I can be contacted at this address.
From “Trafika”, Number 7 (1999)
translated by W. Martin
an enamelled, black sky unclenches its muzzle
just for a moment, reveals in a flash
its palatal nerve-mass—that’s all. darkness,
the rattle of stone-laden carts, wind.
first raindrops tumble like acrobats
from leaf to leaf of the poplar tree. wide,
quivering in wind. as long as they don’t
fall to the boulevard asphalt, burst in-
to a star, one of the ones that up above
failed to ignite. wind gives wings to
runners, inflates the sails of their backs.
i pedal on, again against the current,
head bowed—stubborn ram—
wind trapped in the tails of my jacket
courses along an exhausted
spine, freezes the heart in a cage—
the pavement and the asphalt call out: you’ve changed
the echo of footsteps against the facades calls out:
you’ve changed. alone in the street, old formulas
refuse the weight. the rope’s decayed.
the first snow attempts to soften the landscape,
struggles a moment with the grey temperature
of sidewalks. it’s thoroughly warm. it turns
to a delicate icing, then wet, then disappears.
by morning the second snow’s wrapped the
bare road in a waistcoat, down the tobbogan runs a sled
could be sliding. draws me back to childhood,
the one zloty coins in my pocket again, benign
penetration of the patient, upright blanket.
what lovely erotica can be penned to God,
to hemp, to wet plums in the fridge
how colorfully the sun reflects from asphalt
how many excellent indentations your body has
how perfectly blood combines with air
how ingeniously those tiny homes have been arranged
what a marvelous gift it is, the moment’s breath
between was and will be.
the wind upends buckets, the baskets’
content spill into the spiral, wide fan
long time since the ships of skyscrapers ploughed
this proudly the billowing atmosphere
i give the elements my heart, calm, high
as heaven; they’re not in the habit
of giving back less.
the road plunges off the plateau, bright
of the Adriatic as an azure bar, trucks
creep up the hill, a quarry on the
slope, dust, Baedekerwise the train tracks
wind among stone fences, around
stony fields, the stone wall of the twelfth-
century church, the field smells blue
and salty, famous dance of death.
arrives at the seashore, the breeze, heat,
and algae rot. ebbtime, the fishmongers’ fish
have leathery eyes. blond Albanians have
apricots, a fresco peels, in the light
the sea carries tugboats, grease, at dusk
swallows the sun's red ball. carries sounds
from the hotel across the bay, a foxtrot,
Trieste as light, the walls cool down.
the first really cold night. yesterday the full-bellied clouds blew in
from over Drammen, and further, from the fjord. just before dawn
i saw how the Bull rose, with one eye brighter,
the same one that watches the moon multiply
into crystals of snow. just before dawn i saw the future,
January skies. the wind bends the branches, hardens to tiny
drops battering the sill. in the morning the water will drip
from the leaves into upheld sleeves, along numbed arms
a chill, rain-washed sky of white glass will lean
over the dark, green branches, just a few pears
remain on the trees. the seasonal workers will leave, we’ll leave
the burgundy barn, the orchard will stay
quiet under the sun’s shortcuts across
the sky, more neglectful every day. in a day
or two i’ll start packing. under my eyelids i already see
my road to Ystad, white ferry, spray from the ash-colored sea.
the splotches left behind by insects are clear light, full of power.
the debris of insects, crushed against the windshields, is clear light.
a river, foaming with potholes, roaring under the truck’s axle, is clear light.
the front and rear axles of the truck, flowing over the congealed river of asphalt, are clear light.
the enormous ploughed field, white with storks taking wing, is clear light.
the pilgrimage advancing by the roadside, nun with a loudspeaker on a wooden pole, are clear light.
pilgrims in slanted strings of rain, the nun with a loudspeaker on a wooden pole, are clear light.
the storks wading over the bronze-colored field, stubble with its face turned to the ground, are clear light.
children selling dusty plums by the roadside, are clear light.
the tight skin of plums under threads of rain, the children clinging to a tree-trunk underneath its dense crown, are clear light.
the dam over the road, the mirror of a pond punctured with needles of rain, are clear light.
the aperture of red sky between the rain and the horizon,
the double row of lime trees escorting wet sand to the horizon,
the reddish glare on wires along the road.
