I was born the third child on the third day, the third Walter in the line of familial redundancy. Not a junior, not a numeral, and after my father’s funeral, the last Walter standing. No three-star General commanding multitudes of minions. Just a man with a penchant for poetry, be they tercets or haiku, I am true to the test of three.

A third birthday was ushered in by the death of three, rocking my world at an early age. Holly, Valens and Richardson – mother’s sons all, taking the fall in a stormy Iowa sky. I don’t remember if I cried, but the music died all the same. Later the same year we saw the first of three Walter’s perish and a cherished name was diminished by one, survived by two “sons”. Three seems to be my number, lucky or not, but it’s gotten me this far in the line of three.

The trinity guides
and provides me a purpose,
three steps onward

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2020

dVerse Haibun Monday – Birthday 


“His mind’s not right” my mother would say,
and my father was apt to agree.
“He keeps to himself too much in a way“,
a strange little man there, you see.

And my father was apt to agree,
that something inside his boy festered,
a strange little man there, you see,
who loves to keep darkly sequestered.

That something inside their boy festered,
certainly was not the issue,
“Who loves to keep darkly sequestered?”
mother asked as she reached for a tissue.

Certainly, was not the issue
that my mind worked in mysterious ways?
Mother asked as she reached for a tissue,
“Where does that boy go to these days?”

Yes, my mind worked in mysterious ways
but, deep in my thoughts there was action.
Where does that boy go to these days,
was a quest for some self-satisfaction.

Deep in my thoughts there was action,
my pen at a feverish pitch,
this quest for some self satisfaction
would placate my poetic itch.

My pen at a feverish pitch
to pen pantoum and other such poems,
would placate my poetic itch,
“If they read what I write, they would know them”

To pen pantoum and other poetry?
“His mind’s not right” they would say.
If they read what I write, they would know me.
I kept to myself too much in a way.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik – 2019

Offered at dVerse Poets Pub – A Piece of Written Art


No one knows.
And the best kept secret remains as such.
How much is it worth to know things
that your heart can confirm,
but you can not communicate,
this declaration of fact lies hidden.
Distance spanned and water
under the bridge between then and now.
How do you live a life with this burden?
They couldn’t know; you gave no indications,
your stagnation and debilitating fear
brought you here with nary a lead.
But indeed, you have known.
You will carry it until you’ll have grown
feeble and cold, just an infarction from
the chill’s permanence; it hides in residence.
Do you declare to the world and hope the rooftops
can handle your exuberance,
your happy dance long buried?
This fact prompts you to wonder
that if under this guise you can reprise
what your heart conceals; the real feel of its mystery,
your history until now untold and you let the story unfold.
Touching secrets with probing fingers,
the memory lingers. You held the best vantage point
in the room to see all before you,
a chance at a glance always revealed.
Though you were in close proximity,
you chose to let fear dictate and seal your fate.
Never a clue did you expose. You chose to fade,
finding comfort in your invisibility. Indignantly,
you held your nerve and your secret this long.
It can’t be wrong to release your burden and breathe again.
No one knows.
You wonder if your existence evaded detection then.
You are certain that it does now.
Unseen for all these years, no one could know.
Your memories melt flowing onto a page
as you engage your feelings.
Poems written of your smitten past,
and at last you come clean.
I mean, really, it’s not as if these poems will ever be seen.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik – 2018


Visions secured in
heart tattoos of Technicolor.
Kodachrome kept
in the vault of your mind;
mega-pixels held for posterity,
photographs with a memory.
Bringing joys long festered,
sequestered deeply within.
Sorrows of many lost
tomorrows preserved
in faces and places
of loves long gone.
And somewhere, there is
a flash of brilliance
illuminating the shadows.
You choose this moment to
preserve. It deserves a revered space.
Your snap decision is precise.
These memories will live in photographs.

© Walter J. Wojtanik


We don’t talk much lately.
Our ways have become separate
and it seems every desperate time
brings you to mind, remembering
how you lightened my heart
and I would start felling better.
Even though we are not together,
I thought about you!

Your face is a constant memory,
an etching on my mind, and I find
your smile still placates my soul.
I loses control when it graces me
and it places me near you,
even though we are not together.
My heart is light as a feather.
I thought about you!

I don’t know if my admission
puts you in an awkward position,
but the condition of my heart
will not let me part fully.
You are duly in my sights.
Even though we are not together, I miss you
tonight and every night. You’re out of sight but
I thought about you.

