words have been used up
chewed up like gum
by lovely young mouths
have been turned into white
balloons bubbles

diminished by politicians
they’re used for whitening
and for the rinsing out
of mouths

in my childhood
words could be
applied to a wound
could be given
to the one you loved

wrapped in newspaper
they still contaminate still reek
they still hurt

hidden in heads
hidden in hearts
hidden under the gowns
of young women
hidden in holy books
they burst out
they kill

(translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston)