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translations of work by
 Attila József (1905-1937)
done with my father,
Gabor J. Kalman

Two Bitter Songs


—Hup, hup! Like a joke
slipped in the skirts of peasant girls
you recede beneath the sky, Attila,
the nearly flat-footed punk,
and as your patched butt
adorned with the order of the golden fleece
fades, they stare wide-mouthed: a goat, a bear,
and virgins! old ladies! sunflowers!


It's useless, I didn't eat yesterday either,
the devil eat instead,
pigs feet, countries, the future.
And he filled up his belly—

instead of the moons, the suns,
it's my own wild turds that shine,
the seals on my pigsty death!
They're frolicking and making music . . .

© 2009, Ron A. Kalman
This poem first appeared in Exquisite Corpse.