Blesok no. 66, May-June, 2009

Karma repair procedure

Damir Šodan


Always these stones. Stones flying.
I don’t even bother watching out for them
any more. I eat and work with battered
head amid the gurgling of a dry fury.
Siege stones, poets’ stones, biblical stones,
island stones (stones of all kinds)
flow in streams down the stairways,
through the parks, down posterity’s cheeks.
And though there’s nothing in them,
nothing of gypsum, minerals or the will
(nothing of stone itself), the avalanche
never stops. They keep pelting me:
hard low-grade blades
that make even angels flinch.

Translated by Stephen M. Dickey


A woman is holding
a live chicken in her lap.
She’s fanning it with a piece of yellowish newspaper.
Down below Vrulja is seething with greasy spots.
The Imotski postal service bus
a slippery mogul, an octopus caught up in the noon’s net
coughs up digested smoke.
At the invisible place
on the back side of the rear-view mirror
the swollen river rising up, torches
approaching corpses, some other
long forgotten body
dissipates in the warm
ashes of Benares.

The cane

I wonder whether I’ll ever have a cane
the kind blind men, old men, gentlemen use
a cane I can test the ice with like Yeats
or tap on the sidewalk, scare bugs
and pigeons with, when disquieted times
come, those gaunt, old downhill years
I’ll need that cane
or some cane made of rosewood
or some other wood, a cane of pastimes
and even an exclamation cane,
which is indeed a clothespin of a cane
joining the earth to a hand,
their interlocking pair of pliers
where you loved me once.

Translated by Stephen M. Dickey


An unused image is the hardest one to let go of.
There’s a wasp at the fish market beating against a wall,
the wasp I cannot place, so I tell her:
you disturbed one, be my exceptional wasp.
We’ll compose panegyrics out of those beatings,
the wall will mark the boundary to the phenomenal world
facing the vast used up past
while he himself remains the constancy
as bland as the wound we read about
on somebody else’s stung skin
at a lonely place where we abandoned them.
So, don’t leave me now, for it is only together
that we can have this
non-contagious disease forgiven.

The distance

As I’m running alongside the North Sea
miles away my father stops working
and leans against the handle of his hoe.
There we are – he says – after all
we’ve done for him our gentleman
is running while here
madness is just about to begin.
I increase the tempo
with wind in my back
fleeing from such thoughts.
A little further ahead (always ahead!)
a seagull has plucked a bunch
of shimmering stones out of the sand.
And now he’s hopping around them.

The Gates of Otranto

every time I think of the Gates of Otranto
I almost instinctively have my trousers rolled.
I’m scared by such an enormous amount of water
that can at any moment find its way
into our beds and rooms
making every order of things
superfluous, odd or obsolete.
monsieur fat cook sighing for days on end
at the stern of the sailboat
tossing garbage onto the white crests
has struck a deal with the sharks.
he guards the ashes of our story in his pockets
– all those cigarette butts exchanged with care and kisses –
smiling constantly as if he’d been conspiring
with underwater mines.


you’re are looking at his back
as they disappear into the vineyard.
he’s about to get on the job, a damn real one.
there’s blue vitriol in metal buckets
(or something equally useful and poisonous).
he’s surrounded by hills, humus, stones
and everything else that makes
for a peaceful and palpable landscape.
whereas you – all those miles you covered
you covered them just to compose yourself.
and now you bow to every grape
as if it’d been some pagan deity
that someone had long ago
planted right there.
a little bit lower, at the picture’s corner
he rises all of a sudden
spreading a big coarse canvass.
the sky above him strikes
its worldly moustaches.
and it’s only then that he says:
– it’s going to rain.

Karma repair procedure

    for R. Brautigan

applied aftershave lotion
you take a deep breath.
filling up
the dark blue pulmonic sacks
with as many shiny bubbles as possible
(that’s how you expel the vocative case
out of your ear cavities
as well as the ghost of lonesomeness
out of the steamed-up curtain
in the self-service restaurant.)
then you get out into the street
and wait for the highly trained mystery
to finally spring up.
like a snake-catcher’s bag
from the rocky ground around Imotski.
Gombrowicz hated poets with a reason.
and we know why.

Keats’ nightingale

come morning I stroke the nightingale.
confined in a paper clock.
or to be more precise: in a cage covered with a rag.

he is mine and I am his
winding device.
there is solidarity bulging between us
like between children
who’ve been burned by jellyfish
at a seaside summer camp.

at noon we fly towards the cleavage of day
towards the wings of a melted sun.
while down below earthlings
creep, scuttle and skulk

planting cabbage or some other vegetable
and inserting roughly cut stakes
deep into the ground.

here every poem is an ode to the Almighty?

Translated by the author

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