Blesok no. 98, September-October, 2014

When I Return From War
Translated by Damir Šodan

Marko Tomaš

When I Return From War

Perhaps I should go to some war.
Become a real man in a manly situation.
I am no longer good at predicting the future.
I am curing alcoholism with a rather conservative method.
In other words – I am gradually trying to quit.
How did the sea enter my verses? How did I grab the gun?
My face covered in moss, the smell of unknown soil.
I dream of agaves – our names carved into a single leaf. I miss you.

When I return from the war, I will kill you, I'll sit on the sofa,
light up a cigarette and let you bleed lying on the carpet.
Today I ate snails. How did we end up here? We have gone far, way too far.
I have tattooed your name on my forearm. You won't like it.
Perhaps I should try describing the sky? I think yesterday I killed a man.

When I return from war, I will kill all of those who seduced you while I was gone,
I will kill them before the eyes of their dearest the same way they killed me
When they slid between your thighs.
I have problems writing. Worms. Fire. Mutilation. However, it's mostly worms.
I feel sorry for the tree we knocked down yesterday. Do you like me, kitty?
Today it's raining. Soon we're off to the woods. Nature is beautiful.

When I return from the war, I will make sculptures out of wire,
I will calmly mow my lawn, grow roses,
keeping your heart safe in a jewellery box.
I'm all sticky from the mud. We're listening to the radio. Some sad song for the sad soldiers.
One of the murdered boys looked me straight in the eye. I was pissing blood. They say I caught a bad cold.
When we reached the sea, the captain shot himself in the forehead.
They are supplying us with rations of marijuana and brandy. Many of us are inconsolable.
We got hooked on death. I'm writing a poem for you, expect it in the next letter.

On the bedside table my photo in uniform.

Try This, Dear Wagner

Now, awaiting my thirtieth birthday,
I can never get rid of the depression,
because I still don't understand baseball.

I wasn't born an insect.
I cannot forgive my mother for that.
There is no efficient poison spray
for my kind.

I don't listen to the radio anymore.
Everyday on the shortwave God gets
reborn as a voodoo doll
in the hands of a Nazi war criminal.

I can barely stand
the hysterical yoga practitioners.
They have found meaning. They live stress-free.
My ass!

Bing Crosby, the Christmas torture,
I cannot think of enough disparaging terms
for all the bullshit humanity falls for.

I should be listening to Wagner,
but I cannot find any Wagner on my computer.

A woman will take my last name.
Our kids will be figurehead angels.

I will bring them handfuls of juicy, ripe oranges.
The house will smell of olive oil.

I would love to be perfect like the sea.

My People

My people are scattered in distant cities.
My people wake up in Saigon and Managua.
They drink in bars in Zagreb and on those parapets in Split.
They get wasted on speed in Sarajevo nights.
They drive their kids to school on the streets of Vienna.
They hallucinate underneath the Berlin sky.
They hurry to work in Paris.
They play banjo in the bars of Edinburgh.
They practise yoga in Sombor.
They piss in the entrances of buildings in Belgrade.
They make love on the Bosporus.
They tell juicy jokes in the gardens of Mostar.
They wash dishes in the Copenhagen restaurants.
They are looking for a sunny spot in Oslo.
Homeless orphans, much like those Dickens boys and girls.
My people – I say.


It's still here, the mean bank of the river.
That's where I grew up.
Raised by my grandma and my grandpa.
My whole childhood I listened to horrible stories.
That taught me respect.
Those stories and terror I used to feel
walking down the street.
Sometimes I would hear distant echoes
of some pointless desperate battle,
would sense the stench
that flame-throwers leave behind.
And only the smell of wet dough
in my grandma's kitchen
would bring me back to reality
that each time looked more and more yellow
like that Mitteleuropean sky.
In fact those young Israeli pilgrims
are really horrible.
They stumble in drunken rage over that place with so much sadness.
The sadness I haven't been able to shake off my whole life.
My girlfriends, the stewardesses, all tell me
that the worst flights to work on
are those from Tel Aviv to Warsaw.
You hear no kaddish, just burping and drunken cussing.
Oh, those Israeli youth in Zamenhof Street
always used to creep me out.
Every time after they left,
leaving behind the smell of alcohol,
heaps of trash and cigarette buts,
just like in my childhood I would
hear the distant echoes
of some pointless desperate battle.

A Little Man in a Little Town

Little men in little towns are obsessed
with their own stature.
The same goes for me, I’m looking for a perfect
little spot for all these little words
in order to electrify my homeland.
But this search for the homeland will someday
be the death of me.

Tom Waits hates me
whenever I try to write
like American poets.
For this little history little words
that can pass each other on a narrow road
should suffice.
Not to mention that try as I might
I will never be able to get rid of the heavy Slavic accent.

In a little town everything is a little toned down.
For example, street-lights are never strong enough
to light up this entire prosaic fresco,
as they can barely embrace a young couple
having a fight, or that linden
to whose smell I have always been allergic
to the extent that it makes me really hate
this little town spring.

I would like – like other little men in big cities –
to really mind my own business, but I am too bloodthirsty,
plus the little parks in my little town have indeed turned
into little cemeteries and I never fail
to rub everyone’s nose into that fact into everyone’s nose, because
the glorious war merits of us little people
are just enormous.
Nobody wants us – little people – for his enemy!

Our condescension, our haughtiness, our haughty-naughty-haughtiness
will always defeat every decent word.

For we are little people,
we are arrogant people,
we are not-entirely-fulfilled-people.

Walking across this wasted land.

Morning in Mahallah

It is morning – Tuesday!
The spring is fat
like a castrated tomcat.
Behind the high walls of the houses in mahallah
someone’s waking to a cough.
Paul Celan’s wandering look
gets stuck at the top
of a cypress.
Resting there
like a shot-down sun
releasing a yellowish butter of light.
The houses, the fortresses
blown up from the inside
are resting in ruins.
The way someone chews food
can easily turn into an unbearable experience.
You find refuge in a dream
as if fleeing before the Barbarians.
You wake up reluctantly getting into
the heavy armor of a short-lived future
marked by the money
you have to set aside for utilities.
In fact, the night has the color of coffee.
Soon the former proletarians will begin they daily quarrels.

* Mahallah – Old Turkish quarter.

People's Revolution Boulevard

Nothing there except for a big City Lights ad and
a few automobiles and it's always raining
or at least it appears like that
on the People's Revolution Boulevard

The street of truth, the street of lies, the desert's main street
with the remains of aunt Fatima's apartment
and two rows of barren trees
on the People's Revolution Boulevard

There are no addresses here for mail to arrive
no random passers-by
Nothing except that drizzle that kills everything
on the People's Revolution Boulevard

About a Certain Faraway War

I am older
than my older brother.
Someone I don't know
is leaving him flowers
writing a book
slumped over the keyboard.
I know he loved the sea
and had secret longings.
Under his ribs
he was fighting some war.
That's all I know
about him.
That's how much we can know
about each other anyhow.
Being so inaccessible.
Like two strangers in a passenger car.
Each with his own hope
between the intertwined fingers.
With hope unspoken.
My brother is far away.
Warsaw where I was born is so far away.
You your river and your dog are far away.
Your war is far away
and so alien to me.
Piotrkowska Street is on fire
and the walls are crumbling down on passers-by.
Why did you tell me all those things?
Every time I fall asleep
I walk into a nightmare.
Love is a serious crime.
You know it best.

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