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The New Century

The New Century

                     from Words Without Borders, September 2007

The new century has come as no surprise.
After midnight we already call it by name.
Your dress lies beside the bed.
My suit a pirate flag.
Reports warn us
about the slippery surface of history.
The question of what comes next
we send back to the gala.
We speak to each other in fireworks.
A drowsy noun in the mouth.
We subject breakfast to laboratory tests.
314 calories on a white plate.
We’re zipped fast
into a lifeproof vest.



December 31, 1999

All the poets will write about it.
Even the illiterate ones.
There will be rumors that it is the last.
That after this, comes only metal-plated fear.
A compass drawing square.

But the night won’t be childless.
Taking by surprise the doubting suicides
and gullible priests,
the New Year’s infant
will scream at midnight.

The sudden hawk of a wind
will bend the willow.
The compass will indicate
there is no other choice.
The usual drill of the hours.

Your birthday. Despite everything.
A compass drawing square.

The compass will indicate
there is no other choice.
The usual drill of the hours.

Your birthday. Despite everything.
A compass drawing square.



2001, dear Mrs. Schubert, is not only the beginning
of the new century, but also the number of my imagination.
As you know, for some time now my fiction
has resented my flirting with reality,
consorting with useless time.
I therefore inform you that the dead season is coming,
which, as usual, I am spending
on the short-term list of missing persons.




Newton’s Orange:

          from Poetry International

They already were.

They fight a losing battle of dates.
Blurred. Against a background of surly clouds.

In the Hollywood movie theater
a train of abandoned seats whistles.

The remains of films
still breathe through the screen’s lips.

“But Venice for me is so much like
the graveyard of happiness that I haven’t
the strength to return”—wrote Marcel Proust.

We are now.

In love’s globalization
we succumb to sensuous market forces.
Speculative fireworks.

The corrupt bed linens of Shakespeare
in the national theater.

A city of muscular stadiums
clings to us.

A pirated copy of prosperity.

The penitence of a wilted rose
tells us nothing yet.

Arrhythmia of infinity.
Gigabytes of memory.

At dawn
a bigoted breeze shivers.

Norton AntiVirus software
scans our lungs.

All around
the broken glass of frost.

You are yet to be.

On a balcony a woman
a cloud resembling a kiss.

New Year’s Eve night is trembling.

The twenty-second century.
The twenty-third century.
The twenty-fourth century.

We are connected
by a dye works of sunrises and sunsets.
A polishing shop of magic, words, and fire.

They divide us forever.


“The world of Ewa Lipska's poetry is a world of madness, of unpredictability, a world from which nothing good can be expected. Why then in reading these poems do we experience, in spite of everything, the joy and desire of being alive even more intensely?”

                                                      —Wisława Szymborska, 2009

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