Your eyes have burned you into my being
and I am seeing you in everything I do.
It is true we’ve put more distance
in our distance, but at every chance
you resurrect in my memory, touching
my heart and my soul and my mind.
It must be some sort of sign…
I thought about you!

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2017


I’ll sit remembering
when another cold December
rings in the next new year,
and I’ll be right here with memories
saved for posterity. Photographs
and video tapes will fill the gaps
left behind and my mind will be
placated. We’ve debated whether
we’d want to watch without the other,
but the burden of a life voided
leaves this gap which is unbearable.
I envision scraps of magnetic medium
strewn on the table where splices would
tell the perfect tale. But it would fail recounting
the true story we’ve written, two loving combatants
smitten with the other and fighting for and throughout
our lives. Then when these memories escape,
I’ll find you again when I go to the tape.

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

Poetic Asides November Chapbook Challenge – Day 25: TAPE


So many scents I could imagine
from visions in my memory,
days removed from years long past.
They go by faster now, curiously –

furiously trying to keep track
and hearkening back to a childhood
home. Three generations left their mark
and the stark reality remains,

it is no longer ours. But the years
had been kind and I find myself
reminiscing and kissing fond thoughts
lightly. Brightly color flashes

rehashed for posterity.
With clarity, I remember my grandfather,
immigrant of Polish decent,
sent to a new land to dream of becoming

one of his new compatriots;
assimilating to new customs and language
in an age where opportunity knocks
to build a life and a community.

A stoic figure, cigar clenched between
gold teeth and leathery lips,
a man of the land in a new place,
aromatic vapors wafting around his face.

My grandmother, American born,
sworn to marry and care for the man
whom her recently deceased sister had married.
She carried on to raise her “niece-daughter”,

and my mother and her brother
with the flavorful flare of traditional
Polish fare my grandfather had missed
from the old country. No sundry task,

the kitchen was the heart of their home,
contributing a fragrance it hasn’t seen since
my mother, through recipes passed down
had found their way into our childhood home.

At my grandmother’s passing, she was viewed
in our parlor, a pallor coloring my grandfather’s face,
and our place I am told, would hold the odor of cigars and whiskey,
perfumes and death, with us wondering why Grandma

never woke up. It was tough to recall all the unanswered
questions of an early age, with no sage advice,
to suffice a curious child. But through it all, my grandfather
retained his gilded smile and after a while we grew

to accept her absence. Getting a chance to spend time
with him, I’m certain he has influenced me through
his work ethic and profound patriotism for his adopted home.
Every day was a workday. Although retired he was mired

in his garden and yard. He worked hard and I helped
and felt how much I wanted to be like him.
He would smell like the soil in which he toiled,
so I would learn, and burnt leaves and tree branches.

And “by chance”, I would find treasures of silver
and folded paper where I had none. When work was done,
we’d sit on his bench and admire our handiwork.
And those moments would lurk in my memory all these years.

I recall the tears when his aromatic stogie left unattended,
would end up between the cushions on his couch,
rendering it burnt beyond usefulness, and sending my nose
to the same fate. After that day, my ability to smell went away

(and stays vacated to this day). So many scents
I would imagine from visions in my memory.
Days removed from years long past, they go by faster.
Now, it’s no wonder how curiosity brings me home!

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

Prompted by dVerse Poets Pub – Tuesday Poetics: Empire of Scents


He stood on the front porch with morning as a new promise.
The mist of dew’s bated breath hung above the grass
as sips of his molten brew stimulated his heart.

This was the part that took the most out of him,
for he knew the feeling that was still asleep
and could not be awakened or aroused easily.

Looking out, he saw the tendrils of light lifting
over the distant ridge, a bridge between dreams
and heartbreak – and he aches a little with each

rise of his chest. He was a mess, and he knew it.
If he could eschew these thoughts he would,
but he also knew it would do no good.

The brilliance of the emerging sun possessed him
as much as her bright light held his passion.
It would keep from crashing down around him

and the memory of her flame fortified
the fire that burned warmly in his heart.
It wasn’t much, but it was a start.

