Blesok no. 66, May-June, 2009
Translated by Damir Šodan
Ivan the factory
for Blanka and Petar
Thousands upon thousands of dead
must talk and talk
so that somewhere in the forest
a single mushroom can sprout
at a spot entirely out of their reach.
That's what I would like you to remember me by
if you can remember what's been said
I was told in a dream by a certain someone
whose name I do not dare to speak out.
With eyes lowered to the dust
on a multi-track railway
the trains zoom by each other
through the cathedral
chiming inside the membrane of an eye
started us from our sleep.
You know that
24 times in a single second
death stops by the roadside water-pump
in a puddle
in a mirror evaporating
into an ancient and icy mirage
its bluish face of a girl
collecting sticks in a school-yard.
We rode our bicycles that day
and stopped by a factory
with chimneys spouting
These people really have a gift for oracles
you said with lips somewhat strangely slanted.
Your son slept in the next room.
The cleaning lady on the fourth floor
just at the level of our eyes
scattered raspberry seeds
all across the floor and all over shelves
and in mid-summer
sprinkled artificial snow
upon her sweating face.
She might have been around fifty
and kept laughing long after
in the departing tram.
Working in language
is the same
in a field
a storm comes
frost and hail come too
and all that's left
and in the field
of wild cherry
all around textbooks
for guards and gravediggers
for Darko Jerković & Juraj Šiftar
He was already the dust that you are
right there on every star
from where the galloping frenzied cavalry
shall lay down their sabres
citterns and sceptres
into the ashes of the millions of dead
whose expired eyesight
is forever inscribed in the river silt
and your blood:
audible like that divine wind
blowing at times through your voice
when a turbid river runs through that gash on your hand
wherein all those glorious
tried to deposit their marshal spawn
Ö is the code of all true veterans
of this ancient war
making an angel or two in the heavens
carry their barbaric arms even today
Only one dead starfish and one fallen
know that what their eyes once saw
those straw dogs barking
in the placenta of your birth
My whole world
has been displaced into a million blind alleys
since I began disliking night
and everything became so predictable
and alien to the point of becoming utterly repulsive
but I swear to you
that a blind man told me in a dream
that sometimes he can quite clearly see
falling in burning pieces from the red-hot sky
right there before his feet
blinding him over and over again
with that flash
just as you and I are somewhat touched
at the close of a day or towards the end of a summer
by that same wasteland
that same no place
between a knife and a mourning dove
for Bruno Shultz
Never has God attached Past to Present
with such a powerful glue
like the one that I inhaled everywhere
in the air there by the WisBa
o you, yingele
looking for those cinnamon brown shops
where your ancestors long ago
whispering in anguish
cursed all of the morning stars
that remained forever sewn
onto their sleeves
and onto your snowy eyes
now kiss that sepia
spilling sweet blackness of death
so that your dream
may not find the path to the open sea again.
Pray for those phantoms
drawn by polar light across the sky
for somebody else's sake
and never tell anybody
what you saw there in the white
o you, yingele.
Whoever has but once followed
anybody's footsteps in the snow
knows that no one returns the same path
by which he once tried
to trick time
for God sees us even more clearly in the snow
allowing it to fall only during his blackouts
medicating some incurable fear with it.
The fogs from the northern seas
travelled many a long and distant mile
entering as deep as possible into the southern plains
so that the firstborn could hide
his tired army in them
I always thought
Poland came into being
and whenever the late autumn fog descends
I see myriads of those phantoms again
trying to burn
their own shadows
like dirty rags
spelling out the names
o you, yingele
of all my known
and your unknown
Whoever has but once
followed anybody's footsteps in the snow
shall finally at the end of his journey
if only in a dream
and there he shall say
why did you abandon me, home sweet home
o you, yingele.
Once again I would like to raise a tent
close to your heart.
A farmer in the field
casts young seeds of wheat
into the fresh-ploughed furrow.
Each grain before it even touches the ground
turns into a moth
that is then left alone
at the mercy of daylight.
I saw that marvel
once in your eyes on the cover of a book
I received as a gift.
A dog marks the contours of his world
with his own piss.
Pythagoras did the same with ashes.
I have washed all my hooks
in sacred water.
Before I went down to the boat
I dug that long hidden oar
with my own hands
out of the river mud.
At the entrance to the temple
an invisible menorah was burning
under the August light.
The faraway stars
died out one by one.
