Skip to content

Languages

107 article(s) translated from Polish

Love Thy Savior

Part Three Jerzy Lutowski takes us to Inquisition-era Spain, where intolerance demands a bold choice of a young Jewish woman.   House lights down. The measured peal of a bell. The doleful tune of a penitential psalm is heard. From the wings on the right three monks emerge, their cowls lowered over their faces. The middle one is carrying a black gonfalon, the other two carry lighted candles. They stop in mid-stage and turn to face the audience. On the gonfalon the words THE...

Printing: On Layout

Here, translator Duda has upgraded nonsense phrasings with a nod to our digital age, and designer Kwiecień-Janikowski maintains the dynamism of the printed version in his digital layout, but again with a clever nod to our temporal remove from the original.   Translation © 2016 by Paulina Duda. Design © 2016 by Wojtek Janikowski. All rights reserved.

Death in the Amazon

The Assassination 1. They’ve set up the ambush by a small bridge across a stream. They’ve been hiding among the trees since early morning—and they’re lying in wait. They know that José Cláudio and Maria will have to slow down here. That’s when the first shot is fired. Discharged from a hunting rifle, the bullet hits both of them at once: it goes through Maria’s hand and lodges near the left wall of José Cláudio’s...

Fakes

What won’t he fix, what won’t he do? The man’s a treasure, a must-have for any decent household. His fingers are like pincers, they can get a grip on even the tiniest little bits and pieces. His nimble joints can turn taps, table legs, and screws any which way. And then with some fast-drying adhesive, rubber cement or just ordinary glue, ta-da, he’s done. “Jeez Louise, how do you do it? Normally I’d have thrown that jewelry box in the trash already but...

The Ship-breakers

1 Shuel is eighteen years old, in a checked shirt hanging loose over his trousers, and with the trusting smile of a child to whom nobody has ever done any harm. Shuel and I are sunk up to our ankles in some sort of gunk consisting of mud, crude oil, organic waste, sawdust, splinters, and scraps of asbestos. We’re walking along the deck of a huge ship, which has several dozen people buzzing around it with files, hammers, crowbars, and other basic tools. The sun is just about to set...

Painting the Occupation

What did Suleiman Shakir paint? An abandoned house. An old man on a donkey. Children picking daffodils. The pictures didn’t need captions. Everyone knew what he was trying to tell them about the tragedy of a Kurdistan pacified by the Iraqi military. The painting is large: two meters high by six meters wide. It stands directly behind the chair from which the Speaker of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament will soon preside, and before the chairs where the deputies will sit. The seats are...

Kyrgyzstan: Shade and Shadow

No Bukhara, no Samarkand, no meaning, just bare life in the rarefied air. That had been what I was after. A clarity of existence. To see sand sifting through the post-imperial rust. That would be enough for me, if anyone were to ask; for that it was worth traveling three or four thousand miles. I’ll go to Murghab, I thought, see the Chinese trucks on the road from Xinjiang. Each day a few of them came by, maybe a dozen or so. Along with extra wheels they each carried a few spare...

Balm of a Long Farewell

1 The tiny oval of Orefine has a remarkable number of canals. The island once served as a center for the islands nearby, many of them even tinier. In this network, the earth dug from the canals was used to fill in the shallow straits and connect some of the islands. The main canal, Canale Grande, went through Orefine in an elongated S. On every island, this shape created backwaters in the larger canals to protect ships from rough seas. The Orefine main canal didn’t merit the name...

A Letter to a Young Poet: On Tomasz Różycki

I Once, on a long trip, I experienced an incident that was as trivial as it was enlightening. It happened that my luggage was lost for a couple of days while I was staying in a foreign city. Because I always bring with me two or three books by my favorite poets (reading while liberated from daily responsibilities has that special quality of intensity), in this situation I was left to the exercises of my own memory. As I wandered the waterfronts, parks, museums, and churches, from time to...

In the Evening, Love

The guy who bought the world has his five minutes and the bartender puts yet another mark by his name. What is his name? The unknit wisps of sky, like in Grójec, like in Horyniec. And snow has covered up this world of yours, right? White letters hide the black background, but no stark tracks have been laid yet, no sleigh track pastiche. In the evening, love leads him on a leash from bar to bar, from Chinese to Italian neighborhoods and farther, beyond all borders. Oh, how he likes...

This Is My Room

This is my room. The ice in the glass will melt here in a moment, will melt before the eye, and by the time the hand and fingers have felt what’s happening, an inkblot takes the page, dyes snippets of letters, turns mud. Again the cobalt night grows vast, streetlights, and you can hear nearby a rattle as the continent moves and shudders, searching for land in the East. Back, thigh, shoulder. Columbus was wrong. There’s no earth whatsoever after sunset, a boat sails into the...

