Jakobe Mansztajn


tsui pen believed in many

parallel time lines, but this too was too little.

silver believes in those low-rider bendy buses

and that as soon as we get asses in gear we will make it.

it’s getting dark, the earth winding up its warm ghetto tongues.

silver seems keen on these kinds of metaphors,

so flings into orbit his moist joint and says:

fine poetry ruins fine manners.

we’re not going to make it. silver gets off the armchair

and puts some music on, though it’s almost inaudible,

inaudible full stop, and asks:

how do you turn this crap on? we lie, certain of selves,

sure of the floor and the lino, now acting as cemetery.

silver puts a finger to the tip of his nose and says:

I can’t pretend, this body is becoming a stranger.

we are smiling, as it is funny, as we all know what what’s like.

blueberry jelly is setting outside our window and silver

is feeling all fine, seeing his imagination so manifest.

he holds that poems differ from poetry by being written,

as no one has yet written poetry, though he himself feels it.

he knows that it’s best to shut oneself up

in the tight shell of a nut


soon, the estate kiosks will fall and boiled sweets

will have to be snatched from tescos. silver senses

the invisible hand of the markets and the gradual end

of lower forms. Those like us are spat upon

seeing as we too are lower forms.

vienna high life: we are sitting in front of the kiosk

munching our sweets. wind wrapped round our faces,

as if it was trying to kiss us goodbye. goodbye

and goodnight. soon the local estate kiosks will fall,

the era of boiled sweets ending, vienna high life

gone to hell. the division of concepts will

blur, so silver says, maybe it’s good even –

high time we started acting like heroes

collectively, as there is safety in numbers.

safety in this case will be key


it’s raining, he said. then cast off his coat and entered

marcin’s things. marcin expresses no objection:

lying low and dying quietly, not quietly enough though

so as we can’t hear (marcin’s things torn by shivers).

marcin’s things seem more upset than marcin, who

has either just passed, or it’s us who have left the room.

my side of the sky is empty, say the eyes which are no

longer marcin’s eyes. they say: my sky is empty and open


you can’t please marcin, even if you bring him preserves,

warm up the raspberry compote, spoon feed him. Even

if you fluff his pillows, smooth down his sheets,

you will not satiate the things consuming the boy’s

body, pinned to the bed, pinned to numerous beds.

marcin’s witnesses and marcin, eye witness to things,

all are perfectly sick of all these pleasantries,

sick of their own affairs and sick of this place


for me, for you and for whomever

they suggest order: gather up the kites,

roll up left-over posters of old heroes.

store: the tricycle, the lego first aid kit,

bin: the empty cans from our e. german fable.

all puny bric-a-brac, cluttering up the hallway,

shove against the wall. bring up from storage:

a few jars for winter, a camping bed, a blanket.

systematically making headway for the future.

finally make a concerted play for happiness,

such as it is, not as it is sought. between

basement and stairs to survive a tragedy.

an insignificant one, though absolute

click here to read the poems in English and Polish originals

Jakobe Mansztajn – born ’82, poet, blogger, in youth a proponent, currently a dissident. Deputy editor of the literary quarterly “Korespondencja z ojcem”, co-organiser of the cyclical poetry event K3 Sopot Slam, for which he has received the Andrzej Walentynowicz Award. He has been published in, among others, Tygodnik Powszechny, Portret, FA-art, Gazeta Wyborcza, Rita Baum, Pogranicza, Cegla. Author of the poetry collection “Vienna high life (Portret, 2009) for which he has received the prestigious 2010 Wroclaw Silesius Award in the Début of the Year category, which has also been nominated for the Gdynia Literary Award in the Poetry category and received thrid place award for the best debut of 2009 “Złoty Środek Poezji” . He comes from a working class family. A Kabbalist.

fot. Natalia Mierzewska

Jakobe Mansztajn – rocznik ‘82, poeta, bloger, w młodości zwolennik, obecnie dysydent. Zastępca redaktora naczelnego kwartalnika “Korespondencja z ojcem”, współautor cyklicznej imprezy poetyckiej K3 Sopot Slam, za którą otrzymał nagrodę im. Andrzeja Walentynowicza. Publikował m.in. w Tygodniku Powszechnym, Portrecie, FA-arcie, Gazecie Wyborczej, Ricie Baum, Pograniczach, Cegle. Autor książki “Wiedeński high life” (Portret, 2009), za którą otrzymał Wrocławską Nagrodę Poetycką Silesius 2010 w kategorii “debiut roku”, a także nominację do Nagrody Literackiej Gdynia w dziedzinie poezji i III nagrodę w konkursie na najlepszy debiut poetycki roku 2009 “Złoty Środek Poezji” . Pochodzi z rodziny proletariackiej. Kabalista.