Kurt gone mad
I have a newspaper photograph stuck to the fridge
- two fingers pressed against the spot where the temple
brushes wit, and the thumb for the hammer of a gun,
and a tiny blotch which signals the next move.
Although a smile’s breaking through the stubble,
fear fills the eyes (breaking the surface)
and then all those apologies. Sure.
He already knows you can drink half a glass
and feel empty instead of anywhere near full.
Kurt gone mad, only he doesn’t know it.
I only envy him this oversight.
The word “fragility” makes me anxious. This deceitful
weakness besets everything slowly, persistently.
It won’t be escaped. Revealing itself by itself.
I’m clenching my fists hard, watching it lurk.
Seeing the sudden lightness of my mother, her bird-like
bone structure, I feel she’s going to scatter soon,
taking with her the best part of me. She’s practicing
her final role (she’s going to toss and turn in bed).
I notice her flaccid, ageing skin, scantily filled
with breath, and a cobweb of thin blue lines
beneath. “Fragility” – a bitter prediction
of loss and grief. The rest is just a shell.
and now lay me down to sleep (a Victorian postmortem gallery)
our eyes are open, but we can’t see
deeper than the length of fingernail. but they can see
the illusive signs of dusk. those smiles
radiating confusion, when we slide along the surface
of life, like silent mercury setting on panes of glass.
in the morning, we’ll take our own fingerprints.
the only thing separating us from our Sunday walks
is a lens and a glimmer of magnesium in a narrow fissure,
the rustle of dead lace, a metal stand.
the rest will be extinguished by stiff silence. we’ll lose it irretrievably
as soon as we open our mouths. a keyhole or a slot.
the picture is clear, saying: death is a place, not a moment in time
translated from Polish by Jarosław Fejdych and Maciej Froński
Paweł Podlipniak (born 1968); journalist, expert in Byzantine studies, ESL Teacher, professional trade unionist and dissident. Winner of over 40 poetry competitions (incl. K.K. Baczyński, K. Ratonia, im. M .Kajki, im. J. Krzewniaka, im. J.Kulki, im. St. Grochowiaka, im. Z. Herberta); his verse has been published in “Topos”, “RED”, “Bliza”, “Arterie”, “sZAFa”, “PKPZin”, “Miesięcznik prowincjonalny”, „Kozirynkui”, „Fraza” and also on nieszuflada.pl and literackie.pl; his published volumes include “Aubade triste” (Radom, 2010) and “Karmageddon” (Warszawa, 2012); he lives in Radom.
Paweł Podlipniak (ur. 1968); dziennikarz, bizantynista, ESL Teacher, zawodowy związkowiec i dysydent. Laureat ponad 40 konkursów poetyckich (m.in im. K.K. Baczyńskiego, K. Ratonia, im. M .Kajki, im. J. Krzewniaka, im. J.Kulki, im. St. Grochowiaka, im. Z. Herberta); publikował swoje wiersze w “Toposie”, “RED-zie”, “Blizie”, “Arteriach”, “sZAFie”, “PKPZinie”, “Miesięczniku prowincjonalnym”, „Kozirynkui”, „Frazie”, oraz na nieszuflada.pl i literackie.pl; autor tomików “Aubade triste” (Radom, 2010) oraz “Karmageddon” (Warszawa, 2012); mieszka w Radomiu.