Issue 11, December 2013
{ Three pieces from Contraband of Hoopoe }
by Ewa Chrusciel

The first time we went to Bulgaria with our parents it was 1978. There was no toilet paper in Polish shops. What is humanity without a decent roll of toilet paper? Every time I saw the toilet paper, I would roll it secretly. I wanted to bring some luxury home. In western countries there was paper, but no truth to write on it. We knew the truth, but had no paper to write it on. No paper to wipe off the system. We carried it like a turf on our asses. What is the culture that cannot regenerate itself by healthy digestion? This is where we beheld the system. Not enough toilet paper to conceal our attitude. There is no good literature without good toilet paper.

    
    
Litany of Confiscation 
Animal Head of unknown origin – protect us
Beanie Babies – feed us
Belts – defend us
Birds nest – root us 
Bird corpse – spare us
Bongs – stone us
Butterflies of Prohibition – flutter grace on us
Candy Made from Animals – sweeten smuggled beasts in us
Cashier Checks – bring us prosperity
Chestnuts – crisp us
Chicken Feet – don't leap before you hatch
Chicken miscellaneous – sustain us
Cock fertility tablets – sex us up
Cow urine – cure us 
Cuban Cigars – envelop us in invisibility
Deer antlers – protect us
Deer blood – heal us
Deer penis – cure our uncertainties
Deer tongue – stick out at our enemies
Eggshells – let us walk carefully
Ginkgo Nuts – whisper of Permian Oceans 
Khat – hypnotize us
Kinder Surprise – snuggle us 
Leaves – rustle in us 
Lighter – blind the officers of prohibition
Mombins –entertain us 
Mooncakes – taste us
Nesting dolls – coil us
Nuts – lose your marbles for us
Oca – do whatever you want for us
Onions – cry officers' eyes out 
Palm Fruit – sing of our victory
Pickled Mango – laugh at us
Pigeon Tablets – unpack cooing for us
Seeds – germinate us
Snails – coil us
Whole Duck – quack us
Thirteen bottles overproof rum – giggle in us
Tree Bark – layer us
    

Smuggling has to do with metonymies. Metonymies assure us we have nutshells. Metonymies assure us we have eggshells. The fragment, the part of a greater whole which resides in the spiritual realm. Metonymies are centrifugal. They dwell in particulars, peripheries. They have something to do with myopic perception. Metonymies are easier to smuggle. Smugglers do not like throwing away the cheese wrappers and glass jars from their country, as they stand for something bigger. Smugglers yearn for the absent whole. Smuggling is both the attachment and the red herring. It is a condensation of departure. It supplies associations. Just like metonymy, it has to do with compression. It bodies forth lack. It speaks of insufficiency. It is the desire to restore subject to its predicate. It is a deferral of leaving. It is a relationship of ship to sail. We can take in the sail. Nobody wants to go with empty hands. Smuggling shortens the distance between.

Ewa Chrusciel writes in both Polish and English. She has two books in Polish. Her first book in English, Strata, won the 2009 international book contest and was published with Emergency Press in 2011. Her second book in English Contraband of Hoopoe is forthcoming with Omnidawn Press in 2014. Her third book Dybbuk of Angelus was a finalist with River Run Press. Her poems were featured in Jubilat, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Lana Turner, Spoon River Review, Aufgabe among others. She translated Jack London, Joseph Conrad, and I.B. Singer into Polish and Jorie Graham, Lyn Hejinian and Cole Swensen into English.