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People in Strokes and Words

portraits and poems

by Wis - Wieslaw Sadurski

People here introduce themselves in short poems, where I imitate your dreams, feelings, psychology's.
A bit of monkey business.
Faces done in a minimal number of strokes; drawing lines was quicker than perceiving them.
I concentrated solely on the vibes of my subject.
I hope you will find your own face here.

Everything seems to have its own story. One of my jobs was an atlas of man´s anatomy. Half a year of studies and drawings ended; having suddenly nothing to do, I enjoyed a new freedom and started to sketch faces.
Soon all the walls in my atelier were covered with faces and I heard them speaking. Started to write down poems, to go with the sketches and answer the question: "who are you?" That is how the book 'People in Strokes and Words' came into being.
Original Polish version contains 64 portraits.
44 poems appear here. English versions rendered by Heather in close collaboration with the author.

my internal fire
lead me brightly and boldly
through lands, people and the changes of fate

you that blow so freely through all I see
blow away from my life the remnants of the ideas for life,

blow in the infinite
and burn

there is a poem on a sheet of paper
beside it a knife on the table
down in the street yesterday a boy stabbed a man with a knife
great is the power of association

I can link one with the other
but see just one everywhere
being a particle of dust I boil water for tea
then glance at myself and
there in an uncreated brightness
the universe is laughing at me

no I don't go for a drink tonight
have a little pain in my throat
hope this is not tonsillitis

when I opened my eyes for the first time
in the amniotic waters of my mother
sailed the ship
above it floated a bird
so high that it must have been in a heaven

when I was born I forgot everything

only so many years later
when for the first time I opened my thighs
for a chance meeting by the way
I saw the bird was still circling

that's why I didn't agree to have an abortion
I will deliver despite everything

I like it when everything is in the right place:
bread on the table policeman on a corner
war in the middle east
pig in a butcher's bed

I know what I know
the sun is round
the earth is flat like a coin

everyone has great wings
and a small cage

full moon
wolf is howling
lonely wolf
running incessantly
along the iron fence

in the darkness of my soul
saving me from illusions
deceiving not
by committing suicide

once upon a time I was a boy playing ball games
now I know that man is a factory of shit

once I was on a galloping horse on a sunny morning
vaguely I remember that all this was different
but the cruel
wind blew
thirty forty years were whisked away
I work on a machine and produce shit
take part in elections and vote for this shit

I do not complain
my old age is safe
and I have everything for life that's needed so much

only that this kind of everything
is soft warm and stinking
in one word: shit!

I am in this great town

lots of lights colours rich decorations
but the meaning of the play is not known to me

millions of people live here
and I don't know even
if they play comedy or drama

I am stranger here
as everywhere else
as if I have no name
nationality or skin colour
I breathe with love
but do not play a part

before I leave my house I scrutinise everything carefully
to make sure the gas and lights are off
that there is no stub smouldering anywhere

I had an infectious disease in my childhood
stayed a long time in hospital
one night went over to the window
the whole horizon was glowing
the warsaw ghetto on fire

I kept on looking at it for many nights
and took it for a beautiful scene
but now that I know both beauty and ugliness
are human excuses
I even look in my waste bin
to check that there is no forgotten spark

I wouldn't like it to happen again

I decided there will be no more war

we shall only murder animals
poison nature and not each other

I mean that everyone
even a simple clerk like me
has a right to croak in peace

I will never forget how you crucified Jesus

through all your speeches prayers songs
I hear the coarse breathing
I see
the bleeding sweating
still trembling

it's not my affair to judge or forgive
because I do not believe in your good or evil

one thing i'll never forget
is that
I see
all around me
your immortal lying
undying falsity

no I can never forget
how you crucify Jesus

Portrait 54, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski

I am being born
in a place
where colours and forms
hands and tools
individual existence and the world
meet each other

simple as a breath
complicated as a breathing one
no more understandable
than a drawing on a cave wall

my only secret is the secret of being

my name is Painting

Portrait 09, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski
Portrait 10, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski

the sun is shining aimlessly
just as the wind blows

the earth spins free of care
days pass by

there is nothing to understand
all is to feel
and to love


I laugh!
what else can I do
when I look at you

your love is riding on a horse of gold
your rainbow is made of silk
just look at yourself when you're shutting the door
see those solid locks

possibly i've gone mad
but I prefer poverty
when one has nothing at all
one is closer to the truth
and the truth here is to be called pain
humiliation hunger despair

go on!
you'll see for yourself!

Portrait 11, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski

only half a century ago I was just incredibly young
unusually beautiful
never slept alone

today life is one long night
only death keeps on coming to my bed
tells me stories of the ones long forgotten
looks deep into my eyes
or checks
my pulse with his fiery finger
shaking his head letting me
breathe the whole night through
even possibly longer
then goes away
to visit my neighbour

many of us are living here in sheltered housing
no-one's talking to me except mister death

you are free

yes! free
and nameless!

don't weep or faint when they break you

you relive in my love
all that you were
all that you'll be

the sun is shining
you still have a few days
with me

I do not recognise my own face
nor know where I come from

I am from here:
the wind and eagle
call me brother

I went through time
saw from the other river bank:
people in their innermost cores
carry domesticated beasts
and forms
are not really what they seem to be

but everywhere
I can see you
and am warmed up by your light

how delicate
it shines through open jasmine petals
in the eyes of a woman when she's blooming with me

nascent vibration
flickering sparks
night coolness
unfettered walking
from nowhere to nowhere

almighty flame

on the other side of my face
all things are invisible

streets stones people
have no substance at all

they are there
'cause I am

and as me
in their inner truth
as me
of no aim

if I had money
i'd buy new york

but then
new day
brings old filth

don't know how to live
fear death

can only afford a ticket to cinema

night and day
moon and stars

what joins
with the other?
and you?
a single drop of dew
with the sun?

