Blesok no. 93, November-December, 2013
Poetry


And other salutary walks
Translated from Serbian by Novica Petrović

Dejan Matić



The Third Square


What are we waiting for, gathered here in the agora?
Cavafy

A chance encounter between a young man and a girl in the street.
And there is so little time for them in this city.
They pause for a moment, in wonderment.
They look at each other, touch, smile.
Then she tells him about a small town
on the Greek shore, where gardens
have gone mad from odours and colours, and streets from light.
“I saw”, she says, “from the window of my hotel room,
two young people in the square riding on roller skates;
– obviously a couple; the noon sun burned
their faces and nicely built bodies.”




To Himself


           It is good to love: for, love is hard.
Rilke

He has always been attracted by female saints.
Potential ones. Mystics, by intimation.
He met with virgins, mad
and wise. Analysed dreams;
in a monastery.
Talked about it with a prostitute.
He took his study of literature lightly.
He didn’t care about great secrets, libraries.
He watched the tree of life in chaos.
At a certain angle. For himself.
He did not pass the exam in romanticism:
he failed on account of the dead sweetheart motif.




A Special Condition


Always be frank.
            Musashi

Ponder this deeply:
erasing takes less time
than writing.
It is older.
As is the case with silence and voice.
And oblivion and memory.
In the beginning was a lie.
And if you erase everything
in a timely manner.
Every statement.
Every message.
Then come to me.
Without the lethal truth.
Let me see you, darling.




A Romantic Statement


When he tells you: I love you.
He is referring to a train that is arriving.
A view from the window.
Of a hostel room.
Sun-drenched roofs.
(Of Saint Petersburg, for example.)
A common bed.
And most of all:
to visits to the cemetery.
And other salutary walks.




Young Russian Girls


See, that’s interesting.
You should be frank.
Tell only the truth.
So that they understand you.
So that you hide everything.
That which you mustn’t admit.
That which you won’t say.
But choose you words carefully.
Like ear-rings. For the ears.
Isn’t it fun?




Mistake


Why are you doing this to me?
Haven’t we set limits?
Reached an agreement?
Made a new pact?
Who believed it was now possible?
And saw it and wished for it immediately?
Who never returned from a journey?
Who opted for a lie first?
And what is this?
Say it!




Breaking the Habit


You don’t have to say it.
I know it: everybody lies.
Just get ready.
Bathe your body thoroughly.
Choose the colours that you want.
The nail varnish.
And don’t worry any longer:
What place?
What time?
It is being filmed.
In the main city square.
In the hellishly strong sun.
Don’t you know you are inflammable?
At any moment.
I’ll be watching.
I’ll lie to you.
Until the day I die.




Cruising


I’ve taken a cross with me.
Made of wood.
And it’s not that heavy.
But it’s confusing:
when I search for a heart
I touch wood.
A crucifix-noose.
I squeeze my throat, neck.
Then you bring a heart.
A stone-childlike one.
Genuine. Green-blue.
Firm.
Shall I take it?
Place it between my teeth?
Under my tongue?
Should I shut up?
Not enough for you?




Once Upon a Time in Belgrade


      Where will I go, when I leave Rome?
     Crnjanski

Inside a Spanish bar. Standing at the bar.
You may understand:
you must go on.
Keep moving on.
As far as possible.
After everything that’s been lost.
A bit confused-lost.
(But warmed up.)
For, all that:
those affairs-souvenirs.
My dear R.
(Waiting for a guest to arrive, for instance.)
Peter out.
In another bar.
In a room-bed.
In pitch dark.




Learning Grammar


Learning the grammar of Old Greek,
my body numb, its position irregular;
distant from the sleepy inhabitants of the city,
perfectly foreign to both old Greeks and myself,
in these wee hours I imagine reading Homer
in the original.

Words that I don’t entirely understand, forms
that I don’t recognise, take a deep breath:
twisting their tongue like a kiss on the mouth.
But that foreign, long awaited sound
captivates:
like passions we come forward to meet;
it comes like a beginning and an end,
A and Ω.

And when Odysseus, this time for good, leaves
Ithaca and sails towards world’s shores,
I get up from the table, lie on the bed:
on the tranquil surface of the sea.




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