Blesok no. 95, March-April, 2014

The Beautiful City
Translated from Macedonian by Elizabeta Bakovska

Ilina Jakimovska

Decent Distance

It’s taken from too close
you probably hold the camera yourself.

As always on photos like that
some parts of the face are bulged,
some properly excused:
the nose is like a tomato,
the eyes are like saucers,
the smile is stupid.

“It’s me
when there was nobody around”
“I’m testing the macro
of my new Canon”,
can be good captions.

It’s the same when I’m too close to you –
nothing is symmetrical,
nothing is right.

You’re unshaved or you’ve aged,
you didn’t sleep well or turned ugly?
Is that you or not?

“My warmth for her came back”,
says Kokorush in a short story,
“the admiration that you can only feel
for the person distant to you”.

Do we admire each other from a distance,
or are we just distant?


The garbage truck
passes at ten pm,
its yellow rotation
lights against our windows.

Have we gotten used to waiting for it
listening to it approaching,
sighing mildly
when it passes by.

It is good,
there is still some order in the universe –
a season to pile up the garbage,
and a season to collect it.

Tonight we sit
at the window again,
summarizing the day that passed.

We got up
we washed
we ate a bagel
we typed
somebody called
we made lunch
we walked in the sun
we watched the new
we read

The truck is the only thing left
to round it up.

Here it is, coming and going,
now we can go to bed.

Life is not a river, it is not a dream.

It is a garbage truck,
passing by in time.

Tuesday, 3 May, 21.30 hrs.

The Beautiful City

There’s an entrance at Leninova,
in summer
it’s freezing cold,
in winter
smells of noble mould,
the one that grows only in
proper homes basements.

Next to Treska, in Hrom
there’s a little wooden bridge
and the best sunset –
pastoral background
of wrecked cars,
garbage and syringes.

Nobody’s seen a flasher for a long time
uphill to science faculty,
even they grew distant
from nature
and high education.

At Partizanska in June
the linen trees are on ecstasy,
covered with obituaries
about the persecuted smell
of roasted peppers.

At the place of the snack shop
across from the Faculty of Civil Engineering
now there are fountains,
before there were roasted chestnuts
and juices made of syrup and water –
we always took different ones
to share.

Some new kids
rolling by the river,
pretty girls on the asphalt,
at their age
we only jumped rope and played marbles.

I want to take a ride
through the city by bus –
that way you can both move
and remain deep in your thoughts
during the façade slide show.

There is some melancholy when
you move through the crowd
on Makedonija street
listening to Johnny Cash
Oh Death, where is thy sting?,

strolling along it
on 1st of January,
and no living soul around.

The city changes
and you grow old,
you are sad
that you haven’t adjusted
to tupsi-tupsi cafés,
bronze lions
and Baroque bridges,
and that you no longer have the guts
to move out.

Nothing in the city
will be named after you,
for better –
imagine a garbage dump,
or a street leading to nowhere.

Your dead friends
wave at you from the balconies,
that meet you behind the corners,
those still alive
frequent the Internet.

But there is a window
I know you breathe behind,
and see, that comforts me.
No Triumphal Arch
can come close
to your closeness.

That’s why I can easily stand
this Skopje that grows fast,
while “our” city
slowly kicks the bucket.

13 November 2011

Gjavato Études
for clarinet and orchestra


After two weeks
of watching only MTV
we called a satellite
from Bitola.
Just as he came
the electricity was gone,
nothing we could do.

Long is the hand
of state


Two obituaries
on the poll
in two days.
Even if we hadn’t seen them
we would still have known
that death had entered
the village.
It dies anyway.


The yellow hammock
between two trees
is blown by the wind –
looks like a belly
of a pregnant woman.

It explains
why you turn
into a foetus .


Every time we go out
we fill our car
with garbage bags,
so that we don’t throw it
into the village river.
All the way to Slivnica
it stinks
like spoiled meat.

Good intentions
are paved
with strong stench.


At the Ohrid entrance
across from each other
two funeral homes –
one is eternal dream,
the other one peaceful.
When you come to think of it
there is a qualitative difference.
Near there’s “Parliament” restaurant,
eternal glory
and real democracy.


At the place of Park hotel
they build apartments
with a view to the lake,
EUR 2.500 per square meter.
Can I get
a hypotenuse
for EUR 100?


The village is called Flat,
and there is
a kilometre long uphill to it.
They must have wanted
to screw the Turks,
so they move uphill
without proper preparations.
The rebels hid
behind the bushes
and giggled
when they started
to cuss,
kerata, anasana

So, we did have
geo-strategic policies.


Nobody mentions
Pero Sibev any more,
the most famous
Gjavato drunkard.
When I was a kid he came to visit
and when we asked him
what he wanted to drink
dressed in a Srem Front
military coat
he said:
“I’d prefer
a cup of coffee with milk.”


In the centre of Bitola, a graffiti:
“Macedonian, weak up!”

Grammar is the opium
for the masses.


Resen monument
shaped like an apple
must have rusted,
like a rotten one.
Still, it becomes a fruit,
since it is organic
to be rotten.
What about a babe?


When he was a kid
my father had a dog,
they called it Barack.
It was surplus
and they gave it away in Svinjista,
If the Americans heard
about Barack’s persecution now
we would be in trouble.


Somebody stole the road sign
at the entrance to the village,
but at a right turn
next to it
there is a self-made sign
“Gulabova maala”.

Steal globally,
act locally.


This year, for the first time
I wasn’t stung by a mosquito.
Doesn’t look good.
If the insects don’t care
about me anymore,
soon the people
will stop caring too.


The buzz of the bees
mixes with the buzz
of the refrigerator.

Honey and meat.


Zivko Topev
who lives on the hill
was called
Boom TV –
his was the only place
that had TV.


“A slime’s hanging from your nose,
do you have a cold?”
“No, it’s an accessory”,
says Ivan,
and pushes it back in.


“Strangers in the night”
on my father’s
Sounds the same as
“Ne se beli Mare mori”.
Woody Allen’s
must be the opposite.

Was That It?

It will be
like a monitor switched off,
children playground under snow.
Empty film screen.

Until yesterday there were games,
and all of a sudden – silence.

Somebody here is alive,
but it is not me.
I wake up in vain.

On the end credits
names, places and faces:
“special thanks to…”,
funded by,
casting by.

This went kind of quick –
when did it start,
when did it end?
We didn’t even
finish the popcorn.

The hall is empty,
and I’m still waiting.

The Most Important Game

The whole neighbourhood echoes
with inconsolable meowing –
a kitten calls its mother
or want to eat something.

In the middle of the night I want
to search for it among the yards,
it’s black and white
with big, scared eyes,
and it runs away when I approach it.

The first day in school –
the solemnity of the moment covers my fear
that the merciful touch of childhood
slowly turns into a strong squeeze.
Some children stick to their mothers’ skirts,
others look somehow dignified,
ready to fight what they still do not understand,
and yet it floats above the school yards as a phantom.

It’s been several days now
and not a sound from the kitten.
Somebody could have taken it home,
it got used to the street, or was hit by a car.
There are not many options for the small creatures
trying to find their way.

I see you holding your friend’s hand
they put you in line.
You go without turning
and my heart aches –
you are so small and vulnerable,
and so determinate in your walk.

I wish you a victory in the game
that nobody won so far.

1 September 2012

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