plague Lantern

A medieval turret of stone warning a traveler
He is entering a land of no return if he proceeds
XIV century Cracow had but a church
Sisters of mercy for its living dead

The sloping bent in the Vistula River downstream
Sheltering the Forbidden populace
I threaded these grounds bare foot
A paper glider over head

A sulphites powered projectile in hands
Or with a shovel searching for nooks and crannies
Where to dig family an A-shelter
Or whatever else anything but school

An Apollo of thirteen under spell of the word
Forbidden oh no I was to experience its meaning
Like OEdipus had to live out his oracle
No matter how hard I tried not to

By forbidden I came to underastand inherent potential
Held at a half life maximum wasted
On minimum struggle
Die the least shred of the self glimpsed options only

There within the reaches of the smoke stack shadow
Lived one Miss Maciej single she was a mother
Of two and big with a third one
The hood rallied

The two bullies already on the loose were the limit
The poor woman holding labor back
Until too late for help she is the patron saint
of the Forbidden in you if you feel like

Not that the hood woke up when in agony
Poisoned by dead fetus miss Maciej threw up a heart wreck
Her’s was just another torment to the howls and shrieks
Of the Dogs’ Tower science’s ground experimental

Proletarian folk did they register any one among them
How street troylleys brought perhaps not quite the quiet
Into the hood but a respite from the endless gruesome lament
Thick tired ears cocking to Progress’s jingle



The ageing massive brick wall along Copernicus Street
Holding Death inmate
Our family’s exemplary foursome
Strolled Sundays down its reassuring lenght

On the way to the Botanical Garden
Where Life hung in mid air a one enormous
Breathing knot to apply myself to
A tangle of roots in a diamond shaped orangerie

Palm shoots lianas buds of prey
Atop the tense herculeanum
Of naked muscles
Dripping water in slow drops into small lily pool below

If anything the knot called for tender pruning
No not a sword’s slash
Unless one suffers for real events dreamt
My life as it could have been to the last minute

Invested within the smoke stack shadow’s spectrum
The world of the Copernicus Street
I cannot forgive myself I have orphaned it
With Death safely behind the brick wall

And the Medical Library open and empty
Volumes dating back to the beginnings of science
Me a hearty laughter
Ages long litany of erroneous diagnoses

Offered hope could that be that death itself
Is a curable illness if one were to devote life
To the task and to the gnarled pear tree
Near the Plague Lantern I swore to eat its fruit

Eternity of its harvests my pet project
Would come true the Hospital complex
Along the Copernicus Street now a museum
Of Aesculapius’ arts

The Eye and Ear Clinic past the Planetarium
Featuring medicine’s nemesis
A water fountain live under high voltage
That birds learn not to drink here

Pity the emergency heli port took over
The yard where for centuries Hospitals
Have been discarting used outdated outfits
Medical toolery stretchers plumbing gear

Pain wrought junk grief bitten clasps worn teeth
Given a well deserving exposure
History of gynecological stretch chair
Going back to the days of Holy Inquisition

In the first the oldest pavillon down from the Lantern
For example
Would attest to the suffering
That was to be put an end to for good

Something to do with Infinity flowing circular
Through the number Pi
My way would have had nothing to do
With scalpels or howling dog meat

I am sorry I have orphaned you my plans
One promise though I keep
As every Fall last night again I stood under the pear tree
Fruit in hand tears of gratitude my eyes

Though the tree itself I hear fell under ax
When the viduct near by underwent a face lift
Though the tree itself fell under ax
When the viduct years now underwent a face lift


The land of the Forbidden my youth
Cascet woodshop Laundries
Slopes where to sled eyes shut
Mad house patients behind me yelling Faster Faster

The fortress façade the Contaigues Diseases held up to the sun
Gynecology Chirurgy Labor Clinics Prosectorium Dogs’ Tower
How only appropriate that right next to this vast
Realm of ills and dying

Fin de Siecle decreed a storage be erected
For stage sets the plays at the city theatre leave behind
The tower of Macbeth the boat of Prince Invincible
Life size all but emptied of life save the few wild wings

High under the sky lite roof
St. Petersburg of Evgeny Onegin in snow
The castle of the Ungodly Farse
Balcony and rose bush of Cyrano de Bergerac

Hellada of Electra of Oedipus Rex
Kafka’s Amerika within the walls
Like pages of an enormous book
Inside white brick covers

The store of human tragicomedy aired once in a blue moon
I pressed hard against the silence
Silence so thick so numb past the doorstep
The Lantern’s stones have had more sound to them

Short for time youth is not with eternity I felt
At my disposal I would choose well
Choose the one play set which eventually no regrets
To render real with dying breath

Aghast with furniture set of the going day
D-glow alarm clock and washing machine nothwithstanding
That they should impose on me
Cares of their bidding

Spared no role great or small
The spectacle of life offers say I only grow in wonder
Dear old number Pi to the resque
Its lumini holds this much certain yes no matter how long

It takes matter to come into this particular
Configuration of atoms and stars I call Jacek today
I must no doubt take place again
Pi a myriad times over from now on my Grzegorzki

How wiser though for losing you once before
Oh to be back there again if only for a day for an hour
Within the reaches of the smoke stack’s shadow
Head for crows of the imperial oak tree

That you stay still yes this is I like to think now
Why I had to leave leave for lost
Cities along to change faster then stage props
Hoping my pen endears you to readers here look

I add a patch of your land to the globe sewn immaterial
Overtown every night with memories incomers bring to NYC
Only here and now to realize how infinitely blessed we were
O how blessed whatever stars happened to turn to dear youth