Literary Orphans

DOSTOYEVSKY & Two Other Poems by John Raffetto

stationary_by_Jan Rockar


Is nostalgia

the material and concrete

days before hell

a respite

an illusion or trickster coyote

lost in clouds and mist.


Is nostalgia

an anchor or heavy burden

a cry for help

the setting sun

locked into a

permanent horizon.


Is nostalgia

a rhythm of song

a cocked eye on

a twisted smile

a time before time

the beginning or end.


Is nostalgia

the hinge on the door

of perception

transcending lost souls

riding a small raft


Is nostalgia

a pitiful island

a castle

a corner tavern

or a broken record

spinning off the turntable

the mighty cause defeated.


Is nostalgia

a past sun

calm between waves

the memory of a ghost train

jumping the tracks

a detour with

flashing lights.


Is nostalgia

an empty closet

once filled with jewels

a fortress of mosaics

a midnight mirage

of sleepless villages

torn by endless plagues


Is nostalgia

a solo bus ride into

a blizzard

a post traumatic hypochondria

dragging of knuckles

in a concrete tunnel


Is nostalgia

what never was

a finger in the eye

blinding a shepherd

finding his lost flock


Is nostalgia

really nostalgic

or the future

when solar rays dissolve

as earth becomes cooler

life dwindles

before the eventual

cosmic blast

returns to

the moment.

O Typekey Divider


I was talking to Dostoyevsky

about the revolution

he laughed

and banged his fist upon the table

`bourgeois, god-damn bourgeois’

the sad man spewed,

`Lenin was queer,

Gogol a fraud,

and James Joyce a drunk Irish prick’


I told him your stories are too long

too depressing

too much sorrow

`bourgeois, god-damn bourgeois’

he bellowed.


`Chekov was a Muslim,

Hemingway a communist

all the rest fake intelligence’


He tipped over the table

spilling cheap vodka

and stained papers.

There are no answers or easy conclusions

to the Czar and his army


`bourgeois, I am a god-damn bourgeois’

he sighed.

O Typekey Divider


The dead sometimes

are dying for years

buried at sea or in

a wooden coffin

or burned unrecognizably

ashes to ashes

at 800 degrees.


Undertakers smile at frozen years

as buzzards fly

among clouds long corridor

ending abruptly

vanished in a short span.


A rocky boat follows the north star

only to succumb to toxic fumes or

a quick hand

a gun

a blade

politically poisoned

on a abandoned dirt road,

decapitated with a laugh

all cries silenced.



please no children

snuffed out before introductions

a family of headstones

lined upright beyond the horizon

where the sun sets

golden orange

fading into shades of black.


The rattle comes slowly for some

mirrors under the nose

pennies on the eyes

fear of the last breath

while remembering

when times were good.

O Typekey Divider

A lifelong resident of Chicago.

Some of his poetry has been published in print and various online magazines. Has been writing poetry for over 30 years. Currently has an online poetry site Bongo Wilderness Poetry.

Holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Northeastern Illinois University. Worked as a horticulturalist and landscape designer for many years at the Chicago Park District.   Currently a adjunct professor at Triton College.


O Typekey Divider

–Art by Jan Rockar

–Art by Plamen Stoev

–Art by Joel Hohner