Sunday, March 4, 2012

Three poems by Tomasz Jastrun from "On the Crossroads Of Asia and Europe"


On the soldiers' shoulders
Ride the white doves of peace
With their eyes poked out

As long as the Afghan people
Are in need of help
The soldiers will remain
And remain and remain

We cry out
Butterflies and crickets in bondage
But who will understand
The language of butterflies and crickets

Those breathing freedom
Have a different set of problems
A shorter memory
They slip off to sleep untroubled
One day to wake up
In Afghanistan


After us will be neither scrap metal
Nor a laugh
From beginning to end
We have had no illusions
All our uprisings
Lie packed in the foyer
Along with a toothbrush
And towel

When someone knocks on the door
The echo
Pounds through the empty years
But there is no call to action
No convoy to Siberia
Only the upstairs neighbor whose sink
Once again has overflowed
He comes wringing his hands to warn us

"Last Supper"

Thirteen of us still not released
A full table
Though missing
Are Christ and Judas
Victims of a cruel death

And we the living
Are joined together
To share our lost cause
The hand
With the rusted nail

These poems by Tomasz Jastrun appear in his prose and poetry collection On the Crossroads of Asia and Europe and are translated by David Bourne, published by Salmon Run Press, 2010. They appear at Artful Dodge, Bourne's online journal of writing in translation. Jastrun, born in Warsaw in 1950, was a member of Solidarity and his novels and essays have been published since 1978. He has written that The biggest psychological problem people have is giving and taking affection. On the Crossroads of Asia and Europe originally appeared, in Polish, in 1982.

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