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Poetry From the September 2011 issue: Homage


Old-Fashioned

W Starym Stylu

And then she died on us, utterly.
The leg dead, the foot rough.
The bend of the knee glows with emptiness.
And the belly’s warmth turns to ash,
a black sachet filled with down.

Even the cigarette, that meager butterfly,
the joining of lung, poison, and breath,
is merely an inscription on a signboard
that says nothing to passers-by.
The mouth it rules being dead.

And even I, lying on sheets
already musty in late morning,
as disposable as a syringe, soak it up
like a ball of cotton and darken within.

Much as I’d like to brighten up and dye my hair,
to change the conversation’s tone and direction,
we’re dealing with a voice that will remain
deaf to any sound but its own.

Translation of “W starym stylu.” © Edward Pasewicz. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2011 by Benjamin Paloff. All rights reserved.

I oto umarła nam kompletnie!
Martwa jest noga i szorstka pięta.
Zgięcie w kolanie też świeci pustką.
A z ciepła brzucha pozostał popiół,
czarna saszetka wypełniona puchem.

Nawet papieros, ten nędzny motyl,
złączenie płuc, trucizny i oddechu,
jest tylko napisem na słupie ogłoszeń
który nic nie mówi przechodniom.
Bo martwe są usta którymi on włada.

I nawet ja, leżący przed południem,
w zatęchłej już nieco pościeli,
jednorazowy jak strzykawka, nasiąkam
jak wacik i ciemnieję wewnątrz.

Choć chciałbym rozjaśnić się i ufarbować,
zmienić ton i przebieg rozmowy,
to jednak głos pozostaje głuchy
na inne brzmienia poza własnym brzmieniem




Edward PasewiczEdward Pasewicz

Edward Pasewicz was born in 1971 in Kostrzyn and is a poet, writer, and composer. His nine books have won a number of prizes, and his poetry has been translated into German, English, Slovenian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Czech, Spanish, Catalan, and Italian. His most recent book is Pałacyk Bertolta Brechta.

Translated from PolishPolish by Benjamin PaloffBenjamin Paloff

Benjamin Paloff grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and was educated at Harvard (BA, MA, PhD) and at the University of Michigan (MFA), where he now teaches. He is the author of The Politics, a collection of poems, and has translated several books from Polish, including the forthcoming Lodgings: Selected Poems of Andrzej Sosnowski. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright Program, he is a poetry editor at the Boston Review.