Blesok no. 94, January-February, 2014

Full Month in Istanbul

Branko Čegec

Getting Dark in the East

pistachio cake disappears in a single bite.
a blind singer changed his hair style.
he shaved, he put on a new shirt.
a sound is not something that we agree upon.
it is incised in all sides of the world
and disseminates orientation:
up is down, down is west,
east is afterwards and like this
for forty thousand kilometers.
taximeter is not on in the sunset
during the traffic jam on the bridge between continents.
which side is darker?
always the one you are arriving to.
there are only a few months on the menu.
and yet it is already a closing time:
trumpeters pat.
drummers take newspapers and ice-cream away:
it is late for shopping and for pausing.
you take your bags and you go out:
it is hot, it is cold
between the legs.

                                       Translated by Ana Sviličić

A Flood

you were really smart:
you lit the candles and
you turned on the taps in the bathroom.
sound of the water was louder
then vehicles and screams.
you travelled with your fingers
alongside and across.
a poacher in a rainforest.
you fell asleep and you woke up,
talking about dreams.
talking in a sleep
in which one remains.
a sound of water.
a waterfall near bed,
swift butterflies attend to
heightened senses.
a storm doesn’t calm down.
entire building is under water.
and nobody, just nobody
knows how to swim.

                                       Translated by Ana Sviličić

A Woman Who Craved Ice

I knew instantly
that you are a devil in the horoscope,
because I read from the eyes.
you write for illiterates.
you think that nobody expects an answer.
a fat man
took for a walk
a pair of  beautiful eyes:
is she a woman?
is she a child?
she darts, like wild-fire, all the way to your bones.
you cover your body.
eyes denude everything.
to whom your solitude belongs,
you ask while I brutally exterminate
a fat piece of chocolate
it is always like this when I am happy!
I crave ice all over my body.
there is snow in the Andes,
and I adore winter:
out of  its precision
my best girl friends appear.
you do not have to talk about solitude with them.
with them you do not have to do anything.

                                       Translated by Ana Sviličić


again no-good is so good!
plum-brandy is in the blood,
snow in the nose,
flora in the lungs.
soft-boiled for breakfast,
hard-boiled for supper.
sex and food come
at the end, the beginning, and in-between.
sex kills business hours,
food other sports..
I don't want to go to heaven
for I know nobody there,
if heavens is what they talk about.
requiem for healthy food,
the repose of virtue,
the long litany for safe sex.
you have never
really quit smoking.
you're thirsty without wine,
hungry without pornography.
where does good end and no-good start?
you look at the covered: what do you see?
you look at the uncovered: what do you see?
the covered reveals,
the uncovered conceals,
no-good is good,
good is no-good:
it's slippery on a seesaw.

                                       Translated by Mario Susko


should one wake up young men
and head for the tunnel?
they are so laid-back,
eager to dodge any resistance.
guitars are much better,
dancers too above the plains.
adrenaline no longer lives at great heights:
it descended into scrotums,
hormonal refuge,
from there directions
and semantics to be cut out.
words that stay in the game,
young words from times immemorial,
those that bore meaning
and then not.
now their sprays sketch names
and pathos on walls
around galata and everywhere else.
the most beautiful language
is the one you do not understand.
there lies the truth and the future.
between the message and the meaning
nobody succeeds in raising a bridge.
the bridges over bosporus
resist symbols.
surgery is on the other side.
you excise something, add something.
bypass is of itself.
you stop,
buy a boat, and
go fishing.

                            Translated by Mario Susko


bureaucracy is the mother.
do you know who the father is?
caterpillars count statistics:
there's shortage of numbers
you used to mask war mysteries
and the drudgery of mental institutions:
the healthy are sick, the sick, healthy:
turn her around, twist her
for lindjo dance and for mogadishu:
the black princess comes down
and opens her dress.
guests and visitors are on their way out.
the immense crowd starts to chant:
how much of this? how much beyond sight?
you hennaed your little belly hair
and laughed at vulgarities,
laughed hysterically
at the pack of dogs.
they howled, kept jumping over corpses:
one is a sheep-dog, the other a werewolf.
the pack is hungry,
the pack is thirsty,
attacks the blood flow,
spreads out the front-line
along the railroad track, then toward the marble.
do you know who could bring that to a halt?
do you know who the father is, the narrator, the falsifier?
the mother is the father.

Translated by Mario Susko

Advertisement for Death

a huge wind swooped down from bulgaria,
bringing nearness that made
the whole suburb go down.
everyone's mind was reeling,
the picture and the sound came off and on,
and tonight a man
simply collapsed
and died in the middle of istiklal.
people gathered,
gave a piece of advice,
one tried to resuscitate him,
another to open his clenched fist:
to no avail!
to no avail!
two police cars arrived,
the ambulance and a passing khojah.
some took photos;
you can't photograph death!
I muttered to myself
in croatian,
convinced no one would understand
that cheap provocation.
the wind lifted cardboard boxes
hurling them toward taksim.
a group of street players played frantically,
without stopping, as if running from something,
fifty meters away they were from the dead body
that was being wrapped in a black bag,
the way the police usually do that.
no, no, not a single initial movement ceased!
no, no, no one stopped advertising durum and roast chestnuts!
the sirens merged with the sounds of other sirens!
ten minutes later at the very same spot
barefoot boys playing traditional instruments
were rearranging
complicated tunes.
there were those others there,
on the other side of the street,
but the news did not reach them.

                                        Translated by Mario Susko

Fragments about Photography

a face robber

Going out in the street is a barbaric raid on other person’s privacy: I go by shooting, steeling the faces of passer-bys, entering their physiognomies as a sniper in the streets of the Balkan towns twenty years ago. I stand at the Tunnel, with the objective unrolled like a horse phallus and victims keep advancing unstoppably. Little rascals are calling me, girls notice objective and quickly set up a smile, a hair and cloths.
A young man carrying a child is not aware that sadness from the eyes stays petrified on the screen of digital camera. A big black back is approaching, another big black back; you place them in cadres and manipulate. A girl with her face covered in black veil, with her eyes encircled with violet crayon: I say big eyes for they are the deepest abyss that you can look closely at. Then you take a photo of a ruin near luxurious hotel and provoke a rage of passer- bys: Do not touch the soul of the city, shoot at us, we can endure everything!  A young man with an old look in his eyes passes by and hisses: Fuck off, photographer!


A deep blue eye is a flash which you froze. You open it at computer screen and enlarge it. It gets deep, it gets cold. You look at it closely and you drown in it. A photo does not only hold an image of what was shot but also of the one who shot it. His reflection is always in the other one, in particular when we speak about photos of the faces.  But, it is not the same thing whether you shoot the faces who want it, in the studio and under the lights, or the faces of passer-bys in the streets. And only in the latter case you intrude privacy and innermost feelings, you peek through a key-hole: you have no alibi for voyerism…
It is unbelievable how we are easy on raiding someone’s private space, privacy of complete strangers while at the same time we are confident that our privacy is reserved for us only, spared from any diversion.
Translated by Ana Sviličić

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