after Edward Hirsch
This is a song to be sung by
a soloist wearing a paper crown, for
the speechless, the missing, the kidnapped
at dawn, the ones pole-vaulting the border
but never hitting the ground. This song
is but a memory, a certificate
of authenticity forged to fill the frame
of mind, of frayed maps we follow
in search of sunlight to wishbone
this town. It has been written down
and copied for the pinkies and for
the big toes among us, the winged-pigs
that roam the laminated floors
of dreams, every New York City,
Kraków or Rome, every pawnshop owner
smudged with the fog of self-doubt.
Believe me, this song is for the girl
whose playground is dotted by craters
in bloom, and every man who carries
his shade in a shopping bag,
like a proof of purchase,
in case he chooses to exchange himself.
(Can you hear the desert wind
beating with its white-hot elbow
on the river which we cup and drink?)
Listen, this song has no name,
no price on its head. Make it your pet.
Longer than a deck of cards laid out
before your eyes and the runaway train
packed with laughing gas—sing it
for those who long for the chorus,
the easy way out, those who forget that
the air suffocates when applause is born.
Piotr Florczyk is a poet, essayist, and translator of Polish poetry. His most recent books are East & West, a volume of poems from Lost Horse Press, and two volumes of translations published by Tavern Books, My People & Other Poems by Wojciech Bonowicz, and Building the Barricade by Anna Świrszczyńska, which was longlisted for the 2017 PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation. Florczyk, a doctoral fellow at USC, lives in Mar Vista with his wife and daughter. For more info, please visit: www.piotrflorczyk.com
“Song” was originally published in the In Posse Review.