The Guy Who Bought the World

The guy who bought the world is out for a walk down Thirty-seventh Street. No one in the least suspects that the deal just took place and the stock exchanges keep noting each little increase, ha, ha, ha. But now, he merges with the flock of people in the crosswalk and releases himself to jostling. Yellow taxis blast, drivers shout in a dozen different dialects, and he looks up, high, there in air, directly above where clouds go crazy and whipped gray stirs into yellow. The twenty-first...

A Vacation in Basra

February 2005. Violence rages following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the southern port city of Basra is dominated by the militants of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. The British, who are stationed in Basra, are doing little to stem the chaos. Mariusz Zawadzki, a reporter for the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, takes a break from reporting on the chaos in Baghdad to travel to Basra—alone. Attempting to drive to Basra—which is about five hundred kilometers from...

Peshawar

I liked Peshawar. I preferred it to hot, racing Rawalpindi, or grand, haughty Islamabad. I think I preferred it to any other city in the world. Indolent in the autumn sun, it was the perfect place for waiting. Although formally it was part of the state of Pakistan, Peshawar belonged to Afghanistan by now. It lived according to Afghan laws and rules, it thought and felt the Afghan way, it spoke Afghan and it looked Afghan. And Afghanistan meant eternal waiting—always,...

Ketchup

I read in the newspaper that the Apocalypse wasn’t going to happen. To celebrate this piece of good news, I went to McDonald’s and ordered a hamburger. “How fortunate,” I thought, enthusiastically seasoning my hamburger with ketchup, “that there won’t be any angelic horns, no earthbound star plunging toward us on a path of fiery destruction.” Until that day I had eaten without enthusiasm, as I had been living in the shadow of impending...

I Wish I Had a Master

               for S.F. I wish I had a master to teach me how to live, to eat with knife and fork as well as to write poems he’d tell me how the stars like people are born and die and like people live in constellations I’d listen to my master attentively for one stray word would mean the fall of kingdoms the suspension of time my master’s words carved from the body would be clear. Translation...

Alterity

The rules are clear: no place to mill about. There’s no such thing as comfort for unhappy men. He leaves the tall house and passes through the eye of the blizzard, insignias unpinned, his neck exposed by a collar haphazardly removed. In silence. No one rings him, not even from his pockets, no sharp objects or dimes, his shoes unlaced, his loops without a belt. He’s free to think—or whatever else he pleases, no one cares where he goes or why— of Roland,...

only i am

it'll happen via levels and verticals, you won't even notice before a cluster of tongues has ground you, smelt from your body a thimble for death. you have no chance without me. only i am cruelty-free: a cyclist helmet, a warm button, a hand that puts away a sharp object, the truth is that sometimes i am not well: i give out spider-catchers for so-called luck, i dig in the ground in search of a glass under which at the beginning i hid a note with my name. Translation...

Adjectival Poem

Amazing spring, warm, humid and full of backlit trees in various colors, even if it’s still unclear which ones, except for the rhododendron, which one way or another stays in shape, though it’s just a bush, and the unfurling leaves of the maple. And the greenery in the flowerbeds, which is green even at night. “Also in the dark?” Also in the dark. Amazing, silly, and even in such dark moments lucid days, because for starters, days, and nights, because of...

Bugging

And of course the birds go on chirping, and how! Even if they’re not chirping. Bah, wires can chirp almost as well, so it’s easy to confuse them. It’s altogether loud and sensuous, almost phonetic. And the flowers blossom to make things colorful, and later wither, first on the graves, but they’re bent out of shape there, mostly due to us passing by on the paths between the trees as if nothing had happened. And no way to avoid the brown-eyed gaze of the...

Utensils Shrink

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,...

Old-Fashioned

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...

Rooms and Gardens

They will greet you with mysterious smiles, those who were there before you. Later, when new ones arrive, you will already know it all. You will welcome them with the same smile and show them in. With a sweeping gesture you will present the freshly made beds and the expansive view of the gardens. At last, when they will have composed themselves a little, you will explain where they are and what the future has in store for them. Translation of “Pomieszczenia i...

A Thousand

We exist on innumerable photographs. Whoever you are you exist. In a country landscape there is no place for sublime pleasures of the soul. Whoever’s tired of the city this, or some other, can go to the country. City creates an atmosphere of unaccountability just as the country creates the atmosphere of irrelevance. Over the atmosphere of the country planes draw straight lines or fall burning. We could have found a plane but someone’s stomach growled. A...

from “The Fool”

The Fool (Głupiec, 2005) is set in contemporary Olsztyn, author Ewa Schilling's hometown in northeastern Poland. Alina is a thirty-year-old high school teacher and the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, who taught her that   " feelings are dangerous. " Dangerous, indeed: She falls in love—  "without sense, "   " without a chance  " —with her dynamic young student, Anka. While exceptionally mature, Anka is still months from graduation. With precise,...

Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.