what is it

Portrait 20, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski

just yesterday I was sixteen

today it is snowing
and so windy

stars are invisible
can only weep

once I was lonely
my friend's name is knife

I even had a mother and father
but think
before you look me in the eyes

blood is logical
my friend
might think that you want something from him

we were children of concrete
gathering together at the carpet beater
to throw stones against a wall
or at each other

my mother
meeting me sometimes
says that I got hit on the nose

blood was flowing
when we were children

but if my daughter were a boy
I would never buy him a pistol
or gun

it might be as though I
were killing him

I know as much and as little
as nothing:

with unending
slow changing
a world looks at itself
through my very eyes

Portrait 24, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski

am the longing

falling on sea

the unknown only
truly important

and there was a bunker on this curve
under a broken wall was a tunnel
that could lead to
somewhere else

but there were only old
stinking with piss

there is only so much to be said
on the theme of soul searching

I'm simply not connected
to the law of common gravity
and they say I am crazy

maybe it's right to say so!

I've never killed anybody
never believed anybody
never lied to anybody

I let the bees pollinate me
I change autumn forests into violins
that which is above me is in me -

the sun! ladies and gentlemen!

can't laugh
can't weep
the sky was torn into pieces
I went sightseeing
to a concentration camp
there was one barrack
filled with children's' shoes
I was weeping there

don't know how to tell you
I understood my tears were blasphemous
that I was murdered as well
as a boy

don't laugh
don't weep
wherever I tread
I walk in the footsteps of those children
the sky is scarred
how long one can live on?

Portrait 28, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski

at last
I have achieved something worthwhile
a sunflower grows out my ear

from now on
it will turn my head to follow the sun

and I can finally

lime trees
shimmer in a july wind

here I loved
and was loved

my map is not charted
I am the way

this I is an unknown
it's here
in this wind

don't know where I began
nor where I go

full moon

it's almost unbelievable but when the years pass by
I remember more and more

it seems like yesterday
when moments from the past were coming back to me
and I was without name

there colours were signs of the invisible
and sounds
emanated with the mute

I feel I am returning to the source
when I think over what is no more
and I tell you my young friend
weird is my certainty
of going into death without closing my eyes

I died in childhood
and then
one gave me the life of the living dead
which means
I was like others are

only that a tragic accident
took my legs and hands
to let me see the wind

I was born beside a great river

I see people flowing like water
sometimes clear
sometimes dirty

and wonder if that means something more
or, simply, that's the way it is

sometimes I believe the last judgement
has already been passed
the division between the damned and those condemning
and all were sent down to the earth
for life eternal
until awakening

I've no more power to go on
but I can't die! I
am not born yet!
my aura is made of rust flakes
but I can't get lost! I have not been found yet!

no face seems to suit my face
and I doubt
the legal position of the sentence

is ending

thought i'd been singing
but it was only inner bleeding

I need change
for a beer and for the next one

maybe you can buy a round
or tell me how to live

oh, night
give me confidence
and with darkness

enlighten me
oh, morning
wherever I go

Portrait 42, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski

do you want to know something?

ask the wind
in a field

I don't need to talk
it's enough to be

Portrait 47, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski
Bella, drawing Wieslaw Sadurski

enlightened by lightning
in fire
united with heaven and earth

free from
free for

of no name
no memory
melted into light

I have not awakened yet

I let dreams lead me
wherever they fly

and I long

oh! I am longing so dearly and not knowing what for
but it must be for something delicate
like spring twigs in a glass
something as simple
as life
that I dream of

in precognition
that an awakening awaits me

Portrait 49, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski

my dog was called rex which means king

I was five years old
when I had my last dog
a black hole sucked him in
he was bound with an iron chain to the tree
and shot

one has explained it all to me

I saw it then and now
when I look back
and see something strange there
it was my lack of emotion

I was five
and already had a full understanding

nothing has changed to this very day

do I have enough time to tell you?

I can soon disappear so
want to be comprehensible

borders classes poverty richness
are all illusions

do I not care about the future of the world?
nuclear rockets? eternal peace?

I tell you honestly - I sustain in being
no single policeman nor soldier
and not a single paragraph of any of your laws
affects me
and all your discussions cares fights ideas
- no more than nothing

I don't criticise you
I almost envy you
you've so much time
for all and everything
and I am sentenced to death
live with the feeling
that this is my last word last second
nothing strange I seem to be funny

if it were my last hour!
I would have still time
enough for my mother and father memories an ocean
but this is literally the last breath
infinity is wholly unknown
there are no more excuses!

I am no more human
having more in common
with life itself

it doesn't matter
in which direction
we dream

what have I done today
that has made me so happy?

went down the street
wind blew
a child laughed at me

when I sat down on a garden bench
a dog ran up to me to lick my hand

I have done nothing
really nothing
for the first time in my life

facing you I am alone
as when I face the world

autumn sky is perfectly clear

I won't be beneath it

Portrait 52, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski
Portrait 59, Drawing by Wieslaw Sadurski

in a space filled with spring smells
crows caw
flying over the house
since immemorial dawns

at the window there is
my - not my -

below me
my - not my -

in this space
that is me

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