:: Article

Five Poems

By Adam Zdrodowski.

Three Imaginary Girls

      Lucinda, in your luscious lace that tears and tatters in the shifting sands: with fleets of sandy ships under your command, you watch the raindrops as they fall and splash, you play with sandgrains as they sift and shine, sewing the sights to your hospitable retina, the saddest seamstress of the floating world.

      Melinda, whose eyes reflect the secret dreams of the Western World and make the bourgeoning bourgeoisie fade like a fake precious stone on your belt’s buckle: should you but put out your hand and wide domains would sink into the ground. Just wink, and soldiers and actors, stockbrockers and shoemakers will plunge into oblivion and garrulous lawyers will lose their train of thought.

      Mathilda, with your long-lost smile: under your soft touch ancient provinces stretching far and wide have fallen and mighty businessmen have lost their minds and teeth. In such feeble light as the setting sun provides, stranded on the sand, with a short straw for a toothpick, I’m telling my troubles to strangers, will you listen?



This glittering spring of time,
The shadow that covers us
On train platforms in snow-covered vales.
Leads us to a period of great weightlessness.

The shadow that covers us
(it immobilises bodies like a plaster space-suit)
Leads us to a period of great weightlessness –
This rocket soaring into the starry future.

It immobilises bodies like a plaster space-suit,
Although it promises fantastic journeys,
This rocket soaring into the starry future.
Time lies, and clocks cannot be trusted –

Although it promises fantastic journeys,
This mission cannot be completed –
Time lies, and clocks cannot be trusted
(they are out of order), and no-one believes that

This mission cannot be completed,
When malfunctioning television aerials
(they are out of order, and no-one believes that)
Catch a last, melancholic signal.

When malfunctioning television aerials
On the roofs of apartment blocks
Catch a last, melancholic signal,
We are swallowed by the past.

On the roofs of apartment blocks
On train platforms in snow-covered vales.
We are swallowed by the past,
This glittering spring of time.

Translation by Bohdan Piasecki


A Prose Poem

      Here’s a box for you, with all the trinkets you’ll need on the way, with fire-fangled feathery necklaces and marimbas for any lonely night; and silver bracelets to catch some stray smithereens of the day’s light, tinkling till the dead of night. Time to go, or time to sleep, time to twist and turn with every turning of the tide. See, the sun’s setting in the sea, soon we’ll see the moon installed in the sky, its pale cardboard face ready to shatter any careless dream. See, the sea has left us something on the shore, the day’s cargo packed in tiny boxes. Shall we accept its invitation, inscribe our names in minute characters on the boxes and set them afloat in the open sea again, let them ride the waves like agitated dolphins?
      But then was it really you or was it just the wind blowing through the trees in bloom? Or was it just the moon that set my mind adrift? And tell me, if it happened to be you, were they moonbeams I saw on your fingertips, or were they sunbeams? Here I am, waiting, wriggling, watching the horizon that teased me into talking.

* * *

      A little rain, a little blood. Black fingernails in August; and going berserk, going bananas. As if entrapped in a tropical heatwave, with dozens of whirlwinds swirling in one’s mind, one thinks of a way out, or a way in: out of the scorching bosom of a volcano, and in – into the centre of a raging hurricane. And tracing the labyrinthine ways of your mind, the haphazard vagaries of your thoughts at ease, the odds and ends of your mental surplus you carelessly throw at the world, one wants to be at a loss, in a maze; amazed, and amazingly unabashed.

* * *

      This is where we came from: youth’s sweet disaffection, the disambiguations of love, something one tries to ignore but it still bothers one, will not be forgotten, like a grain of sand under the foreskin. Now that the music of spring is over and winter has changed the city into a frozen frame that says “come on, take it, put it in your pocket, hang it on your wall,” one does what one can.
      Not much, that is; it’s as if you learned the Nabucco aria to win your wife back, but forgot she hates Verdi, and is deaf anyway, has been deaf for at least five years. But what about the sights, the cityscapes, what about the voyeuristic voluptuosness, the voluminous volubility? Has all that been forgotten too, cancelled, postponed, put out of sight and out of reach? And what about your summer hats, where have all the fancy dresses gone? Here I am, angry and bedazzled, looking for my favourite T-shirt, the one with the flowery print on the sleeve, checking every nook and cranny, to no avail.


Adam Zdrodowski, born in 1979, is a Polish poet and translator. His translations include “Lifting Belly” by Gertrude Stein, prose pieces by Raymond Roussel and William S. Burroughs as well as poems by James Schuyler and Mark Ford. His poems have appeared in: Odra, Dwukropek and Dziennik portowy. His poetry collections include Przygody, etc. (Adventures, etc., 2005) and Jesień Zuzanny ( Susanna’s Autumn, 2007). He lives in Warsaw.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, July 11th, 2010.