Blesok no. 77-79, March-August, 2011

An Unwritten Poem
From "Ненапишана песна / Nenapisana pjesma / An Unwritten Poem", Blesok, 2011.

Josip Osti

Some Poets Write As They Live

Some poets write as they live, whereas others
live as they write. I live as I write and write as I live.
Every one of my poems is a safeguard.
With them I ward off the evil spirits around me
and exorcise my own demons.

Translated by Mia Dintinjana

There Are Some Ordinary Lives, but All Loves Are Extraordinary

love is
you said
willing to sew on even a buton

between our meetings
you listen to Tchaikovsky
in vain stab invisible thread through
a more invisible needle

a full moon has fallen
off the blue shirt of the morning
and rolled somewhere under the bed

Translated by Ruzha Cleaveland  and Boris A. Novak

Tonight, My Love, Fire Walks Through the City

Tonight, my love, fire walks through the city.
It walks the way I used to walk around.
It peeks, inquisitively, into the darkest nooks.
Lights up the dear, bewildered faces that have long gazed
at each other in the course of days turned into night
in the dense darkness of a basement without being seen,
but were merely touched, fearfully and gently carressed
with cold hands. Remembered by soft, frost-bitten fingertips.
The flame walks like a conqueror and a liberator.
Its triumphal stare sends icy shivers through the heart.
Before it, twilight thickens.
The twilight in which my mother, now for a long time
skin and bones, has not dared to look into a mirror.
Into a fragment of the mirror which multiplies
the grim nightfall within and around her,
embracing her wildly, protectively, like a dead lover.

Translated by Mia Dintinjana

An Unwritten Poem

I dreamt a poem: beautiful and whole.
A finely polished crystal ball. An open
cage filled with the golden autumnal Karst
light. Empty inside, with a music box
at the heart. The rustle of a dead bird's wing,
and the subterranean river whose path
is revealed by a strand of fog winding
among the vineyards and solitary pines…
I took a pencil that I always keep
at my bedside and gripped it,
like a man drowning
I reached out for a slim, nonexistent straw.
In the morning I awoke, pencil in hand.
With a tiny beam of sunlight shed
on the lines of living and dying
that cross each other in my palm. With the canopy
of a giant walnut tree washed clean by the night rain
in my sight. With the cooing of doves in my ear…
The dream I could not remember.
It was but another of my unwritten
poems. A poem which has been, like many
people in the city where I was born,
swallowed by night.

Translated by Mia Dintinjana

Question Mark

There are nights when I am alone. When the sky
is pitch black. No moonlight
or stars. When everything, myself included,
is engulfed by dense darkness.
When you can't see an inch. The path between
the vineyards that leads to the village
cemetery. A red rose climbing a wall.
A black grape on the vine
in front of the house… When windows
become blind. When the soul wanders
without touch. And when, out of nowhere,
only a bolt of lightening rips open the darkness
for a moment, like a sharp-edged sword,
and a large golden question mark dangles over my head.

Translated by Mia Dintinjana

The Invisible, My Love, Overflows with Meaning

The invisible, my love, overflows with meaning.
Overflows with the fragrance of meadow flowers
whose silent death renews our souls,
weary as our bodies on this hot
August afternoon, as we, drenched in sweat
and out of breath, motionless, lie on a bed
cradled only a short while ago by high waves.
Blinded by love we have, my love, foreseen
many things. Overlooked many more. Rains
replacing sun-filled days. The quiet of dusk.
The autumn of youth's intemperance.
The melancholy mood of satires…
My hot breath keeps your neck warm,
as in long, cold winter nights. In double
solitude even my unspoken word opens
the silver locket hanging from a fine chain
between your bare breasts,
holding your little secret. A rainbow above the city
hidden by dark clouds of smoke.
Where nights are white from burning fires
and where days are black from dying.