The birds too were awakening, and there was no mistaking
their song. It was a strong prelude on this multi-hued
morn. It was born of love and hope, and he could cope

with whatever the day wrought. It ought to be good.
He would sip again and savor the flavor of lips
once pressed against this same cup, an interruption

most welcomed and desired. Again it stoked the fire.
A deep breath filled his lungs and he held it in,
recalling the scent of her as the same fresh

and exhilarating sniff. It was as if she was standing there
against his scarred shoulder, drawing her strength
from his worn and tired physique. But his psyche

needed mending because it was sending these signals
of glad sadness. An unbalanced madness festered
in love and disdain, an old refrain they had reconciled

years earlier. And in it, he just got more assured.
It was pure, these feelings, melancholy as they were,
for it was her who had saved him. It was her whim that

resurrected him; it protected him in ways he thought
no one ever could or would, but she did.
She hid it well, much the same as the rabbits that pocked

the field across the way when they came out to play.
Their furry tenderness blended in well to stave off this hell
that festered and pestered his heart. She loved their

timidity and guarded adventurism, they explored
the way her heart had searched for its mate.
Guarded and tentative, a preventative to heartache

and breakage. She had staked everything by offering
her smiles and womanly wiles to his dark and brooding
moods. She became the sunshine that bathed his face

and lifted his spirits, and her voice as he’d hear it
in the trill of the sparrows at play. It was their Anniversary day. A day when distant hearts are perfected

and reflect on lasting connections offered in breaths and sighs,
sunlit skies. Birds heard in the songs that lived within.
That silly grin when the bunnies leaped and danced,

and she had pranced through his life unabashed
and confident. She knew what it meant to be loved.
Cup nearly drained and a faint sound approaching

encroaching on this solitude, but not intruding.
He heard the door’s creaking yawn and his eyes were drawn
to the vision that graced him. Her face was angelic,

her blonde hair thick and disheveled; a devilish look in her eye.
She offered another shot from the bottom of the pot;
a new cup with a bright red heart right below where

his lips kissed. In the morning mist they were complete.
She had re-awakened to his new day. He had nothing left to say
but a deep “good morning” and he watched her yawning arms

stretch to hug the world. His girl never strayed. She stayed.
Reminders notwithstanding, she had been quietly demanding
his attention, not to mention his love, for above all else, he did.

He loved her more each day.
And today was their Anniversary day!

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

Poetic Asides April Poem-A-Day Challenge – Day 26: “Love Poem”


It took us forty years to come this far,
forty years past the bar.
Familiar faces,a place held in memory,
not lost on ones who desire
another chance to glance
at the years gone by so far,
forty years past the bar.
Friends solidified, the wide eyed
curious, furious that connections
took so long to close. Long ago indiscretions
leave no scars forty years past he bar.
Meeting like old times, greetings
that lingered sometimes longer than others,
sisters and brothers of long lost mothers
reunited to reignite the home fires.
The desire for that long last look that took
forty years. Past the bar, there we are
where youth had left us, bereft of fears
to face our years in order to return
to where we had learned of life and truth.
Someone left the door ajar to allow us
access to here where we are, forty years after the bar.
A celebration rediscovered, brushing past
crushes and friends who now somehow see through
to the you long hidden, given the chance to be
one of the many to return. Right on par
the Class of ’74 – forty years after the bar.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik, 2014

The 40th reunion of Lackawanna High School Class of 1974 held at J’s White Elephant, rekindles the home fires of classmates and friends confirming the fact that we remain connected in heart spirit and mind. A good thing to find forty years after.


I found your number.
The note was tattered,
the ink was smeared.
It was written in your hand.

I remember the circumstance
of our meeting; your greeting
was bold, brassy. I responded
in my shy way, and to this day

I remember the scent of your perfume.
Your cocoa eyes were piercing,
you toothy grin, disarming.
It is not so alarming, I know.

You didn’t walk as much as you bounced,
and every ounce of you exuded a joy
that this bespectacled boy grew
to depend upon. It was on our second date

that I knew it was you, my love so true.
A waif of womanly wile, and did I mention
that smile? Thin and lanky, auburn hair
and fair, freckled skin, silky to touch

and so much to desire. You sparked a fire
that smolders all these years later.
You struggled with your demons,
(don’t we all struggle?) and you let them vex you.

Your anorexia would hex you and perplex me,
I couldn’t see your thinking, and I had a sinking
feeling your healing would be hard to achieve
until I would leave you to fight for your life.

I wished you could have ended up my wife,
but all I have are memories and this piece of page,
weathered and aged. I dialed the digits on a whim.
I knew you were gone. I left a message again.

“Hi, this is me. I wanted to see if the number worked.
I was such a jerk to have left you, to be bereft you
and your beauty. You were my Auburn cutie, my love.
I miss you and wish your were…BEEEEEEEEP!

(C) Copyright Walter J Wojtanik – 2014