March 18, 2015KR OnlinePoetry

Times Are Tough

Translated from Polish by Benjamin Paloff

They arose, those whom hunger tormented, myself
not included, I didn’t arise. My recourse
was puns. That summer I walked
along the Rhine speaking of the Vistula, which,
like melted cheese, runs through
Poland. The fatherland of pizza is Italy. Poland
is like pizza: everybody
wants a piece. That summer
the papers didn’t react to
what was going on at home, the Rhine was
polluted, everything pointed to my having
overstayed my welcome. Like it was my fault?
Is youth a sin? Is youth
a sin in a game in which all
the pieces have been used, and we
play with stand-ins?

Krzysztof Jaworski was born in Kielce, Poland, in 1966, and has written over a dozen books, most recently To the Marrow, an avant-garde novel about his experience with cancer. Benjamin Paloff is the author of two collections of poems, And His Orchestra (Carnegie Mellon, 2015) and The Politics (Carnegie Mellon, 2011), and has translated several books from Polish, including Lodgings: Selected Poems of Andrzej Sosnowski (Open Letter, 2011). He teaches literature and critical theory at the University of Michigan.