Translated by Mia Dintinjana

We Have Nothing Left, My Love, Except Love

We have nothing left, my love,
except love. Nothing, in our old age,
but to lick each other's unhealed wounds.
Protect one another from the cold
with the warmth of our bodies
and the alternation of hot breaths on each other's neck.
By laying hands on all, even the shameful places.
Shamelessly measuring our courage and freedom.
Seeing in our once beautiful bodies, now disfigured,
the balance of experience and ripening.
Adding our own trembling script to the palimpsest
of skin tanned by so many caresses. We are becoming all
of this, as much as we are different from who we were,
clay that wants kneading to be shaped into a new pitcher.
One that will be, when we have drunk all of its wine,
filled to the brim by death.

Translated by Mia Dintinjana

When You Are Not With Me in Tomai

When you are not with me in Tomai I chisel you day and night
in the middle of the garden out of the crystal clear
air of Karst … From the memory of the eyes which have
looked at you, and of the hands which have caressed you
for a long time. From the memory of my heart which has heard
the beating of yours, beating with it in harmony.
From the memory of the soul, which has kept the indelible
traces of our laughter and weeping, sadness and joy … When
you are not with me in Tomai I chisel you day and night
in the middle of the garden out of the crystal clear
air of Karst … In natural size and invisible
to all but me.

Translated by Evald Flisar

The Window Was Blind

The window was blind. Beautiful from
the outside of our old home. With a stone
frame and a jutting roof of rock. Filled in
long ago from inside. A trace of its interior
eyelid was hidden behind the old wardrobe
with the clothes and shoes of those long dead.
The window was blind … until not long ago.
As I opened it once more, its wonderful arch
opened itself to an even more beautiful view.
As if someone long blind recovering his sight
saw what he had long forgotten. Blossoming
pear tree. A vineyard. Young vines which are
like soldiers in green uniforms made to stand
in line before a first victory or a final defeat.
Above them the red roof and chimney out of
which mysterious fire-letters rise to the skies.
Signs of life mixing with the secret signs of
clouds which constantly change their shapes.
There children recognize sheep, and old men
wolves … The window was blind … Until not
long ago. Into the room again comes the soft
light of the sun. Turning everything golden.
Our bed and the books on the shelf by its side.
The iron window-crosses too. Our life become
bearable, a pleasurable prison. Yes. Beautiful,
… your golden face still shines. With the light
of unsuspected memory it drives dusk away,
snowing on the pages of my unwrittwn book.

Translated by Ana Jelnikar and Stephen Watts

It Happened In Broad Daylight

It happened in broad daylight. We were sat
on the bench under a flowering apple tree, looking
out across the kaleidoscope of the garden in Tomaj.
Its shape shifted everytime we blinked
and a new blossom would open.
White, yellow, violet, blue, red …
Suddenly it creaked, or it whinnied quietly
in the language of trees, and the ancient fig tree
with its huge crown, whose wide leaves
for years and years had hid the shame
of the overgrown corner behind it, began bending
towards the floor in front of our eyes. Slowly it
was falling. Its leaves rustled more and more
loudly. Or maybe, it was calling for help,
for it seemed an invisible hand of the wind
was pushing it into a deep abyss, though
there was no wind this summer afternoon
and everything around, as in a colour print,
was quiet and still. … It happened in
broad daylight. A large old fig-tree in the garden
fell over and remained lying in the grass,
as though sleeping, dead tired, and in its dreams
it ground its teeth from time to time or spoke
unintellible words. We were sitting on the bench
under a flowering apple tree and we too gazed,
quietly still. And stayed so a long time.
We didn't know what to say nor
how to help the tree, which had collapsed
in front of our eyes. Fig-tree with its head
on the floor, turned up by the roots, seeming
as if it wanted to live its post-mortem life
with its crown in the earth, its roots in the sky.
I don't know what you were thinking then,
but I couldn't help but feel that we too,
sooner or later, might collapse in just such
a way, in front of each other, or – if we're
as close as now – simply
lean against each other for ever.

Translated by Ana Jelnikar and Stephen Watts

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