Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016

A protester holds up a sign, "NO WOMAN NO KRAJ" in a pro-choice protest.

You Shouldn’t Have Pissed Us Off: A Lesson in Polish Obscenity

in Europe by

Now, better than ever, we understand the thick,
necessary art of cursing in Polish: kurwa
and its ten thousand variants, each a needle stuck
at a new angle. A fragile body can only take
so much insertion before it begins to bruise.
And, well, you made it about bodies.

So, look, do kurwy nędzy! It’s bodies, bodies,
bodies, clogging roundabouts, lining up across
tram tracks, swelling in the streets to bisect
the status quo. Going in and putting weight
on the rot, so it’s impossible to dismiss.
Bodies taking up space in the naves, bodies
encircling pillars, bodies sitting cross-legged
on the steps leading up to the pulpits.

The admonitions of Our Fathers gurgle like
the final gówniany swill down the drain.
Poland exercises its right to swear its oaths
loudly and out in the open, in writing on the walls
of the city, in symbols, on posters, in online
storms and real storms, lightning passing
from each of us to the next.

Understand that we will decide what to do
with our electrical impulses. That if we tell you
wypierdalaj, that is our choice and you,
kneading your brow in session or puffing wetly
at the pundits on nationalized television, you
are just as permeable as any skin-thing,
and you should probably listen.


Adriana Rewald is a writer, teacher, and translator who was born in Detroit and raised in Warsaw, Poland. Her poetry has appeared in Artemis, Toho, and on She has lived and worked in Virginia, South Korea, Serbia, and is currently based in China.

Photo by Luca Aliano.


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