Six Poems by Edward Pasewicz (b. 1971)

Come Chat 

I know why I regard your foot,

it holds up your body, and your body holds me up.


Since something is wrong with my body,

dead “but” it rocks itself

in a wicker cage and falls into a trance

and whispers: prickly pear, thorns of roses, death

woven with words repeated every morning

in order to learn a foreign tongue well.

Come chat, the foot, the toenail, the heel,

dirty, of course, black from the dust

that always lingers on the floor. Tell me

about prickly pear, rose petals, tendons,

which keep you always on the alert.


I do not fear a foreign tongue

will touch you in other ways than I do

and name more tenderly. Come chat, yes, now

I must begin these talks,

repeat verses almost Biblical:

prickly pear cut his feet,

thorns of roses deepened the wounds.


Translated by Marit MacArthur and Marta Pilarska




Little Night Boat 

Two quick coffees on a shifty boat

no sun out yet, but it’s starting.

The city in spite of everything is inside the skull,

if you took it out — it would sink whole.

Between your temples are the outskirts,
maybe even the lonely little houses in the middle of nowhere.


I have the city center and the shopping district, roundabouts

and all the tram loops, the station too.


We can exchange, with much fond regard —

tree for street, grass for rails, tram for greenwood.


I can allow you a landing at the city hall square

just keep saying anything, a lot and loud.


Translated by Marit MacArthur and Marta Pilarska



Sir Ressentiment

I am on an island of birds

king of reeds and sand, the essence

I sample from strolls in the park

like a Zen monk whose

master tore off his arm and the arm

began to live on its own,

you know the story?

Wooden is the ring of bells

but hearing doesn’t concern me

the crane that I know is for construction.

I rise up high

and bore tunnels

I sleep in a cocoon like a purebred


I am the king of the birds

on a suburban island,

the sound of hammering boards

my music,

lime mixed with cement

my paintings.

Translated by Marit MacArthur and Marta Pilarska



Foreground — Dark Take

Arctic enough this afternoon,

mysteries are wanted, but it’s peeling potatoes.

Need to cook, even mysteries need cooking up.

Thirst is only a merry-go-round, chicken

a mystery of flesh. Catch me tenderly in the act

with a knife poised over the trash can.

Sometimes I can cry. Monsters come

near our house and clench their teeth.

Very feminine this clenching.

Very like dancing this walking.

Translated by Marit MacArthur and Marta Pilarska




No Dreams at  All

You don’t like waterfalls, 
so I’ve written nothing on waterfalls.

I talk freely of pain, control myself

lighting a match. On the field boys play

ball, drops of hormones harmonize

with rain, every second boy has a scratched thigh,

a bicep. By the river grass is burning.

Neighbors have no eyelids, they don’t sleep, since

we organize brawls, dirty pans we wash at night,

night is the time for purification, though the idiot downstairs

would like morning to come. Stick it in her ass,

let the streets be blessed, if something should be.

I am useless, when it comes to good relations

with the neighbors. But you are a rainbow and a screen —

take shots at me, if you want to. On Gdansk Street

we are marine and have beaches. Sand

from the hallway you carry out in pails. I was going

to talk of pain, but I connect it with a spring,

a trickle of sweat, a pack of young pups

laughing in the street. You laugh, on this beach

there’s no shell that could contain us both.

You had some premonition, some kind of blizzard pushed you

against the wall? Something bent, broke? I always hear

piano solos, a plump butcher’s daughter plays them.

The same bars on black keys, making the same

slip of the fingers, every day. You fret over these landscapes

you dance in the kitchen making coffee, I have no more strands

to string together to make a dark veil, I kiss you

in the evening, while you play patience. Nobody

gags me, nobody whips me. Spring

you hear in muffled breaths, still stunted,

balled up in a fist.

Translated by Marit MacArthur and Marta Pilarska




to Łukasz

I have a hammock, but you don’t feel like it.

I redden my bruise, in my palate I have a hole.

I want to rock myself back and forth on cold mornings,

but the night is longer than all winters.

A uniform from high school molders in the attic,

I smoked grass in it, seeds in the pockets

will certainly sprout.

The night is longer than

any other autumn — does it matter

if a sprouting seed hurts?

I have a name but I should have been nameless,

easier to breathe, shorter paths,

even for a while forgetting about names,

names are heavier than each snowfall.

Translated by Marit MacArthur and Marta Pilarska