Blesok no. 75, November-December, 2010

The passage towards you

Ivan Herceg

Like Snow

At night I can’t sleep
so I listen to rare ghosts
driving time through Zagreb.
Sometimes they hit the brakes
as if they’ve lost the road,
down my spine, down the clouds,
down the snow.

And my friends have told me ‘good night’,
yet I still can’t sleep.
I imagine us at a wedding
at some restaurant on a river
down which at every time of the year
pure snow flows which no one sees.

I wished for a wedding gown
and you promised me invisibility.
There was no one to stand up to you,
no one was there not to see me,
only I and you, you without me, I without you,
like every abandoned snow.

At home, says my mother,
it snows too and no one sees it
and my parents are worried.
The sky came down almost to the ground,
people shrunk to the size of a fingernail,
and these here, and those there,
near and far.

At night I can’t sleep
so I listen to rare ghosts
listening to snow, like snow.


They say that the Miljacka river does exist,
but I can only sense it in the distance.
You, on the other hand, flowing
through the night so swiftly, are real.
Your hair is black, your scarf invisible,
your hand firmly held by someone.
You're giving me that long piercing look
knowing there's so much that needs to be remembered.

In this city we are equally distant
from each other; halfway between Persia and Europe;
equally distant from all living and all dead.

I wish I could gently put out cigarettes on your arms.
I wish you would act the part of Satan for me
on the stage of some abandoned cultural centre.
Thus we would get rid of one life line,
one destiny, one string of love…
so that only those lines on my palms would remain.

How many cemeteries are there in Sarajevo?
How many in the entire world?
Does anyone ask himself.

Nobody asks that. Everybody steals the truth.
So, I'm begging you, miraždžika,
to please cut off my hands
with that last atom of strength.

A Canvas

You pretend that you know that one is
the biggest and the loneliest number
and every time you say: “You are one of…”
and I stop you with one
finger on the lips.

I pretend that I know that “Magnolia”
always plays in one invisible theatre
and that our readiness for madness,
because of the pressure in the sun’s assembly,
nervousness in small fingers of our hands,
those unneeded, mine and yours,
is greater than cut out tongues of lovers
on the smudged canvas of illusion
whose ends God and the devil pull.

We pretend that we know what life is.
If we touch it, it can be
a curtain, a wall, a tombstone.
When we only watch it,
then it’s a human face, skin,
bloody and perishable.
When we get tired of it, we bite each
other’s fingers off and play shadows.

We pretend that we know what the canvas is.

We pretend that it is one,
we pretend that we are one.

- translated by Tomislav Kuzmanović

About impossible faces

Every day I want to meet you again,
talk about the universe and all those odd distances,
about every possible and impossible sky,
every possible and impossible love.

I know, you’ll say I’m playing God, that I’m provoking,
that life is not time and the world is not this,
that the rain can’t change the sea and the land,
but it can melt the cross and the face.

Every day I want to forget you again,
not to speak about how I got lost, how you don’t see me,
about selfishness and my other dimensions,
all possible drops and impossible faces.


Birds fly around your legs and you count them
for eternity, but I can't figure out if you are above
or below, if you're calling me or not, or if you're just
seducing me with that barbed wire bra.
Positively, with nothing sacred in the vicinity
your walk is perfect because it's void of course.

My new eyesight is the balls of riddles.
Therein swarm decrepit days,
black dogs, candelabras and psalms.
While I am repeating incessantly:
”My other name is Limbo,
my other name is Limbo…”

Words and poems fly around your head.
I read them in a monotonous voice.
With eyes blindfolded by barbed wire:
”Violet is the devil's colour.
God is all honey and lead
and I am your mad namesake.
You remain my vulnerable jazz.
On the other side of the storm.”

The passage towards you

”I will learn to live, we will live together”,
we kept repeating inside each for himself.
We knew that was the case although we did not look at each other.
Then, as if upon an order, we entered the sea
up to our shoulders and began kissing it
all around ourselves, around the world.

I journeyed slowly towards you
watching you as a beautiful timid village woman
in a dress made by Lyon tailors, like the queen of India,
as I listened to cruel Jeanne d'Arc and the cool Sai Baba
speaking out of you.

You approached me slowly, eying me
as a quiet filigree maker of planets and suns,
surrounded with maps, rectangles and distance,
accepting me as someone who might have been
Galileo Galilei or Hieronymus Bosch.

I will learn to die, we will die together.
As if upon an order we shall enter the sea.
Inside we shall reel and drown and pray
and dream under the water, listening to each other,
keeping silent for each other, hating each other
because of that depth that will disfigure us.

The scar

How many scars you have, I can't even begin to imagine.
Again they told you your father is dead.
Is that a good or a bad news?

Not so long ago, from the “caesarean” cut
on your hand, a freak king was born
mourning your loneliness at night when he festers
like a rotten watermelon forgotten on the table,
like an abandoned PHD thesis
on languages that betray you
the more that you study and master them,
about the everyday life that offers little and false.

”Good guys and ideals have been buried”, you say.
”I am terribly uneven”.

There's lime in your every word,
a deadly cream you're offering to me and the world,
the solidarity with evil that keeps you alive
incessantly returning you to the beginning,
to a new birth out of the scar.

Translated by Damir Šodan

created by