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November Sunday

ISSUE:  Spring 1999
To lie in the street. To be
at the bottom of this puddle
dark as lead. Near the curb, in the muddy
cold water, to rot like the leaf
of a poplar. Underneath the streetlamp.
At the bottom of a puddle. Like a ticket
from a tram or the scrap of a newspaper
no one will ever read again.

Zbigniew Machej, translated by Daniel Bourne
[from Sweet Regrets]


The fried fish place
in winter
is closed.
Through the holes
in the doors
the dry snow
sucks itself in.
The purple herring
on the wall
on the sharp whitewash
and the needles of frost.
By the wall
two rows
of stools
one on top of the other
like an antediluvian

Zbigniew Machej, translated by Daniel Bourne
[from The Third Shore]


The suicide’s wife
turns in her sleep
to the other side.
In the procession
behind the cross
first go the children,
the infants sleeping
in their little red strollers.
In the white bucket

near the wall,
the blood stiffens.
And the black, cadaverous
neckties hang
there in the oak

Zbigniew Machej, translated by Daniel Bourne
[from The Third Shore]


The decision that the body makes
and the mind makes to stop

multiplying up anything
that’s good in him, completed,

like some ultimate contract
we all get to. The contact

of lithium so he’s barely
sitting some days, barely

sunny and summer. The television
picking up the pace of slow rot—

perhaps finally what will jangle
him crazy. Or vein bursts

from shaking like some terrible
blender left on and on tries

spitting out its edges.
The tragedy inside getting to be

that visible.
When I dream about my uncle

anymore there are butterflies
turning into bottles, the bottles

falling from the sky—terrible and beautiful
colors slashing the lawn.

Just butterflies tipping one
last one back. Their jazzy alcohol falling,

a full out kaleidoscope, for an ending.


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