Mark Tardi translates Robert Rybicki


             fuck the letters

             dazzle my frazzle

             sk(r)ew the course of association 
             with a different notion

             the dance of directions
             the bent axles
             secant of light
             the photon flare

             letters only






When will I stop dreaming
about the fucks from Greek mythology?

And when will I remember the words
that ran off into oblivion?
                             (It’s cool, clever, intense
                              like a glass of ginger water
                              or a volume with a B&W cover)
This washing machine has lost its fucking mind
                          while he ran across the city
                          & portals to other worlds opened up.

Why did I dream of a villa                                                   And on the other side, another villa
full of American poets?                                                        full of British poets?

A yawning face in sharp chiaroscuro is a reflected glass pane.
Who gave you a designate?
Do you assume anything?

The sea glued to bread.

A plain of stupidity.

Insert and eject verses like drawers
full of flies or poppy seed—
                                                                                                                      with a thunderbolt inside.

Here’s an estate of vacant wall-less prefabs.
Smile to a flower, get your lollypop & go there. 

A Nobody waits there. Next to him, a red diode
    splattered across the shiny crossroads             

                                                      of metal structures,

that float like balloons—
                                                        your eyes like blimps
                                                                          on towers’ spires.

The highway covered with blackened sunflowers.

A man with a beard like thistle. Buddy-buds.
Lanucy. Nocho. A Gummi bear bites at the camra.
Faith makes the deuterium. Sodium lamps
of consciousness. What the fuck are you talking about,
sheepman, a howler of sound. Feces
worth its weight in gold & truth.
Rattle me up, swing my bits. 
Click me in the ground, bone against
the stone, a pigeon falls down, speechless.
The coughing date keeps unclipping like a skyscraper 
keyring of a kid’s bawl. Crying
has a talent. Blood rumbles & shines,
gets reflected on the beat-up
film of memory, scratched up photographic
membrane, the mucosa of horror, 
the numbered telephones linger, three 
hours a day, eight hours 
a day, the week is burning, give it
magnesium, give it light, not
the nightlight, not the sun or the moon,
though it’s in full, not the eye, has
anyone seen an invisible light,
concealed by knowing, a light
from a different dimension, has
anyone seen it, it pours inside the self,
Nobody sees, the name disappears, the word
recedes, the rhythm is suspended,

                                         the dreams about nows, the idea in
                                         the light, the end, purity, unity,
                                         flight is no longer needed,
                                         plight is no longer needed,
                                         there’s no shape,
                                         no contour,           
                                         no matter,
                                         no text.

                                         Like a hand without a signature,
                                         the Mannequin of Gravitas
                                         opens its mouth to you.






To Swallow a Shadow—

                                                    these words are
                                                    nothing more than
                                                          tobacco specks 
                                                    on a sheet of paper
    (a mouth full of skeletons);
                me, out of my head,
                like a ball rolling towards the pocket.

               A dog’s tongue, 
               saliva; the trace 
               of existence.

    So many thoughts,
    over & over,   
    until he holes up in his head, 
    as if he were dreamed up by his tongue.

    From reproduction to contemplation:
    steppes & mountain ranges.

    Words, devoured
     by intention
     lose their dignity;

     a thought 
     chewed over
     till you’re chucking, tho still steady
                   in intersecting
      gales of snow                                  snów
      slow                                                  słów

       & this poor I,
       excluded from its power,

       standing at the gate
                                        OF THE GREAT CONTAINERYARD
       which used to have a name & form






                                        la palabra el 
                                        Cimo ni mo 
                                        bunco beardo
                                        maybe baby can-
                                        do nicely
                                        dolphin doobie
                                        en paradiso 
                                        & a face 
                                        so sprightly
                                        in solidarity
                                        let him come 
                                        to the N1 &
                                        she said, lesen
                                       & electro
                                       warm wine
                                       all the time 
                                       & Socrates
                                       Schwamm und Sprache







Preason. Swamingo.
Wristulla between pincers, in the chackles. 
out of nowswhere, down with it.
With the human rea

A knownot, fraction. Tuny. 

    Gim your hand. Bow brow
    to another, the other—


The inverted songpits
Agh awashed with mo. Of lamps. 

