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Reprinted with permission from Altered State — The New Polish Poetry. Edited by Rod Mengham, Tadeusz Pióro and Piotr Szymor. Todmorden, UK: Arc Publications, 2003. Price: £10.95. This selection was chosen by Rod Mengham and John Tranter. Visit the publisher’s website.

Mariusz Grzebalski

Two poems

Slaughterhouse

Same old same old here.
I was foolish to think it might be
otherwise.

Sea the colour of a faded uniform.
You could wring it, pull it over your head
and wear it like a frayed sweater.

We pile the crates into a pyramid, smoke
cheap cigarettes, laugh at the winos on the bench.
Mutts run around distributing shits.

We’ve stopped resembling humans long ago.
No inhibitions. We stink of meat.
Nothing of interest awaits us tomorrow or the day after.

On the ramp, the pink butterflies of pigs’ ears
await take-off.


Then

Then we took out his furniture. In the yard
a truck waited, ready to go.
Inside, cement leftovers, tangled chains,
rags, greasy papers, blankets.
So many things—all at once—became refuse.
The reversed landscapes of a mirror, the cupboard
with successive layers of paint cracked
as a river-bed when water retires,
the meter he checked the day before
the reader was due. And others. Then
we left that place, shouting and quarrelling
over little things; she didn’t even look
back at the pockmarked walls. Then, in another
city, she tore up all the photographs and letters
from him and grew old fast. She remembers,
cries, curses. Then we’ll take out her furniture.

Translated by Tadeusz Pióro.

Mariusz Grzebalski was born in 1969, lives in Poznań and works in a publishing house. He was the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Nowy Nurt.

His publications include:

Trwanie nieodparte [Irresistible Lingering], 1989
Negatyw (Negative) (Ostrołęka: Pracownia, 1994)
Ulica Gnostycka [Gnostic Street] (Poznań: Obserwator, 1997)
Drugie dotknięcie [Second Touch] (Legnica: Biuro Literackie, 2000)

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