about the author

Karolina Manko is the patron saint of naps. She enjoys obsessively watching The Food Network and perusing used-book bins. You can follow her on Twitter at k_manks.

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What War Wipes Clean

Karolina Manko

for Czeslaw Milosz

Gone. Whole country.
Gone. Bird nest in summer.
Gone. Not yet empty. Tongues

left praying. A pointless movement
in the dark. Lighthouse.
against hurricane. That final gasp.

Tongues pressing into other
tongues out of fear. Instinct
to self-preserve.

War wipes clean all realism.
Leaves a bad magic. Ends all
stories in the middle.

“Who will honor the city without a name?”

Gone. Whole country.
Gone. Unmarked grave
like ocean eating ocean.
All borders, intangible.

Not yet empty. Never, in fact.
Still brimming with bodies.
Not yet dead. Not gone.


    Not forgotten.

       Talked about
like stars gone cold—
only as piece
to a greater,


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