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tearing the rag off the bush again
New Poems by Grzegorz Wr?blewsk PDF E-mail

Translated from the Polish by Agnieszka Pokojska

Anarchy and Tuna

a group of anarchists throwing a Molotov cocktail bought

for social services money

calculate the cost of finishing off

one policeman

you have to budget cleverly, as there has to be enough left

for canned tuna and lemon

canned tuna is just the thing for a rebel: a cheap foodstuff

that makes you go forever!

state officials regularly pay the anarchists

their dole and in so doing support anarchy

officials and anarchists supposedly being

two fiercely antagonistic worlds!

you can’t mention an anarchist in front of an official unless you

want him to have a fit of nervous hiccups,

or a white shirt tucked into grey pants

in front of an anarchist, unless you want him to get his knife

it’s hard to be an official,

it’s equally hard to be an anarchist,

but it’s shit manners to be an anarchist

in a welfare state



Renoir and Van Gogh



Renoir was not naïve: Painting is there

To decorate walls.

Conversation… The Isshidan Garden in Kyoto.

Tapies’s canvases in stone? Or a poster,

maybe? El Quixote de Antonio Saura.

Since Saura died – there’s only Tapies!

Too many reproductions here, then, and gap-toothed

prostitutes from Thailand.

Barcelona? It’s so far away.

In Copenhagen, only a billiards table,

Jacobsen’s forks and chairs.

No use denying it, I do love cheap jewelry

and expensive, pre-war silver,

and I’ve always felt at my optimum in the city.

That’s why I’d like to pop out to the country.

Because –

I’d like to see a horse again,

though, to be honest, I’ve no idea why…

Horses can be quite dangerous, after all.

Oh, we also have Kierkegaard!

You mustn’t forget.

Camus was under the influence, no doubt.

A horse instead of a smoke, a must at my age,

Nothing more for me now but subtle sunflowers.

And here goes Renoir again: For me, a painting has to be

something nice,

something joyful,

something pretty. I disagree.

Let’s take the jittery Van Gogh,

for example:

I pay for my art

with the risk of life,

it took half my mind away.

Failures. Women in flowing dresses

and old shawls.

Van Gogh. Renoir.

They were right.

(We’ll be carted

To the morgue soon.) Adios, amigo borracho!

Their portraits are immortal, as long as

I look at them.  




* * * 



You wonder why you find yourself facing everyday ascetic

practice and reading the old stuff by Stephen King?


Because we were out of luck again and the keys

were not right for that car, property of your wife, who is down


with bronchitis (I never even knew you were married),

neither for the other, which some clueless plainclothes dogs


parked right next to hers.





Homage to Short Stays



Maybe it’s because of riots in Albania

or how the clay god Ganesha

affects us. I should count

on nothing pleasant today.


(I’m even miffed at the sweet mangoes

you bought at the Pakistani’s yesterday.)

Looks like these are the only reasons

I called my last drawing Loneliness.


“The disease of civilization…”, sighs

the gallery owner, upset.

I might as well have

called it Eyes.


It would amount to the same thing.




Love, Ecology and Moon



We listen to the faraway singing

of fighter-planes: the Moon sect has not

found our suburban hideout yet!


A momentary idyll… Here, all that matters

are white shells and birds emerging

from pure clouds.


You mean so much to me, more than

the nuclear plant at Barsebäck.



Henrietta on a Date



A grasshopper hid behind the basket belonging

to Henrietta. Stripped naked, she tears down the hot leaves

and fools around with a corn cob.


Sweaty all over, she waits for her man, who

is not coming for another 4 months, not until

he has completed his clerical training in Odense.



The Castle



Cats’ eyes and honeymooning

Russians. On the wall, the immortal



The last concierge was be-

headed in 1600…



Grzegorz Wróblewski, born in 1962 in Gdansk and raised in Warsaw, has been living in Copenhagen since 1985. He has published ten volumes of poetry and three collections of short prose pieces in Poland; three books of poetry, a book of poetic prose and an experimental novel (translations) in Denmark; and a book of selected poems in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as a selection of plays. His work has been translated into fifteen languages.

The English translations of his poems and/or plays have appeared in London Magazine, Poetry London, Magma Poetry, Parameter Magazine, Poetry Wales, The Delinquent, Chicago Review, 3rd bed, Eclectica, Mississippi Review, Absinthe: New European Writing, Common Knowledge, Word Riot, Practice: New Writing + Art, The Mercurian – A Theatrical Translation Review, Lyric, CounterPunch, Exquisite Corpse, Guernica, Jacket Magazine, Otoliths, Cambridge Literary Review, 3:AM Magazine, Past Simple, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, AGNI Online, Words Without Borders, Shampoo, Seneca Review,
Postmodern Culture,
West Wind Review
and in the following anthologies: Altered State: The New Polish Poetry (Arc Publications, Todmorden, UK 2003), Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird (Zephyr Press, Brookline, USA 2004), A Generation Defining Itself – In Our Own Words (MW Enterprises, USA 2007).

Selected poems Our Flying Objects (Equipage Press, Cambridge, UK 2007),
new and selected poems A Marzipan Factory (Otoliths, Rockhampton, Australia 2010).

His chapbooks to date are: These Extraordinary People (erbacce-press, Liverpool, UK 2008) and Mercury Project (Toad Press, Claremont, USA 2008), A Rarity (Cervena Barva Press, W. Somerville, USA, 2009).



Agnieszka Pokojska is a freelance translator and editor, tutor in literary translation at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and author of a number of articles on translation. Her translations into Polish include poems by Seamus Heaney, Robert Pinsky and Derek Walcott. Her translations of Grzegorz Wróblewski’s poetry appeared in the anthology Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird, in Lyric Poetry Review, West Wind Review, Eclectica, Jacket Magazine, The Journal, Cambridge Literary Review, Past Simple, Words Without Borders, The Delinquent, 3:AM Magazine, Postmodern Culture, Otoliths and Poetry Wales and most recently in the chapbook A Rarity published by Cervena Barva Press.








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