Adalbert Czaptieonesz

ge: 51

Nationality/Place of Origin: Poland

Description: Catholic

Cause of Death: Cut his throat because of extreme poverty


Sew me into the dirt in pieces

beside the potatoes and beets.

Pay the debtors with the next harvest.


Do not trouble my wife.


Do not trouble my sons.


They are blameless.


Strew me in the furrows at night

after the crows go to sleep.


This labor cannot be witnessed

by sun or any friend.


Tamp the dirt over my flesh

using my last pair of boots.


My people once owned the mountains.

Then we ran down with the thaw,

my forefathers drinking

more potatoes than they grew.

Now the few of us left

are folded under the valley’s skin.

The shadow of the mountain

always over us.


Feed me back to this valley.


I left my wife and sons,

pale as tubers in the cottage,

warmed by fire from branches

stolen from the orchard.

Their bones wash up under their skin

like saplings in a flood plain.


Their names are the last

words I speak

before I open my throat

a different way, offer

a poor man’s wine

to the rich man’s soil.


Although a resident of northeast Georgia, Michelle Castleberry enjoys visiting Philadelphia whenever possible. She is working on a series of poems based on the Hyrtl Skull Collection from the M?tter Museum. Her first book is Dissecting the Angel and Other Poems