Three Poems by Dariusz Sosnicki

BOA Editions characterizes the poetry of Dariusz Sośnicki by its ability to "open our eyes to the sublime just beneath the surface of the mundane." The Polish writer's poetic inventory includes a train that takes children away from their parents for summer vacation and turns into a ravenous monster; a meal at a Chinese restaurant that inspires a surreal journey through the zodiac; and a malfunctioning printer that reminds of the ghosts that haunt us no matter where we find ourselves. The World Shared, the bilingual edition translated by Piotr Florczyk and Boris Dralyuk in which the three poems below appear, forthcoming from BOA in June 2014, is a dream-catalogue of surrealist riffs and humble strangeness. "Earthly Delights" previously appeared in New Orleans Review, "Monster" previously appeared in The New Yorker, and "A Mouse in a Bucket" appears here for the first time.


The train, which I took back
across the great plain,
I tell you, it was a monster
with a swollen belly.

It had a lair in Puławy,
ravened in Warsaw;
children greeted it
and it swallowed them.

Now they’re playing together—
the boys from the blocks,
the girls with matches,
Aesculapius in a palaestra.

Their parents have managed
to toss each one a toy:
hamsters in an aquarium,
a PlayStation, and a stamp album.

The parents are getting older,
longing consumes them,
now it’s they who come
to greet the travelers.

They look at their watches
through dark glasses,
and would like to light up,
but where’s the fire?

Until the icebreaker Sadness
weighs anchor.
Until the Summer School
of Common Language begins.

I was there, I know what I’m saying,
it was a thick monster—
the train, which I took back
across the great plain.


A Mouse in a Bucket

I can’t believe you fell in here by your own fault
or that some bird basketball player has dropped you.
It’s payback for my putting away the rest of my stuff
and that tapping on windows that no longer wakes me.

I don’t think any of your relatives is rotting in the well,
but I can eat snow, as long as it’s here. Washing
will be like it was during my dark childhood,
when I hid my face in the soapy water left by my stronger brother.

I detach the rod from the pump and, carrying you, think
that you've had your five minutes — five, because you’re smaller;
I throw you between the trash and slowly come back,
leaving the bucket for the cold to disinfect.

I was gone a few days, so the walls in the room
used up all the oxygen. I walk over to the window and
airing out, I encrypt, with my finger on the glass, without a code:
“The ring of encirclement has suddenly tightened.”


Earthly Delights

A refrigerator in hot weather, working

The green eyes of a cat, an oasis of calm
during a renovation that stretches to the horizon

Three-month-old leather shoes, very solid

The vacuum of the bigger city, taking away equally from all

A room in the bigger city, private

Coffee too early in the morning
and another in the evening, after a dinner too late

The return from the bigger city, at night, after a week of work

The post-German slenderness of small town W
after the Russian pierogies of small towns X, Y and Z

A shadow in a window on the outskirts of the smaller city —
a woman’s, from the waist up

Pain in the muscles after exertion
better than pain after nothing

Shower after traveling

Agreeable people after quarreling people

After indecisive people, people that are ready
but not for anything

A good night’s sleep for anything, even death

Lots of books, various


Dariusz Sośnicki is a poet, essayist, and editor. In 1994, he published the poetry collection Marlewo, which received Czas Kultury’s Best First Book Award. Sośnicki’s poems and literary essays have been published in many magazines and anthologies, including The New Yorker, in both Polish and in translation. Sośnicki currently works at W.A.B. Publishing House and lives in Poznań, Poland.

Piotr Florczyk is a poet, essayist, and translator from his native Polish. He is editor and translator of Froth: Poems by Jaroslaw Mikolajewski (Calypso Editions, 2013), The Folding Star and Other Poems by Jacek Gutorow (BOA Editions, 2012), Building the Barricade and Other Poems of Anna Swir (Calypso Editions, 2011), and Been and Gone: Poems of Julian Kornhauser (Marick Press, 2009). He teaches at the University of San Diego and at San Diego State University.

Boris Dralyuk holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from UCLA. He is the translator of Leo Tolstoy's How Much Land Does a Man Need (Calypso Editions, 2010), A Slap in the Face: Four Russian Furturist Manifestos (Insert Blanc Press, 2013), and Anton Chekhov's Little Trilogu (forthcoming from Calypso Editions, 2014), and co-translator of Polina Barskova's The Zoe in Winter: Selected Poems (Melville House, 2011). He is also the co-editor, with Robert Chandler and Irina Mashinski, of the forthcoming Anthology of Russian Poetry from Puskin to Brodsky (Penguin Classics, 2015). He received First Prize in the 2011 Compass Translation Award competition, and, with Irina Mashinski, First Prize in the 2012 Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Translation Prize competition.

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