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Three poems by Miłosz Biedrzycki translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft

from: MLB, Sofostrofa i inne wiersze, Kraków 2007
MLB, Porumb, Poznań 2013



9 beers for ox-calling

The castors on the chair bellow like a wounded bull, weevil.
Except the hearing is more sensitive this Tuesday morning
excessive as a peeking squirrel.
I remember Erzsébet Bridge, women
were shaving their pits there back
at the beginning of the seventies,
says Wojtek wistfully. You can never tell
what’s going to stick in a child’s mind.
Or in a grown-up’s, I say, slurping down a swig.



The Horse that Spoke the Languages of the West

It appears horses have a thing with their eyes
which is why they let themselves be mounted.
Because the rider, as they see him, is greater.

It appears to be a good idea
to exchange witty little remarks
with new girls, while the old, exasperated ones

get dispatched with a knowing silence.
That way I would always have
the finest. But I wouldn’t be satisfied.

I have an appetite made bottomless
and fuck off. I’ll get to you all come nighttime.
Arching like an S or tensing like an I.

Under any conditions, I literally don’t give a shit.
But just the letter isn’t enough. That we know.

But knowing v. weeding. (wieder-
holen?) The rest I will stand by.
(ich weiss nicht) I am not white.

I am massive like a spectrometer,
just like how I separate (thongs?)
streams of colors.



Before He Died I Caught Czesław Miłosz

Before he died I caught Czesław Miłosz
eating pizza off of cardboard on Senacka Street.

Now I will never be able
to accept his authority.

I mean: he was eating. Wolfing it down. With his hands. He
who purportedly appreciated porcelain. Never.

If we discard the integrity of the work and the life,
what will be left? Anomie.

And you, what’s your grumble? That if you wrote in a poem
how you wring the necks of infants and snarf them up at breakfast?

First of all, we know you by now
and would know that you were kidding.

Most likely. And secondly, even if it were
true, that wouldn’t put you

in a good light at all.


Photo credit: Ewa Kotarbińska

Miłosz Biedrzycki – born in 1967, writes in Polish.





Jennifer Croft won a 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship for her novel The Extinction of Irena Rey (2024), the 2020 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for her illustrated memoir Homesick and the 2018 International Booker Prize for her translation from Polish of Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights.

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