International Zoo (April 16, 2013)

April 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Quite an odd prompt (which means it’s unfamiliar to me), which became fun: take a poem written in another language, use the written word to imagine another meaning, and “translate”.  I spent very little time on this, so please forgive the roughness.  First, I’ll post my poem,, then the Polish, then the translation, so you don’t have to do the work.  I didn’t read the translation first.

International Zoo (Villars)

A sleepy zoo opens internationally
with decisive mojo.

Solemn mortals — Papi, Karen —
chew zesty ravioli.
Trouble’s waiting.

We don’t mean to be depressed.
Kotya Anna isn’t feeling well.
It’s a mystery at Verdun
and crazy dancing at Auschwitz.

No wildness, cries, or scares,
please kindness and zygotes.
No aching.


Sklepy zoologiczne. Obóz internowanych
z mojego dzieciństwa.

Świnki morskie. Papugi. Kanarki.
Chorowity zapach niewoli.
Trociny wydarzeń.

W domu wypluwałam depresję.
Kotka Antygona nie pokazała się więcej.
Łapki na myszy spod Verdun
i potem ciąg dalszy aż do Auschwitz.

Nie wiedziałam czym się to skończy
kiedy zgłaszałam się do życia.
Na ochotnika.

PET SHOPS (translation by Davidson and Nowakowska)

Pet shops.
The internment camp
from my childhood.

Guinea pigs. Parrots. Canaries.
The sickly scent of captivity.
Sawdust of events.

At home I spat out depression.
Antigone the cat didn’t show up any more.
A mousetrap from Verdun
and then all the way to Auschwitz.

I didn’t know how it would end
when I signed up for life.
A volunteer.


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