From “Chicago Review / New Polish Writing”, Volume 46 Numbers 3 & 4 (2000)
translated by Tomasz Bieroń (1), W. Martin and Ewa Chruściel (2), Frank L. Vigoda (3)
Good evening, my name is Mickiewicz, I’m
Byelorussian. I was the first in Poland to write like O’Hara,
later I got everything mixed up, started calling my wife
a piece of furniture. for a while
I was thinking of becoming one
with the crude mob shuffling around on the Place de la Concorde
in “Podhale” sneakers. my pride betrayed me and mocked me.
for a while I was thinking of becoming one
with the cosmic tone of the Universe, the spiritual act,
sacredness incarnate. I became a mystical corporal
for possessed paranoiacs wasting night
after night over plastic bottles of six-franc wine
before going to work illegally on the building site at six.
I actually stopped writing. sometimes I tell folktales
about Poland, very moving for the audience, and they pay me, too
I actually stopped writing. something’s floating in the air,
a kind of expectation, when I squint
I can see through heat-quivered air a red
blistered crust of the Earth, dust-covered oxen
pull a cart with huge wooden wheels,
I run the cool path of Manali with a cargo
of hash on my back, a jeep overloaded with smuggled arms
laboriously climbs up a steaming, jungle-overgrown hill,
the Malagasies looking at it indifferently, those black-
at night drums beating and Turkish pipes gurgling wake me up
in the silence I stare at the ceiling, as if I had somewhere to travel to,
as if I was going to catch HIV and die, as if I once flew whole
but now only as soot.
hear! here, tough-stained days
leather fish slither through
criss-crosses of sticks. when’s spring?
the leaves had three days to shoot: and made it!
again wiping snow into concrete since this morning,
plodding spirals. whiteness
and the extravagant frills of fresh leaves
the flashes suck on my eyes. if i stop
inity, isys, osis, and ation will jump on my spine
and crunch. a moist clamor squeezes through
under the seal. we’re in the field
where the slightest momevent
takes on the most importance.
yes, the most importance.
i'm driving backwards, the occiput frontwise, the information twister
twist my skull's ceiling board. shibboleth on the sea shore.
the sand crunches, one day the shaft will break off, the cogs scatter
detached from the matrix. in the meantime crows on the clod field
i support multiple cards and formats. one day they’ll scatter
like teeth in certain nightmares about scurvy.
we should make another appointment, you need to come regularly,
you have a week jawbone that condemns us to Sisyphean labor
meanwhile: using the super-bold, super-hold foam in my dreams
for so many weeks that all the keratin went straight
from the follicles down the hairshafts, a miscalculation of strength,
a total exposure. tearing hair by handfuls, then all of a sudden
cold, the shape of the skull felt under the hand, an ovalness that’s never
seen the sun. and what will you say to that. will you still be able
to love me, will i still be able to love me. will i, after shaving
the head, withdrawing the foam, produce new ones. the cell phone’s beeping
wakes up my in-laws' cute baby. i quickly get dressed in the dark, walk
down into morning’s freezing white, it wraps me, i it, in a jacket.
From: “Carnivorous Boy, Carnivorous Bird”, Zephyr Press, 2004
translated by W. Martin & Ewa Chruściel
you think i haven’t seen those thousands of men
transforming themselves at the start of every shift
into muddy E.T.’s in rubber boots, nonchalantly
punching their time cards, tipping their helmets
to a four-color litograph of Saint Barbara
inside the shaft head. those coal cars on t.v.
are only camouflage (the real purpose of the mines
is never talked about) most of them simply
line up in corridors underground, facing west,
patiently, in three shifts, teetering in place.
(a squirrel running in place sets the wheel in motion)
don’t ask me anymore how it is the Earth revolves.
a walk through snowy woods, the quiet thought
that all of it will probably start up again
wonder who will be chosen for the Jews this time
the frost in my spine when all
the dogs in the village start barking:
paranoia, second sight?
Kraków, 29/1/91—hey you guys! what’s
new with you, because there’s not much
new with me, but maybe you’re up to
something new. since like I said
I’m not up to anything new at all; I’m interested
to know what sort of new stuff is going on with you,
since unfortunately there’s nothing new going on here,
so I’m off to hear what’s new over there
with my friends, but as it turns out,
there’s nothing new going on with them, either,
and they’re asking me what’s new, too,
and unfortunately they’re disillusioned, because
there’s nothing new with me, and I even told them
not with my friends in Buszyn either
there’s not much new going on, so I’m just saying
how my friends, none of whom you know
unfortunately, don’t have anything new to report
either. because it’s important to hear
about what’s new, and not what’s old.
