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Grzegorz Wróblewski

Eight poems

Red Polka-Dot Dress

Why have they spilled the milk again? I’m so tired…
Surely something must have happened to my mother—she complains.

What do you need then, maybe you’d like to take a ride
to the forest with me?

My heart is failing me and I can constantly hear my mother’s cry
 — she ignores my proposal.

All right! Then you have to get on by yourself,
see you, take care and so on.

Then, already in the hall, pricks of conscience seize me.
I go back and ask if she doesn’t want to go with me somewhere after all.

She starts anew: Surely something must have happened to my mother, constantly
I can hear her cry, where is my mother now?

When I run away again, she, offended, pounds her fists on the walls.
(I promise myself we’ll never meet again.)

A few days later once more, I sit on the edge of her metal bed.
She’s breathing heavily.

She claims that they have spilled her milk again and that soon she’ll go
to meet her Maker.

As usual I propose a ride to the forest,
and suddenly she says:

All right, wait a minute, I’ll just put on my red
polka-dot dress.

Translated by Adam Zdrodowski & Joel Leonard Katz.

The Time of Awakened Poets

Why don’t we love each other any more,
What have we got left after all these years?
Such sad songs I hear

The poets, the poets wake up and knock
On the windows as winter comes.
When I fall asleep,
They start to sob loudly.

Translated by Adam Zdrodowski & Joel Leonard Katz.

The Porter and the Lavender

He glances as I enter the empty hotel.
“What’s up?”, he asks.
“The moon is a swindler”, I say.
“Did you lose two hundred at cards again?”, he hands me the keys.
His little finger travels again to his hairy ear.

He leans over a yesterday newspaper.
He yawns.
He wants nothing from me.
Nor do I from him.
(Will I ever get the chance to meet Georges Charpentier?)

Those lonely porters, gamblers, lost conquerors of rich widows
and oceans — how they resemble one another!
They always smell of lavender.
They can’t afford anything else.

They know one another inside out and in secret hate.
They can’t afford anything else.

Translated by Adam Zdrodowski & Joel Leonard Katz.

On the Milky Way

What joy not to do anything!
To avoid those who deliver letters or earn money by counting

Caressing a stray Alsatian, I’m looking into his
cunning eyes.
He understands me perfectly.

He doesn’t have to hunt ducks and nobody teases him with a rubber
Just like me, he’s resting among the mindless

He thinks he has understood his short mission.

Translated by Adam Zdrodowski.

High Tide

Our birds are already circling above someone else.
You’re right, we pay too high taxes,
and the sky has unexpectedly lost depth.
The birds quickly figured out…

(Your cold hand is touching my dry
skin.) Did I make love to you only thanks to
full dentition and five-fingered

Translated by Adam Zdrodowski.

Kites on Primrose Hill

My wife is falling asleep nicely (and surely she’s wriggling about because of the full moon
as usual it’s me who is to blame together with
the mentally unbalanced moon)
she’s falling asleep nicely and she’s thinking only about me
just like me
me too I’m thinking only…
she’s falling asleep close to the kites on Primrose Hill, somewhere near the ghosts of Stevenson
and Keats (people stopped reading
there’s been a transformation of homo novus
it’s even worse than it was
it’s the same as always)
I know well she’s falling asleep, I can feel it under my skin (Constable, too, was wriggling about there
but is there anyone in my Copenhagen hole who knows who he was —
we’re an exemplary couple
(Primrose Hill has a definite advantage over Christiashavn
because kites, kites are a very interesting form of spending… )
we spent many holidays together and we played cards (my wife
hates to play cards, she considers it, rightly so, a vulgar way
of spending time, even though poker differs fundamentally… )
and we read the classics aloud to each other, though the classics
bored us stiff and
we never had time for the lyre, the classics
and the cards, because there were, it seems, other necessities
wreaths, does anybody at all read the classics
probably not
everybody pretends, just like the moon
the moon doesn’t spend time with them either
I admit never in my life have I come across a unicorn
(they didn’t recognise Keats, fools), I’m falling asleep and I’m thinking only about her
I am to blame for evevything……

Translated by Adam Zdrodowski & Joel Leonard Katz.

Mister Vester

The proprietor is not the proprietor any more.
He used to own a white house with a fireplace but now
they brought him a hat into the garden
Hung it on a collapsing hedge and are waiting silently

Mister Vester has rammed his stick in the ground and is wiping his horn-rimmed glasses
He is looking at the people walking down the road in the direction of the city
where he has never set foot.

Translated by Adam Zdrodowski.

The Wind’s Triumph. Jeckels Hotel, Skagen

Your eyes change and you stop reacting to sounds.
The glasses standing nearby start shaking.

You fall asleep fast. You scream in an unknown language and you dig your nails
into the pillow. (The hotel cats knock on our door.)

You return only in the morning, with the first vigilant seagulls.
(Outside there is silence. The long-awaited silence and the sun… )

Smiling, you comb your hair and ask for a cup of tea.
You can’t remember anything.

You soften…
Until the next storm.

Translated by Adam Zdrodowski.

Grzegorz Wróblewski

Grzegorz Wróblewski
photo by Janusz Tyrpak

Grzegorz Wróblewski was born in 1962 in Gdansk and grew up in Warsaw, Poland. He has lived in Copenhagen for the last twenty years. He has published seven volumes of poetry and a collection of short prose pieces in Poland, two books of poetry, a book of poetic prose and an experimental novel (translations) in Denmark, and selected poems in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Mostar 2002). He is also the author of several plays. His work has been translated into five languages. English translations of his poems have appeared in London Magazine, Poetry London, Magma Poetry, Parameter Magazine, Chicago Review, 3rd bed, Eclectica, Mississippi Review, and in anthologies: Altered State: The New Polish Poetry (Arc Publications, Todmorden, UK 2003), Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird (Zephyr Press, Brookline, USA 2004).

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