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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.

Adam Wiedemann


Aesthetics Of The Word

                For Krzysztof and Rozyczka

This poem joins the one before. The sun has no face,
especially today. Before, it would go on leave
and we could leave work, look straight into darkness.

Work wasn’t so bad. Nothing to do,
so we gave ourselves to the spoken
word. It’s so simple: you open

your mouth and something leaves it, by no means the tongue
in its pure state. To think that so many lovely
creatures do without a word, as this gentleman

putting key chains on tables to pick them up again.
Embodiment of hopes for a pleasant afternoon
with a glass of spirits. Ah, words

take on meaning, and then… See, you look like a worn-out beast.
Paradoxically speaking, every one of us
resembles a termites’ mound and our denizens

can mingle freely, but only within
a limited range. Limited by what?
Ask rather by whom, we feel we’re somebody yet.

And we feel the one above us is somebody, too,
for how could we be ruled by a rude monkey
and speak to it: You swinish, hungover tomato?

More can be said thanks to this poem’s form.
I don’t know how it is that we’d like to be
aware of everything, but then say: Sorry,

I wasn’t there, I was in the kitchen.
Some women spend half their lives in the kitchen
and no wonder they’d like to see it all

from that angle. It’s for them all those
meaningless things were invented, regardless
of what used to pass for the wholesome embrace of sex.

From time to time someone tells us
to kiss their hands and we think: Is he pulling our leg?
All we can kiss is some pretty

ass, admiring the hairline between its cheeks,
provided it’s pretty, of course. Some cheeks
are prettier than some symphonies. I read

about that somewhere, obviously the ass
must have been put into verse. My hilarity is on the rise
and, as Jarek Gornicki said, show me someone who really thinks

he’s mortal. We can always count
on our lover’s not having been born yet:
only the young fuck with their own generation.

But here I am amusing you with anecdotes while
somewhere in the Third World a serious scientific
conference is afoot with major funding. Just

imagine: the cream of the Kraków professoriate
in a debate with the cream of the Warsaw professoriate. They should
show such things at the movies for the crowd’s amusement.

Too bad the crowd doesn’t know what’s good. Yesterday, for instance,
I drank Kasztelan beer and it seemed quite passable,
but then I puked like a cat. Madzia told me of a cat

that bit her girlfriend’s finger and died. You, brother,
got the mill, but I got the cat. The fact
that some of us will not survive childhood is much more

serious than the fact that others will go to prison
for their convictions. You can have convictions
of one kind or another, some of them we call criminal and it’s those

that most often germinate in prisons, therefore
prisons should be closed down and inmates
made to hang or take electric shocks. Death

\is far more interesting than penal servitude, just as
writing a poem surpasses writing applications. Oh, feline attitude,oh Mother
of God, may all this round off nicely since

we still think so well of each other.

(Kraków, 23 May 2002)

Translated by Tadeusz Pióro.

Adam Wiedemann

Adam Wiedemann
Photo: Tobiasz Melanowski

Adam Wiedemann was born in 1967 and lives in Kraków as a freelance writer. He studied Polish literature at the Jagiellonian University, but was also trained in composition and frequently writes about music. He is the author of two collections of short stories, Wszędobylstwo porządku [The Ubiquitousness of Order] and Sęk pies brew [Five Short Pieces] as well as a book of dreams Sceny łóżkowe [Bed Scenes]..

His publications include:

Samczyk [Young Male] (Poznań: Obserwator, 1996)
Bajki zwierzęce [Animal Fables] (Wrocław: Pomona, 1997)
Ciasteczka z kremen [Cream Cakes] (Legnica: Centrum Sztuki—Teatr Dramatyczny, 1998)
Rozrusznik [Starter] (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1998)
Konwalia [Lily of the Valley] (Legnica: Biuro Literackie, 2001)
Kalipso [Callypso] (Warszawa: Prószyński i s-ka, 2004)

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