so write and tell me what’s new with you, because
there’s nothing new with me, and nothing
new with them, and not with those guys either,
and even they don’t have anything new to report
so I’m asking you, please, save us all,
tell us there’s still something new
hapening with you, yours truly
Mirek Gonzalez Flokiewicz
Kraków, ul. Krowoderska 57/4a
From “Lyric Poetry Review”, Issue 8 (2005)
translated by Ewa Chruściel
was such that the trees were screaming
the stars at regular intervals
went out and slid down
with a delicate clink
of a glass tapped with a knife
i too look for silence
but would stillness itself
the wind tosses the buckets, fans out
the contents of bins
it’s been a while since sailing ships of high-rises
so proudly cut the stormy sky
i give my heart to the elements, skyhigh
at peace: it’s not their nature to give back
the stains of insects are translucent light, almighty.
the remains of insects splashed on front windows, are translucent light.
the river foaming with bumps and roaring under the axle of the truck, is translucent light.
the front and rear axle of the truck flowing over congealed asphalt river, are translucent light.
huge ploughed field, white with storks getting ready to take off, is translucent light.
a pilgrimage moving on the side of highway, a nun with a bullhorn high on a pole, are translucent light.
pilgrims in slanting ropes of rain, a nun with a bullhorn high on a pole, are translucent light.
storks wading through a brown field, a stubble turned upside down to earth, are translucent light.
children selling dusty plums on the roadside, are translucent light.
the tight skin of plums under the threads of rain, children clinging to a trunk under the thick crown, are translucent light.
the dam above the highway, the mirror of the pond chopped with rain needles, are translucent light.
the fissure of red sky between the rain and the horizon,
two rows of lindens accompanying the wet gravel towards horizon,
reflected red on the wires along the highway.
From “Fence”, Volume 9 Number 2 (2007)
translated by Frank L. Vigoda
pass me a tubajfor, creampuff
hey you’re soft as water,
like melting butter, a total softie
I was ripping out sajding for these eyetalians
when you were still in diapers back in Poland
have you ever seen a house made of tubajfors, creampuff?
pass me a twentypound hammer
we need to move this corner over by an incz
not one angle is straight here
have you ever seen a szitrok wall?
have you ever rubbed in dżoint kompound, creampuff?
have you poured boiling tar on rufing?
modernity swirled below the surface
and punctured the Earth’s skin
with all these skyscrapers
like it or not
but don’t cough on me like that, creampuff
you can cough all the fiberglass out after work
go to dankin donats after midnight they’ll give you
yesterday’s donats six for a dollar
coat your throat with them, it’ll help
you’re a total softie but don’t worry
you’ll learn fast. life is very simple
simpler than you think
you’ll get a gray beard, a kar from the junkyard
and you’ll be giving creampuffs just like you
rides to work.
From “Boston Review”, September/October 2010
translated by Frank L. Vigoda
puff-puff-puff! parading grandpas
on the wet pathway along the community gardens.
clay, soaked sand and mud have long
claimed this place. the pavement barely
shows through from underneath,
faking a city. these vast expanses chopped up
by chain-link fences are really a single common
room. the possibilities of contact are
simply out of this world. Wojtek waits
only for a multicell phone, with a
if you want to call Poland, first call
the time lady in your area to “clear the wires,”
Przylepa taught me this, himself a phone technician
until a few years earlier when we embarked on our budding
careers as berry pickers a.k.a. jordbaer plukkers in Lierbyen.
not that Lierbyen, not that Poland, not that stage
of telephony development. I dial the number, my fingers
slipping towards something simpler, what time is it,
or saying nothing, just listening to the invisible stranger
so that the switches and hooks click
From “Washington Square”, Winter/Spring 2011
translated by Jennifer Croft
Dry sticks, thorns, perhaps old cardboard: tinder.
The sky swelling from the east
was blatantly empty today.
I imagined Mexican cactuses
set out along the side of the road.
But there were no cactuses.
I didn’t have even a single matchbox
in case I needed to light a fire.
Perhaps I love you more than I like you,
I don’t really know how someone could like
sharp, protruding parts that shred
up his insides. Or else:
I like and respect you, but it would take
some kind of spiritual slip of the tongue
to ever trust you again.
Which I’m obviously just telling myself, because I will trust you
at once, and for all. So much of this dust
has gotten into the air filter:
it was supposed to be beige like the wall, but it’s slate
like the skin of a taciturn elephant,
all in the rumbles of the covered sea.