Blesok no. 97, July-August, 2014

Cinderella in Chrome Casket
Translated from the Serbian by Ana Božičević

Zvonko Karanović

The Gentle Crush of Lines around the Lips

On the dark streets
there’s no-one to see the dash through puberty
the gentle crush of lines around the lips
each smile lasts
twelve days
each small sun
disappears into the sugar box
the scars are fields of roses
on Prom’s dreamy skin
and for all that,
the South is still wild
anesthetized with guilt
the paper sky of the industrial town
burns with an unforgettable fire
& mythic images of
the senseless slaughterhouse of dreams
resemble a bloody liver in the dirt
my new shelter is called TV
while I embrace the past
the stereo bears witness
and I admit
I always felt like Jesus’ son
searching for lost luxury
I asked once
where does breakfast sleep
once I made love with a sumo beauty
once I found comfort on a great wave of confetti
once I slowly, slowly like a moron
unwrapped the pack of Marlboros
lit up
and blew smoke into the spring day

Bikini for Baby, Blues for the Dewdrop

The woman held the child in her arms
in front of the cardboard barracks
on whose wall
the graffiti read
I thought the world was
a bucket of dirty laundry
that a great fiery ball
will forever merge with silence
and then I hit the gas
a moment later everything turned to oblivion

last night I dreamed
they stole all my sweaters
and set them on fire
and I was cold
terribly cold under the crown
of the old plane tree that shed its bark
at the feet of chance passers-by
when I woke
I found this note:
you’re a nervous urban wreck
buried in pop culture trash

art is something you can run away with
but it’s just a daytrip from which
you must return
with ironed faces
the strong and mighty mimes
smirked from the election posters
as a reminder that life
never loses to amateurs
politics has a fake aura of innocence
only the marathon is
a triumph of mind over matter

just like at every first snow
I bummed around the town center
and watched the snowflakes
cover the drabness of
socialist architecture
raised my hands and turned the palms
up to the sky
so they’d remember the dance
of those white defenseless princesses

All the Best Poems Talk about Longing
and Glass and Fast Cars
and Other Fragile Things

You and I sleep under glass
and let the caravans
by our frozen fingers
we send absent friends
phone signals
to color the sea on the postcard
that says:

The Russians are in orbit
tea biscuits on the table
in baby food they found
metal shavings
and everything stays
the same, same, same…

and then we talk about the moon
and bark at the TV screen
late into the night

a new day breaks
young and strong
gnawers of the mammoth bone
head into a better tomorrow
and you’d much rather
veins slit
go to sleep
in a bathtub full of warm water

life is full of bad options
you found that out while you
looked through
the dirty window of your sublet
at poplars
dancing in the wind

love is the privilege of the poor
love’s the nanny of the female heart
and that’s why all the best poems
don’t talk of love
and all you want to know is
where your life has gone
and why you spent ten years
with the man you now hate

you and I sleep under glass
and see trains off
into the blackest night
we wave white squares
press our cheeks
to the tracks and let
our tears freeze once again

I was on my way down
into the city’s bowels
when you said
you’re rushing into old age
and I’m not ready for that yet

I want to take you somewhere
where there’s more light
and people are
but I just flip the record
the plastic crackles in the shaded room

In the Cheap Candy Storefront

I’m not a slow-motion hitchhiker
I’m not a cynic at thirty
life is cruel
to those who lack a sense of humor

I’m getting nitpicky
I’m getting spoiled
and Sunday lunch with the folks
is a silent comedy
with the press of politics
and a touch of poison in the last round

discipline –
is it a passion?
order –
is that someone’s idea of a joke?
words don’t function
TVs are extinguished stars

I’m getting nervous
I’m getting lonely
in a perfect world
there are no coincidences
I sit before my plate
cheeks punctured

I entered the box
& with unsteady steps
learned to be
almond, lemon, monkey

I’m getting lonely

Noise, Speckles, Waking

I can always go away from here
and leave behind a pair of teary eyes
but who needs that
you told me
how to behave as your guest
even the day when
in my canvas hi-tops
with a blue star on round white rubber
I left jail after
twenty five years
of sitting in the dark
and waiting
for things to find me on their own
and that’s why today I can remember
hundreds of quotes
from all those I never met
and who loved me as their only son
Christ died young
because those everyone loves
don’t move the world

Eskimo Meets Albino

When I’m nervous I buy things
I don’t need
and all I want are
      forever open green
      traffic lights
you got drunk at the dance party
and ended up before the marriage clerk
but let’s talk about things
that make me close my eyes
to be alone
those who
woke up at least once
know that leather pants
a blood-red shirt
mean escape
the arms are raised and holding a tinfoil flag
tightly like the last salute
from the Titanic
look at me
a poor boredom tamer
eyes blinking
from too many films and music videos
I grew up
but I didn’t become a cynic
suicide scorns cold people
warm rain concealed on the cheeks
a tired crowd
show me love
and it will be fine
      it will do


It’s nearly painless
like solitude
like the scent of blond just-washed hair
caught by chance in passing
Mayflies die
until one
survives till the morning
and then they vanish
one day I’ll tell you
about the wreaths of dried flowers
we left
on every birch tree
lost in the fog
on the muddy path somewhere in the villages
about the girl whose hands tremble in the rain
for seven long years
I searched for my sister
and found her one afternoon
behind the first row of books
on herbs
her voice was metallic
she swallowed tokens
and joints
with chocolate
we’d never met
she slept inside the walnut shell
and used to say conversations were
just long goodbyes
often she’d enter my room
and touch my hair until
it turned to dust
into hands that tremble
in the rain


I returned to town
to find them standing
the gallery and the café
stiff, staring at the concrete
and waiting for midnight to draw the blinds on
another day
I returned and saw masses
of lifeless young flesh
on the streets and sidewalks
mangy leering
that eat out of anyone’s hand
and only talk about themselves
O, how well
I knew the town
I was born
how I felt despair pulse
each mote of dust
born and dying
in this place I also belong to
I wanted to vanish
smash with my fist
the window of the claustrophobic
submarine of consciousness
and lift from my shoulders
the weight of the ocean
on whose floor I run
with the sure step
of an ancient habit
I stood by them
swallowed the small sour carton
and joined in that moment of silence
I stared at the concrete
and breathed in cigarette smoke
the town groaned
under solitude’s stampede
shoes of all shapes and colors
fell from the sky
& I kissed the ones
I love best
black pointy stilettos

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