Mothness. Unspokement. A block.
It’s an unbreakon lan. Break

yoursell. Yell. Where’s he
fromm. An unvile

tongue unobtained from the viscera, 
ununfound, flashy, fleshy,
reckless in the extracts from its nature,
feckless in the descriptions of the blind,
though kind, inclined and refined;

in the prosody of perdition
in the music of martyrdom,

secretly give yourself 
an answer. Without experti.



of glass.

apartment buildings.

At the feet
& from up high.

    On the side of the road, 
    in the woods,

    all the same.


A blue 
signpost in sleepy ivy, 
when twilight lays a shadow 
on an orange 
                       & the month 
was violent, like an avalanche, 
while it could have been like a waterfall, 
steady. The journey became a mound 
& in its inertia:

in prison from sentences; at the same time 
I found a muzzle in the gazebo,

when a pigeon pressed into asphalt
                                     took off 
into asphodels.






Różewicz Akbar

beggars asking for alms 
test our humanity

by saying nothing, I proclaim my existential fall
the thought of modern man must break thru the roar of information

there’s something on the windowsill
that looks like mouse shit

there was no conversation that would lead somewhere
at the end of the boiled self

the age of the horse has run its course



translator’s note:

Robert “Ryba” Rybicki is a one-person cosmopolis and, over the past two decades, his status within his native Poland has grown to near-mythic proportions. A self-described “happener,” Rybicki creates poetic events as he works at the intersection of performance and disruption, theatricality and confrontation going back to figures such as Rolf Brinkmann, Tadeusz Kantor, and Stanisław (“Witkacy”) Witkiewicz.

His award-winning book The Squatters’ Gift is a poetic travelogue through numerous languages and locales, both real and imaginary. Like Miron Białoszewski, Paul Celan, and Tristan Tzara before him, Rybicki excavates syllable and song, mind and muck, to invent a transnational poetry that is pointedly unapologetic and utterly unique. Not unlike American poet Michael Palmer, contradictory impulses animate Rybicki’s poetics, as he continuously toggles between the epistemic and the somatic. As he writes in The SquattersGift, “Thought clamps the body / like a barrel rim.” These competing modes allow Rybicki at one moment to offer poems that are reminiscent of Czesław Miłosz while at another embodying the wide-reaching iconoclasm of Peter Handke’s “Offending the Audience on Purpose.” Antoni Zając observes that being uncompromisingly anti-dogmatic “is perhaps the essence of Robert Rybicki’s poetry.”

The Polish language has a much more acrobatic and elastic syntax than English, which is one of the challenges of translating Rybicki’s work. But perhaps more pressing is the fact that his poems so actively resist stasis and are buttressed by myriad neologisms and elisions, which make getting a stable feel for the writing all the more difficult. Polish poet and critic Adam Wiedemann suggests that it’s as if Rybicki begins each poem “at the zero point of poetry” and continues “without respecting sacred literary rules and especially ‘culture.’” The poems shift locations, languages and layouts at breakneck speed, or the speaker can slow down to marvel at polygons or puke. Buckminster Fuller once wrote, “We’re all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth,” to which Rybicki could retort “the heavens aren’t silent / if you have them in you.”

Mark Tardi’s books include The Circus of Trust (Dalkey Archive Press, 2017), Airport music (Burning Deck, 2013), and Euclid Shudders (Litmus, 2004). Prologue, an award-winning cinepoem collaboration with Polish multimedia artist Adam Mańkowski, has been screened at film festivals throughout Europe and the United States. He was a writer-in-residence at MASS MoCA in January 2020 and will be a research fellow at the Harry Ransom Center in 2021. A former Fulbright scholar, he is on faculty at the University of Łódź.

Robert ‘Ryba’ Rybicki was born in Rybnik in 1976. A poet, translator, squatter (at times) and self-described ‘happener,’ Rybicki is the author of nine books of poetry, including Epifanie i katatonie [Epiphanies & Catatonics], Masakra kalaczakra [Kalachakra massacre], and Podręcznik naukowy dla onironautów [A Scientific Handbook for Oneironauts]. He served as the former editor of the artistic magazine Plama in Rybnik as well as the Polish weekly Nowy Czas [New Time] in London. His collection Dar Meneli [The Squatters’ Gift] was the winner of the Juliusz Upper Silesian Literary Award in 2018. He currently lives in Kraków and organizes literary events there.