Milan Děžinský


They’re having a picnic, but it looks as
if they were taking the tools out of the car in an emergency,
or they are taking the tools out of the car,
but it looks as if they were going out on a picnic.
A body does not thrust itself against the floor of an elevator,
but the elevator against the body.
Dusk does not fall upon the city,
the city slides creeping in beneath the dusk.
The hawk does not propel itself towards the mouse,
the mouse catapults itself against the predator.
At the opposite bank a barge rolls the river under itself.
We are not approaching our end,
but from ultimate emptiness
the end is hurtling towards us.


I would like to have a woman’s empathy.
What do they think about when they’re shaving?
It’s stopped raining. I’m looking out into the yard,
above which a bird is fitfully circling.
I looked in the encyclopedia.
I have never seen a sparrowhawk,
it suddenly struck me that I would die
without ever having seen a sparrowhawk,
or worse still –
I’d die while chewing something –
or otherwise ridiculously –
with one foot in a pant leg –



The power,
when a poem is not created, but comes into being,
when it settles in grooves like a tree ring in the furniture,
it creaks and in its quivering disturbs
the peace of the dust.
I lurk behind the moment like a hunter
rubbing a numbed leg.
Spring dawns above the wing of the forest,
the hunter cools his cheek against the gun barrel,
which will, any moment,
certainly turn into an antler.


I have a metaphor in mind,
large and complicated,
when in the morning from my bowl of muesli
I clumsily fish out a precious
it’s burrowing all the way to the bottom.
I, vigilant hunter,
will find it in the end.
That effort is rewarded with delight,
though what’s left is a lot of muesli
without nuts.

MILAN DĚŽINSKÝ is a Czech poet and translator. He studied pedagogy of Czech and English Languages at The University of J.E. Purkyně in Ústí nad Labem. Five of his collections of poetry have been published, three of which – Slovník Noci (Host 2003), Přízraky (Host 2007) and Tajný Život (Host 2012) – have been nominated for the Magnesia Litera Prize for poetry. His translated works of poetry from English include Emily Dickinson, Phil Norton, Bruce Dawe, W.C. Williams. He lives and works as an English Teacher in Roudnice nad Labem, Czech Republic.

Read more by Milan Děžinský:

Three more poems in B O D Y

About the Translator:

NATHAN FIELDS has translated contemporary Czech literature into English in the form of novels, short stories, screenplays and scripts, and poetry. He has received praise for his translations of Jan Balabán (Zeptej se táty) as well as works by Jáchym Topol, Edgar Dutka, Petra Hůlová and Miloš Urban. With a degree in Literature and Writing, he has been teaching English and translating in Prague for over a decade.