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John Rybicki

John Rybicki

John Rybicki was born and raised in Detroit. He has since lived and worked on farms in southwestern Michigan near the small towns of Vicksburg, Grand Junction, and Richland. His poems have appeared in The Quarterly, Poetry East, New York Quarterly, Alaska Quarterly, and Caliban. He is the author of Traveling at High Speeds and a chapbook, Yellow-Haired Girl with Spider. His second book of poems, We Bed Down into Water, was published by Northwestern/Triquarterly in 2008.

Also by John Rybicki

 

 

 

 

Traveling at High Speeds

Traveling at High Speeds  Traveling at High Speeds

2nd Expanded Edition
Foreword by Rick Bass

$14.00 paper | 65 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-930974-35-7
Publication Date: Fall 2003
Buy: Amazon.com

An Inland Seas Poetry Book

The kinetic energy of John Rybicki’s poems is his unmistakable signature. His poem “Traveling at High Speeds” opens with the lines, “Some night my body takes the shape of this city.” That urban shape is the shape of John Rybicki’s poetry as well. The city in question is, of course, Detroit, but whether Detroit itself is the subject—as it is in many of his poems—or not, the cadence of its streets informs the slashing attack of Rybicki’s vivid language.

“John Rybicki is the kind of poet whose individual poems seem like autobiographical fragments still hurtling apart from some personal Big Bang. His roots are working-class and he’s worked with juvenile delinquents, emotionally impaired children, mentally impaired adults; he’s worked on farms, run a historic grist mill, and tutored in prison. These experiences collide like charged particles in his poems, and yet one senses behind the bursts of fragmentation a unity of perception and deeply considered emotion.“
         —Stuart Dybek

“John Rybicki ignites the page. His vital, urgent poems celebrate pleasures some would call—mistakenly—small. Or, as in 'Asthma,' brilliant metaphor underscores the visceral fear of being trapped in one’s own body. I have copied out lines from his poems and kept them on my desk for years; I needed them that close by.”
         —Amy Hempel

“John Rybicki has a hurricane-heart, a hammer-heart, that is just waiting to be unleashed upon this perhaps-undeserving world.”
         —Rick Bass

“Rybicki is so personally intense that, once, while he was out jogging, he figured out how to finish a poem and was so jazzed that he scratched the poem on the road asphalt with a stone! Buy this book by a frequent contributor to the NAR now that this seven-year-old poetry collection is getting new life—a tribute to Rybicki’s fire and breath.”
         —Vince Gotera, North American Review

Poem

I am Mad and This is How I Dance


I wheel my bed into the yard,
stand it upright, braced on all sides
by ropes. I am too small to house skies,
bat-winged angels drunk on tar,
dogs scraping their tongues
against pavement. My veins
finger through cement
until they find grass, Irish fields
of winter wheat.

What a strange curse to be God,
stuffed with blood and poked
with so many holes.
I need no priest.
I roll my long hands out
to the rag people whose fingers
lace up through sewer lids,
spines hunched in a room
below ground.

I want to let go of it,
believe me.
My bones are too small to arch around it.
But it is morning and I am featherless,
black-lunged from a night in long tunnels.
The light has me by the hands,
is dragging me into its fire.