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Poetry From the September 2011 issue: Homage


Utensils Shrink

Maleją sprzęty

children grow, no doubt happily
verbs swell before your eyes or
burst their seams, everything does something
to be happy inevitably.
In Studio “Bernardi,” Łódź, 17 Piotr-
kowska Street, my two-year-old mother
sits on her mother’s lap
with her arms around her neck. “Negatives
Preserved.” Forgive me,
but for how long? I look for the atelier
myself, where everything is
recorded, day by day, and the negatives
continue to be preserved, recorded,
even now. Where going into the film
is like going home, after classes, after
lunch in school. What did you have today?
Kasha with that tasty meat
sauce. Everything can be
touched and tasted. No need to put
the note on the door: “Please knock
loudly! The bell is weak!”
because old people have good hearing
and appetite, but they don’t have to vomit.
A wardrobe full of mysteries, with drawers,
and on the inside of the door
an enormous mirror (beveled,
Viennese), in which everything I’ve mentioned
and that I’ll come to mention
looks at itself
(the hinge has yet to wear out, the past
hasn’t broken down). The postman
brings letters and holiday cards,
and in the mailbox, how absurd,
there’s no notice from the library waiting,
requesting return of the, in your opinion,
wonderful book: Every
Patient Can Be Cured,
which now can come in handy
for someone else.

Translation of "Maleją sprzęty." Copyright Piotr Sommer. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by W. Martin and Christian Hawkey. All rights reserved.

rosną dzieci, pewnie na szczęście
czasowniki puchną w oczach albo
pękają w szwach, wszystko coś robi
na niechybne szczęście.
W studio „Bernardi”, Łódź, Piotr-
kowska 17, moja dwuletnia matka
siedzi na kolanach swojej matki
i obejmuje ją za szyję. „Klisze
przechowują się”. Przepraszam,
ale jak długo? Sam poszukuję
atelier, gdzie jest rejestrowane
wszystko, dzień po dniu, a klisze
nadal przechowują się i rejestrują,
teraz też. Gdzie się do filmu wchodzi
jak do domu, po lekcjach i po
obiedzie w szkole. Co to dziś było?
Kasza z bardzo dobrym sosem
mięsnym. Wszystkiego można
dotknąć i skosztować. Na drzwiach
nie trzeba wieszać kartki „Proszę pukać
mocno! dzwonek słabo dzwoni”
bo starsi ludzie mają dobry słuch
oraz apetyt, ale nie mają torsji.
W szafie pełnej tajemnic, z szufladami,
na środkowych drzwiach wisi
ogromne lustro (wiedeńskie,
fazowane), w którym przegląda się
to wszystko, o czym wspominam
wyżej i o czym jeszcze wspomnę
(zawias jest niewytarty, przeszłość
się nie stłukła). Listonosz
przynosi listy i świąteczne kartki,
a w skrzynce niedorzecznie
nie czeka powiastka z biblioteki
z prośbą o zwrot tej Twoim zdaniem
świetnej książki Nie ma
nieuleczalnie chorych
która się teraz może przydać
komuś innemu.




Piotr SommerPiotr Sommer

Piotr Sommer (b. 1948) is the author of twelve books of poetry, including Czynnik liryczny (1986, Lyric Factor), Nowe stosunki wyrazów (1997, New Relations of Words),  Rano na ziemi (2009, Morning on Earth), Dni i noce (2009, Days and Nights), and Wiersze ze słów (2009, Poems from Words). He has also published two books of essays, Smak detalu (1995, A Taste for Detail) and Po stykach (2005, Contact Lines), as well as many translations from contemporary American, English and Irish poetry (John Ashbery, John Berryman, John Cage, D.J. Enright, Kenneth Koch, Michael Longley, Frank O’Hara, Charles Reznikoff, David Schubert, James Schuyler). Przed snem (2008, Before Sleep) is his book of poems for children, and Ucieczka w bok. Pytania i odpowiedzi (2010, Escaping Aside: Questions and Answers) is a book of selected interviews. His poems have been translated into many languages, and his collections have appeared in English, German, Slovak, and Slovene. His many prizes include the Silesius Poetry Prize (2010). His most recent book in English is Continued (2005).

photo: Robert Wiącek

Translated from PolishPolish by W. MartinW. Martin and by Christian HawkeyChristian Hawkey

W. Martin is the translator of Michał Witkowski's Lovetown (Portobello, 2010), Erich Kästner's Emil and the Detectives (Overlook, 2007), and Natasza Goerke's Farewells to Plasma (Twisted Spoon, 2002), among other things. He is a former Fiction Editor of Chicago Review and a 2008 recipient of the NEA Literature Fellowship for Translation.

Christian Hawkey is a poet and translator. He is the author of Petitions for an Alien Relative (a chapbook by hand held editions, 2010); Ventrakl (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010); Citizen Of (Wave Books, 2007); Hour, Hour, a chapbook which includes drawings by the artist Ryan Mrowzowski (Delirium Press, 2006); and The Book of Funnels (Verse Press, 2004), winner of the 2006 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. In 2006 he was given a Creative Capital Innovative Literature Award, and he has also received awards from the Poetry Fund and the Academy of American Poets. He teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.