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The New Polish Poetry feature
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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.

Marcin Świetlicki

Three poems


She’s lying beside me. Pretends to sleep.
Will anything nice survive the destruction?
We’ve killed everything. Bright moths
touch both sides of the window. Peace.
Quiet so far.
A hundred times she made clear she did not want me.
But I tried every male
trick. She’s here. She’s
beside me in someone’s bed.
She lost. Won. I won. Lost.
She’s lying there. Dressed, I sit down
at a distance. Watching.
Knocked over, broken teacups.
Ashtray with two long butts.
When she opens her eyes, I’ll open fire.

So Long Ago, So Distinctly

In the morning I go to see the spot chosen by lightning.
Beneath an oak some scrap metal, a rust-eaten
bucket. The earth seems older here,
greyer. Deafened worms crawl from crevices.
Not this time.


I find your teethmarks in a strange city.
I find your teethmarks on my shoulder.
I find your teethmarks in the mirror.
Sometimes I am a hamburger.
Sometimes I am a hamburger.
Lettuce sticks out of me and mustard runs.
Sometimes I am mortally like
all other hamburgers.
First layer: skin.
Second layer: blood.
Third layer: bones.
Fourth layer: soul.
And your teeth
marks the deepest,
the deepest.

Translated by Tadeusz Pióro.

Marcin Świetlicki, who was born in 1961, lives in Kraków and works as a proof-reader for Tygodnik Powszechny, a Catholic weekly. He also collaborates with a number of musicians and rock bands and performs his poems on stage with their assistance.

His publications include:

Zimne kraje [Cold Countries] (Kraków—Warszawa: bruLion, 1992)
Schizma [Schism] (Poznań: Obserwator, 1994)
Zimne kraje 2 [Cold Countries 2] (Kraków: Zebra, 1995)
Trzecia połowa [Third Half] (Poznań: a5, 1996)
37 wierszy o wódce i papierosach [37 Poems about Vodka and Cigarettes] (Bydgoszcz: Świadectwo, 1996)
Pieśni profana [Profane Songs] (Czarne: Wydawnictwo Czarne, 1998)
Czynny do odwołania [Open till Further Notice] (Czarne: Wydawnictwo Czarne, 2001)

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