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Issue 3.2

Summer 2023

Robert Guzikowski 


I wrote many of the Aphasia Poems as thoughts on navigating aphasia for myself and others with the condition. The poems take as inspiration the pith instructions of the Lojong mind training tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Atisha (982–1054 CE) originated the practice. Several significant Tibetan Buddhist teachers developed versions of it. Chekawa Yeshe Dorje’s (1102–1176) slogans are the most common basis for commentary. The tradition continues robustly into the present. An illustrative slogan is: Be grateful to everyone. I begin each of the four stanzas with a slogan-like phrase followed by an auto-commentary.


"Aphasia Poem 21," and many other Aphasia Poems, originated with a “poetry attack.” Waking up from a sound sleep, I have the experience of language attacking me. The only way to defend myself is to transcribe rather than compose the core language of the poem. I regard such poems as truly surrealistic that reflect its philosophy. The poem’s word play comes from this.


The poem is also a meditation on language itself. It explores self and world in the word, and what happens when producing words is difficult to impossible.

Aphasia Poem 21


revelate every word

body as if every word becomes

awareness itself aware itself


gyrate every body

word self as if it becomes every

word speaking self-aware selflessness


articulate every

body word body as if every

word becomes every body


noctilucinate word

lesion cloud body as if every

word’s intracranial gleaming speaks


celebrate word bodies unexplained

abandon aphasia banish blame

Robert Guzikowski published work in the1970’s and 80’s in several magazines including Grub Street (Bronx, NY), Letters and Tightrope.  He co-edited The Parlor City Review.  In the 1990s he had encephalitis which caused brain damage resulting in various disabling conditions including aphasia. He has since resumed writing. His book, A Scattering of Words, is one of the winners of the UnCollected Press 2023 Book Publication Contest to be published in 2023. Some of this recent work has been previously published in Kissing Dynamite, The Raw Art Review, Rogue Agent, Wild Roof Journal, Concision Poetry Journal, Full Mood, Anti-Heroin Chic, HOLE IN THE HEAD re:VIEW and Fig:ment.

Bob's Book Recommendations

Training the Mind  by Chogyam Trungpa

Lucy Church Amiably by Gertrude Stein

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