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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.

Maciej Melecki

Poem

Summer, Getting Away from Yourself

Night sticks to skin like flypaper to a fly.
Children from nearby houses are jumping up and down
around a bonfire. The handshakes of new arrivals only burn
your hand. Your own transforms into no one’s.
                                                    There is music from speakers
put out on the terrace. The garden does not end
behind the fence or at the blinking of red
lights on the high-rise roof.

Not enough of a story, too much of the past in
the conversation with a woman on the stairs. She begins suddenly
to talk of traps and you feel she’s not making sense
but in the end you reckon she’s speaking of you. Branches chopped
in the evening were brought from outside the shed and
a barely visible figure takes charge of throwing them into
the fire. The axe stuck into a block struggles with shadow.

Muffled laughter from open windows gets entangled
in cherry trees still in fruit near the gate.
Most important of all are the backs touching
shirts and dresses. Men clearing their throats;
glass breaking on the floor does not deflect attention. You sit
on dry spiky grass within a step of every
thought that chases after you. Of this fire, of those
                                                                                                        traps.

Translated by Piotr Szymor and Rod Mengham.

Maciej Melecki was bom in 1969 and lives in Mikołów, where he works at the Mikołów Institute, a cultural foundation established in the former home of Rafał Wojaczek, a Rimbaudian martyr who took his life in 1971. He is co-editor of Arcadia, a journal published by the Institute.

His publications include:

Zachodzenie za siebie [Behind the Self] 1993
Te sprawy [Such Things] (Kraków: Oficyna Cracovia, 1995)
Niebezpiecznie blisko [Dangerously Close] (Warszawa: Przedświt, 1996)
Dalsze zajscia [Further Goings Behind] 1998
Zimni ogrodnicy [Mid-May Cold Spell] (Mikołów: Instytut Mikołówski, 1999)
Przypadki i odmiany [Cases and Declensions](Mikołów: Instytut Mikołówski, 2001)

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