Harbingers of the Deaths of Parrots

Poetry Krzysztof Jaworski
Translated from the Polish by Benjamin Paloff

Perhaps the songs they sang for us
were not those we’d have wanted to hear,
but who among us can, with a clean conscience,
say of himself that what matters to him
is what others listen to. Others who
often don’t feel like listening,
for lack of time, or lack of ears,
it’s not important.
Perhaps he had a knife to his throat,
a thermometer up his butt, pressing deadlines. Perhaps
he had a weak appreciation of the state his teeth were in—
there’s nothing more treacherous
than a healthy tooth!
“Thank God I don’t have to write any more books
on parrots,” he would say. An exaggeration, in my opinion.
It got to the point that society
would no longer tolerate him. “How long can you tolerate
a guy who belts out
funeral marches?” they asked well before
the body was cold.

Benjamin Paloff is the author of two collections of poems, The Politics and the forthcoming And His Orchestra (both Carnegie Mellon University Press). He has translated several books from Polish, including Lodgings: Selected Poems of Andrzej Sosnowski (Open Letter). He teaches literature and critical theory at the University of Michigan.

“Each new issue feels like a public report from many individual private spheres.” —Antoine Wilson

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Issue 22



Winter 2015


Krzysztof Jaworski was born in Kielce, Poland, and is the author of over a dozen books, including Drażniące przyjemności, 1988–2008 (Irksome pleasures: collected poems 1988-2008) and, most recently, Do szpiku kości (To the marrow), an avant-garde novel about his experience with cancer. Both titles are available from the Polish press Biuro Literackie.


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