These letters of poetry were written between 1991 and 1994 in Chicago and come with a volume titled "The Legend of the Search of the Fatherland", published in 2001 in Dzierzonowie by Dzierzoniowski Osrodek Kultury "Pegaz".
Are you interested in politics?
No, I have a distaste,
am disgusted by politics. I despise any ideology.
I think of politicians as crooks, thieves,
swindlers. I’m bitter,
ashamed of their behavior. Two percent
govern the whole country.
Money became accustomed to its own power.
Authority commits an offense.
I’m afraid of politicians. I’m unsure
of my safety. This country is
a personal enemy. I would not give power
to the poets, but also I would not prostrate
to millionaires who do not read poems.
You have escaped to freedom—what’s next?
Now you have freedom—now, what’s next?
Do you feel not free? You do not sin
through speech or writing. You are to
preach the truth. But no one
listens to you. A fisherman throws nets,
bankers steal, politicians practice deceit.
Neither you nor I exercise our
freedom. You cannot afford it.
I know its price.
Seven years have passed since the fall of communism,
and you are still in exile—why?
The very joy of writing generates more happiness
than sharing it with others.
The role of the artist in exile:
to be in exile is to suffer,
and not to stand up for fame and notoriety.
Artists are patient, long-lived,
love God first (although it escaped)
and then the homeland.
They stole a little from the past
to weave a banner of the present.
The immigrant has his own distinctive character
just like any other legendary land,
that’s why we are not coming back.
Recently, much has been said about the Jewish people.
Have you met any Polish Jews in America?
In America, I met a number of Polish Jews
—how do I see them?
It has been said they are the spells of Angels,
with black fingers of ink,
eyes dray as the forgotten wells,
and dusty framed mirrors,
night in the thick frame,
lovers of old books and truths
who guard their secrets and memories,
and write new history.
Sometimes I think of them—
mystical birds from a distant time
shadowing my future,
descendants of the Biblical Creator
praying for the same thing:
a whole life upon a bed of roses.
Is it hard to be a Pole in America?
For several years I lived in Poland,
and it was hard to be a Pole among Poles.
Yesterday an American adolescent
challenged me to distinguish myself
from the stupid Poles.
He wanted me to give him
a dollar. I then offered him
just one dollar to save me
from a name-calling. I realized
what little Kosciuszko, Pulaski
are worth in American history.
For a dollar, you cannot buy for him
the recognition of a Pole’s worth.
I’m stupid, I thought, opening the car door.
I’m stupid, I thought, entering Highway 55.
I’m stupid and my stupidity is as big as America
from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
I passed Chicago’s downtown heading north,
and I’m stupid—and it’s interesting I thought—
I’m a stupid Pole, for those who need something from me,
there are also those who need someone to scorn
to feel better, to calm their neuroses.
I do not suffer because of this, and I am aware
that poor people need me
as bread, air, water.
Write something about America.
Write “something” about America?
Can one who has only been here a few months?
(I have read many works on this theme.)
“Something” as great as America
is difficult to describe.
“Something” believes in the existence of
children born with silver spoons in their mouths.
America simply described as a dream,
or many dreams loosely connected:
severed head diving into the space of night,
and the racket trapped at the root of the spine
with the weights of feet.
I did not think about it for a long time at all.
Now I care. Listen to my advice:
do not swim, my ship,
where the rushing waves
and shining Cyclades
dream fantasy screams.
As a tortured soul, a guide, or mentor,
America does not speak to the soul,
she talks to wallets, banks, corporations.
The tower of ivory
you know—and I found nothing
in America, only surprise
You now have been outside Poland for so many years.
Write something about language.
My Polish language-jug, pour the words
mash the language of stone.
My Polish was flour for dumplings
and the mill and the brook murmuring secrets to the rain,
mowed hay smelling meadow,
Traces of stork feet.
My Polish was a woman with round breasts,
slender thighs, stomach, mind
and flat like a porcelain saucer.
My language—to understand it, I had to go through
a long and dangerous journey,
where the warriors were human bodies
with the heads of hawks and dogs with faces of devils.
Birds were laughing at me scornfully
with the factory siren’s voice.
Fish tails combing the branches,
I survived the terrors of surrealistic communism,
and I came to the paradise of capitalist modernity.
Language is not the key—it is always the lock.
Language does not describe things,
but the relationship between them,
reality ruled by giants.
An upstart tribe,
and the world changed
the remaining trees and people,
sidewalks and roads,
fish in the sea.
How many ruins?
In the air,
the smell of stink bombs,
iron pillars rotting in the mud.
Talk about the existence of things
in the pantheon of our memory.
Come to America, a salvation and a curse.
Write something about your visits to Pieszyce.
I go to Pieszyce as nineteenth century patients to the spa.
O! I spent many years talking about Pieszyce.
on the Pacific coast, on Lake Michigan.
Pieszyce is still the most important form
wherever I begin to fill it out—
a word – a burden in my mouth when I think
Pieszyce, the first letter of my alphabet
Pieszyce, the word is faster than my thoughts.
It can jump over walls and fences, gardens,
rivers and oceans.
Pieszyce are the memories and reams living under my skin,
mother tears of pearls and father drops of vodka,
a path among a row of chestnuts,
my grandmother’s lips whispering prayers.
Pieszyce is a story about what happened,
but did not have to happen,
about great hopes and pains,
the birth of a man
on the other side of the ocean
Where he did not know
who he is and whom he would become.
Temptation and danger are everywhere waiting,
and thoughts about war, full of images of the worst,
it was hard to chase.
In order to live I had to learn everything
from the beginning, and if someone can be saved,
it is only myself and the town Pieszyce in itself.
You walk a lot in Chicago. Describe a neighborhood.
I have written about the streets named Milwaukee, Archer, Belmont, Michigan, Fullerton, and where I live in Logan Square. Writing about the richness of these areas now is boring, just like writing about the poverty, which is the same everywhere.
This time maybe I’ll write about the Gold Coast.
Working class poet Carl Sandburg wrote about this district
and on one of the streets named in his honor,
there are beautiful and the richest houses upwards of one hundred years old
that do not feel the blood of murdered animals and the sweat of immigrants,
since everything has long been perfumed
and cleared, fine and dandy, the bathrooms are marble,
and mahogany staircases, and in the home not only smells
of dreams but old age, which likes the convenience
of comfort and space, the apartments have high ceilings,
well lit, through the transparent glass
you can see how millionaires are furnished.
If you have a house in such a place,
and with a library with a large fireplace
a servant will put a bookmark in a book
when your languid head will collapse into sleep.
Write, if you enjoy your stay in Chicago.
I greet the world from Chicago,
the place of which I am fully satisfied
despite my 10,000 kilometers from Pieszyce.
Though the bookshop window I look onto the face of the world,
and if I were a Chinese painter
I would paint him whole with a thin line.
I celebrate my freedom,
the freedom to sing my poems
more than anything.
I know it all, along with Anne created
all my own world and the cosmos
flowing in my veins—that is my life.
I greet the world each morning.
I greet the world each evening,
I greet the world each evening,
the sound opened and closed the door.
I am happy with it, his wealth of such great size.
I am glad that I put in it
my leg and took a few steps.