jim nawrocki


Later he told me the mythology of his car,

the big white one he got from his dad

who smoked and drank a lot and owned

a bar called The Pagoda, a bit of Asian kitsch

tucked behind a sunbaked strip mall, where

he’d washed glasses as a kid, and where on slow days

his dad would sometimes pour a line of vodka along the bar

and light it, just so they could watch a second or two

of pure fire before his dad wiped it away with a cloth. 

Even a flame can vanish before leaving its mark

if you erase it fast enough. And so he got the Mercury, 

whose roof leaked so much he had to stuff in towels,  

and sometimes diapers, to stop the rain. It creaked too, 

was as battered as the fabled whale he named it for. 

I met him online – fantasy matched for fantasy, 

and when I saw him for the first time, walking to me

down the hill from where he parked his storied wreck,

I stood in my gate thinking he’s too young, but I stayed.

I must have known his current was the same as mine, each of us

from flat towns where you could always see the horizon.


Jim Nawrocki’s poetry has appeared in Poetry, Kyoto Journal, Nimrod, Chroma Journal, and Mudfish, among others. It’s also been included in the anthologies, The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010) and Art & Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). He wrote for the Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, and lived in San Francisco. Jim passed away in May 2018.