The ancient tribes
saw them first
as they were being born in the sky
out of a milky mist.
Never to raise their heads again.
All those who graduated
on your verse
can now peacefully enter paradise.
Fearlessly carve their names
in a young birch's bark.
And throw a handful of dust
high into the air and wait
for their minds to catch up
with their open eyes.
Why do people who are truly free
Below the tree
where Branko Miljkovi} hung himself
the mandrake never sprung a flower.
The scarab from your eyelashes
flew away to Pomerania long ago.
The corpse of Nico
decomposed in the summer air
since nobody wanted to claim the coffin
that cruised ghostlike around Europe for days on end
like ambrosial pollen on an angel's wing.
While she sang
some of that Berlin dust
was still settling after the storm
in her eyes.
We've never become like her
homeless middle-aged junkies
since that required a little bit more time
than the one that we had been
presented by poetry.
Never talk to strangers
and for heaven's sake don't open your mouth
under the poisonous August light.
you had one able eye
but still you weren't the king amongst the blind.
You had one good ear
while a bat hid in the other one
from people and cold
nestling itself into warm silence, rotten leaves and musty smell.
You had one arm
the other stayed forever tearing umbilical cord
at the bottom of dry ink in the scriptorium
below the strangers' feet.
So what are you going to tell him
when he asks you if you know
of any shorter path?
Should you tell him to roll the dice
from which time has wiped off the white dots
for one, two, three,
four, five and six?
And that both the judges and the loafers
couldn't care less if you pronounce
your name a little bit differently
Or that you once had a heart
unable to rot
like a mushroom upon hearing
that they had let pigs and dogs out
to smell the fields I wanted to show you
when they asked me why
I told you so many lies?
Hundreds of times
I have passed through Dobova.
That first place that you see
when you're crossing the Croatian-Slovenian border by train.
That first sign that you are indeed
leaving somewhere, that first milestone
that will also on the way back
inform you that you have in fact arrived someplace.
Purgatory, if it really exists
probably looks like Dobova.
A little girl with a bucket full of milk.
Haystacks scattered across neatly trimmed pastures
calmly waiting for dusk.
At times something surreal
appears outside of your compartment
sticky with nicotine filled smoke.
A customs officer spreads himself
across the passenger seats
ready for a little nap en route to Zagreb.
The street where the first ever
porn cinema opened in Ljubljana in the ex-State
where having spent six months clad in the olive-green
uniform of the former federal army
I took two fellows from Gorski Kotar
to see American 80s porno diva
doing double penetration in “Room-mates”.
The village graveyards on timid hillsides
coated in winter evening mist.
One day I am going to get off that train
and fall asleep on a bench
of that little train stop of Dobova.
And if I ever wake up again maybe you'll see me
waving at you from a platform
with both hands.
for Marija Čudina
not enough snow had fallen
Lacan never got to find his way
into the Castle.
There are only two who
at perfectly divided intervals donate life
no question asked:
God and oblivion.
That's how it was written on the blackboard.
A castle can trick a sleeper for a second.
he being the first to wake up
dreamily observes the endless white fields.
Trees in a grove
cracking loudly from winter
like dead bones
in nylon sacks.
It's not yet time to get up
though the scene with the Castle
shall not return with the next sleep.
The shallow tracks in the snow, the invisible
little wounds on the tongue. Silence.
In the restaurant
chairs turned upside-down sleep on the tables
on blue chequered tablecloths.
The portrait of a man with a bowed head.
It's warm in the stables.
The frozen little branches
in a migratory bird's half-ravaged nest
are the heart of a lonesome gnosis.
Angel of death
– so the legend I invented just for you says –
has a voice resembling the jingle-bells
of a lonely sleigh in the night
when the draw-bridge at the entrance to the Castle
You haven't asked who I am for quite a while now.
The bats hidden in a decrepit belfry
sleep their winter sleep
hanging from the sky like holy letters
tno one knows how to read.
When they rise again
you won't even know that there it was written
if there was a path to the Castle
The one who was ready
to lead me home is now stuck
somewhere half-way along the way.
By night she travels
the lonesome roads
by day she rests
covering her eyes with her palms.
In the dark pine tree forest
she's eating pinecones and drinking snow
from my notebooks.
Still not knowing my name.
She will find it out
the day before
she finds me
Then she will point her finger at me
for the Angel of Death
whose application to serve his time
somewhere away from Kras
among many other
poems about youth.