Translated from the Polish by Piotr Gwiazda


The Bathrobe

‘I’ll leave you half of my forest,’ promised a dying JRiis.
Then he changed his mind. ‘No, I’ll drink it away.
I still have time to drink it away?’
He sold it to a fur dealer

from Norway. He made $50,000.
He drank for several months,
treated neighborhood girls to French wine
(they carried away his furniture and china).

He called me to thank me for the bathrobe.
‘I still have $2,000. Do you think I can get to heaven
with zero balance and a virus?’
And only then he kicked the bucket.





He looked like an aged bird.
He stood to the side of the group and stared
at his fellow penguins gobbling fish.
He reminded me of someone.
(I sensed defeat in him.)
Exported to a foreign country,
slowly fading in Copenhagen’s
zoological garden.
I couldn’t offer him any
help. Maybe he was born in captivity,
I comforted myself.
The old penguin read my mind.
He plunged in and his mood
visibly improved. One shouldn’t
interfere with animal life, I thought.
Since then I’ve never gone back
to the zoo.



Photograph © FraserElliot

Putting Down Strangers
Three Poems