Piotr Macierzynski



Translated from Polish by Scotia Gilroy




my parents often had to go to my school
to complain that i’d been beaten up again
once my father told me
i wish that at least once i’d be called
because you beat someone up
but you’re always the wimp

and one day i succeeded

there was a disabled girl at our school

i fought for my father’s love




dad used to go to the capital to have his prosthetic leg fitted
once he took me with him
he wanted to get it done fast
so he skipped the line to the technician’s office
leaving me in front of the examination room
i understood then what he needed me for
he said he was with a sick child

i had tears in my eyes
when the cripples asked me what illness i had

they were mostly war veterans
who had left their legs on a battlefield
normally father would have to let them go first
because he’d lost his through stupidity

i promised myself that if mine ever gets amputated
i won’t cut veterans in line

when dad came out
he had to push his way through a raging crowd of invalids
everyone with a limp except me

later he showed me some monuments
but to me Warsaw was a city of people missing limbs

in the tram i burst into tears
he told me to be a man
after all we’d never see them again
and we saved two hours




dad had a black belt in putting people down
he told me repeatedly
that according to what he knew from grandpa
Auschwitz would’ve been an ideal place
for my further education
finally i’d learn to be punctual resourceful tidy
when i returned home late
he transformed into Pontius Pilate
one time when we were taking the bus together
he read the regulations
using public transport with repulsive things is prohibited
he said
look, there’s something about you here
we became bound by a thread of mistrust
whenever we talked i always felt as if i were a tiny worm
which had crawled into a pickle jar
and father twisted the lid shut
and shouted you loser
once he told me that i’m not even worth spitting at
actually i was happy about that
at christmas i complained to my mother
that there was no affection in our house
she responded what do you mean
you’ve never been beaten

i often dream of a dog tied to a tree
with five shots five złoty written above it
and father collecting the money




i imagine how wonderful it would be
if my father died

people get used to each other
especially if they live under the same ceiling
but somehow i never managed

i don’t believe in affection stemming from blood and bones
my uncle played chess with me
even though he knew he’d win
and in this way he paid more attention
to my upbringing than my father

the arguments ended only fourteen years ago
when dad stopped talking to me

i can’t actually say a single bad thing about him
while i was a kid he never threw me out of the house
he gave me his last name and kept me overfed

if it weren’t for my mother
i would think that humans shout to communicate
and i wouldn’t know any terms of endearment

like most strangers
i don’t wish him any harm
i just imagine how wonderful it would be
if my father had died
when i was young
and i could think that i miss him


PIOTR MACIERZYŃSKI (born 1971) is a Polish poet whose works have appeared in numerous publications, including Studium, Kwartalnik Artystyczny, Lampa, Akcent, Ha!art, Opcje, and Czas Kultury. He has published the following chapbooks: Danse macabre i inne sposoby spędzania wolnego czasu [Danse Macabre and Other Ways of Spending Free Time] (2001), tfu, tfu [ugh!] (2004), Odrzuty [Rejects] (2007), Zbiór zadań z chemii i metafizyki [Chemistry and Metaphysics Exercise Book] (2009), antologia wierszy ss-mańskich [An Anthology of SS-Man Poems] (2011).


About the translator:

Scotia Gilroy
SCOTIA GILROY is a literary translator, writer, cultural journalist and musician from Vancouver, Canada, currently living in Krakow, Poland. She holds a degree in literature from Simon Fraser University (Canada). She has taught English at the Jagiellonian University (Krakow), and currently works as a book editor for the university’s academic press. She also works as a Polish-English translator for numerous cultural institutions and literary publishers in Poland, and edits Ad Americam, the Jagiellonian University’s annual journal of American studies. Her fiction has appeared in the anthology Warsaw Tales, the Berlin-based journal Bordercrossing Berlin and the Krakow Post.


Read more by Piotr Macierzyński

Author’s website (In Polish)