Miłosz Biedrzycki

Photo by Paulina Zielona

Miłosz Biedrzycki


Read by Piotr Czarnota, recorded by Radiofonia Association.
English translation by Frank L. Vigoda

Atthinam nagaram katam mamsalohitalepanam

yattha jara ca maccu ca mano makkho ca ohito[1]



a city of flesh and blood, bones and sinew

moves within the city of stone

now very big now very small


—enormous when on urgent business you need to rush

across the vast expanse from Kurdwanów to Widok

or from Borek to Stogi, from one outstretched


hand to another. all the bridges are jammed.

says a cheerful voice on the radio, completely jammed,

yep, all the way to the cemetery.


—tiny when passing another day pondering, pacing

the pavement on the Grodzka-Floriańska axis

the world outside the Ring doesn’t count


the atoms outside this blood don’t count,

the ones inside still count—and won’t add up

you have to throw them some clever little molecules


but the Dealer will take care of this. the point

(in the split between St. Florian

squinting from above, and the Hamburgers below)


when you give up even trotting around.

this is where the city is smallest. it shrinks to a point.

and the largest. blood scatters over the galaxies


this city is very small. just a few villas

with a good view—even the neighbors (also

Salwator, but nearer the end of the line) are below


to say nothing of the rest. it is very large.

from the well-lit tram stop some seven

mountain ranges and seven canyons between blocks


luckily the Kazimierzowskis with bats, the Golden Agers

with knuckles, the Enlightenmenters with blades,

the Piasts with butterfly knives and the Heroes of September


using nothing but boots like true sportsmen—haven’t

yet spotted you. you can count yourself lucky

and sing heaven’s praises. because the city is very musical.




* * *


the city of bones and blood tosses and turns in an anxious dream

the city of stone, small as an egg, lies in the foliage

(as the poet from Lithuania put it—actually he lived on Bogusławskiego Street)


under the envious brother’s taller tower—and under the shorter, that of the murdered one,

instead of cabbies, the frozen booming of the Jaszczury club,

the late street cleaning truck wades through the huge quicksand mirror, the Marketplace


through Szeroka, Rynek Dębnicki, Rynek Podgórski, Plac Centralny,

through neighborhood squares with nasturtiums and carrots

through the alleys of the torso, lanes of fingers, the pavement of this poem—



[1]This city is built up of bones, plastered with flesh and blood; within it are decay

and death, pride and jealousy. Or something in this vein, equally unconstructive.


English translation by Frank L. Vigoda

Miłosz Biedrzycki

(born in 1967) poet, translator, geophysicist.
Known also as MLB, Biedrzycki was part of the so-called “Brulion generation” and co-founder of “O’Harism” – a trend in Polish poetry inspired by the works of Frank O’Hara. He published several collections of poems, including OO (1994) and Porumb (2013). His works have been awarded with the Grand Prix of the Brulion Poetycki Competition in 1993 and the prize of Czas Kultury in 1994.
Biedrzycki was born in a Polish-Slovenian family. His mother is a translator of Slovenian literature, and his uncle is a Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun, whose poems have been translated into Polish by MLB. Biedrzycki translated also, together with Ewa Chruściel, poems by Jorie Graham and Lorie Swenson. His own texts, on the other hand, have been published in the following languages: Slovenian, Italian, German, Spanish, Catalan, Czech, Russian and English.
He graduated from Krakow AGH University of Science and Technology and he works as a geophysical engineer. He lectures also at the Studium Literacko-Artystyczne (Literary-Artistic Post-Graduate Course) at the Jagiellonian University, which is Krakow’s “school of writers”. (mj)
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