Issue 29: Rod Mengham translates Radek Jurczak



Sometimes the self is a date line change

like a suspect idea on Senegalese servers

or a fish dragged out of the air


that’s how the self is sometimes, the self is a hand

never an eye though


someone else is an eye it is always someone else’s

and the self is sometimes something in city gardens and in hyperlinks


on streets and in squares (#in_the_Campo_di_Fiori)

the self is sometimes an ancient Greek who happens not to be Socrates

because there are other things to do, like getting out onto the streets


sometimes the self is the most external form of memory

in fact the perfect memory: a small black flashdrive

whose most straightforward daemon says zero one


it is also sometimes the moment when techno dies

and yet something carries on, as hits, hits, hits 

and it’s not even music but a whole continent


sometimes the self is a date line change

like a suspect idea on Senegalese servers

or a fish dragged out of the air

Just like that, O Europe


and it’s this which is choking

                                                on something


This elegy is not about Palestine


One more thing about mirrors: the TV on the wall

knows everything but says nothing for/ to every Palestine


except during the ads there’s a cheap Turkish music video with no sound

And another thing about mirrors: all over Palestine


there are none because there is no Palestine now

(and another thing about mirrors: Palestine is here


in front of a mirrorless wall, reading the music in dance moves

Palestine is here wrapping kebabs in silence


Palestine is here   but is always gone by morning)  


Elegy for the Department of Game Theory

and Social Mathematics at the University of Warsaw


Spam is the order of things and will kill us all one day

if we don’t build up our defences.  Out of cardboard boxes under Hala Banacha


random Vietnamese are selling calculators

(there are random processes as well: when you are a Vietnamese kid


in a trashy Vietnamese t-shirt with an uncle who is a mathematician

or when you are that uncle: sending home money


and emails as neutral as oxygen) and you need to know this on top:

how much you could earn with all these calculators


being a Vietnamese kid (but you don’t know: so be like that kid

and know nothing about numbers yet still sell your calculators


every day at the metro exit casting your leaflets on to the ground

as an offering to the gods of the underworld because who the fuck


would read them in Polish). So the old statistician dreams he’s a thin slice of

oxygen or dreams that he’s his very own model: vast are the rice fields


and sunlit the villages: but nobody knows about this:

and under the ground every single blade of rice is calculating profit and loss

(so just let it be this profit and loss). And on every single atom of oxygen


there are tiny little counters (if you breathe in quickly enough, that is).    



Spam is the order of things and if it doesn’t make us stronger

we will understand it eventually. Out of cardboard boxes under Hala Banacha

they are selling calculators  Der Tod ist ein Statistiker

aus Vietnam  (and air is held together by one atom of oxygen).  


Villanelle for Jacek S.


             In June Jacek S. blew himself up in Iraq,

             the first Polish suicide bomber

             from the ranks of Islamic State.

             (Samsung S1 auto-infobar  12.08.2015)


that the world decides the language of our borders

(in Arabic mostly) that on the coastline of the city

(where the camps grow) that there is also noise reduction


that will one day save us (the poem is neither about this

nor about sudden death but a preliminary

focus: that determines the language) Our borders


were not settled by us: Jacek, there are questions

that I will not ask because I know what is coming

is unclear and I would like to believe in noise reduction


(because, Jacek, we decide the language of the answer for ourselves)

This is obviously the temptation: to go inside the self,

and not find oneself, or any edges to the self.


Know what, Jacek, sometimes I just have this sudden need to gather

old memes (which might be because we can only grow anew

from the same old root). Is this where the noise reduction comes in


or is it just a form of sacrifice?  You see Jacek this is before

we find out that there are camps and cities

and memes (which will save us if we have noise reduction.)

And now I will tell you all about settling the borders:


# ecological


And we used to play ‘Fallout’ so it wouldn’t befall us  as a portent

the hazy air the end of seasides the end of crops


(I’m not going to say here what it’s like to live inside a

Geiger counter: with a glow above your head and strange

                                                        digits underfoot)


SysRq (this elegy is about the state of knowledge)


                On his twentieth birthday…


The internet has ripened and you can pluck its fruit

by the handful (four bomb attacks yesterday


in a city I haven’t been to) The screen makes my fingers dirty

with its light: I’m watching attacks in a city I haven’t been to


(in dreams I am an empty room with 1000 open doors

and 1000 little lights just like a server) until my fingers


go numb from the light (and I stuff the light in with my hands).

Would it make things easier if I could get inside the images


inside the descriptions?  To expose the eye: in the April sunshine once

I was sitting in a park and watching a dying bee


(and my question is for those who want the details

and do not think it a non-event).  Hand in hand or solo


I used to go in the mornings or at night to places as uncertain as the eye

in dreams I used to be a camera (which also betrays the eye). I’ve seen the best


minds of my generation in hipster cafes (I left because

there was a bigger world outside). Sometimes under the North Bridge

where a homeless friend froze to death and saving him in a poem

was a simple reflex (frontal lobe hypothalamus:


(I had also lived there).  Moreover: I know a hell of a lot of flats

all empty inside and I remember how the neon of M&S


thinks in either Latin or Unicode

(also how to sleep on a round trip in an empty tram:


in dreams sometimes I’m a man dreaming he’s an empty room

with forty thousand empty spaces where the doors used to be).


But coming back: there were these places and I stuffed in light with my hands

(and when I ran out of hands I just didn’t eat) but now I watch bombings


and only think about the place: how once in April there was the death of a bee

(: I see it, then debug it, because I yearn for thee


I saw there was some law at work but I didn’t know what

(I saw there was some law at work but I didn’t know what) 








[Rod Mengham’s most recent book was Midnight in the Kant Hotel: Art in Present Times (Carcanet: 2021).  He is currently working with Marta Koronkiewicz and Pawel Kaczmarski on an anthology of avant garde poetry by the younger generation of Polish poets. 

Radek Jurzcak, b.1995 in Poland, received the Silesius Wroclaw Poetry Award for his first book External Memory (2016). He was also winner of the 21st Jacek Bierezin National Poetry Award in 2015. Having studied philosophy and mathematics at Warsaw University, he now works as a machine-learning engineer.]

Copyright © 2022 by Rod Mengham, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.

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