Blesok no. 112, March-April, 2017

Selected Poems
Excerpt from the book “Selected Poems” (Blesok, 2016)

Marko Tomaš


Translated to English: Rumena Bužarovska
My people are scattered in cities.
    My people wake up in Saigon and Managua.
    They drink in the Zagreb taverns and on the low walls of Split.
    They get high on speed in the Sarajevo nights.
    They drive kids to school on the streets of Vienna.
    They hallucinate under the Berlin sky.
    They hurry to their jobs in Paris.
    They play banjo in the pubs of Edinburgh.
    They do yoga in Sombor.
    They piss in the corridors of Belgrade buildings.
    They love each other on the Bosphorus.
    They tell dirty jokes in the gardens of Mostar.
    They do dishes in the restaurants of Copenhagen.
    They look for sunny spots in Oslo.
    Homeless orphans, Dickensian boys and girls.
    My folk, I say.


Translated to English: Rumena Bužarovska
because your beauty is making me divinely
    sad and your warm body is not letting me sleep
    and your lips on mine utter the most beautiful of prayers
    and every touch is a vow
    how is it that we ordinary people
    children of streets and swear-words and workers
    how is it that we are in this kingdom
    made of centuries of tears of joy of life
    how is it that we now have this faith
    and God’s face, kind and eternal over our fitful dreams
    when life and death are both love and sorrow
    and everything is restlessness whirlpools fear and force
    and nothing human is eternal and we are no longer
    young and the music plays and the night draws to an end.

And, again this time in between two wars, the most restless time in my people´s lives.
    My grandfather, Venya, was in a camp on a rock in the middle of
    the sea,
    the island of Mamula, he ate rats
    and for nights he kept dreaming of a cigarette, ten meters long.
    I understand that it only matters that we are humiliated,
    that we are only made to feed on rats and dream of cigarettes.
    Imagine all of those unhappy women in the world of humiliated warriors.
    I rarely travel by train, Venya,
    in general, former socialist enthusiasts rarely travel by train, and
    when I do it makes me angry that there is no restaurant,
    no beer, Venya, no cheap liquor, not a single bottle of industrial
    nor a decent sandwich of thick pieces of bread and dry meat,
    and smoking is forbidden too, everywhere except in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country where faces
    are crumbled like the landscape they live in. You understand now why I don’t know how to reach the Kremlin,
    Come on, Venya, my angel, send me at least a drop, the silverfish heavenly vodka, a tiny gram, Venya,
    some drizzle, Venya, from the vodka-bearing cloud.
    I’ll die too, Venya, that day will come, but I’ll never understand those assholes.


Translated to English: Elizabeta Bakovska

       I have never seen the Kremlin
    the red walls, keeping the masters of the order.
    My dear Venya, my most precious, my only one, I have nobody but you,
    you at least had a choir of drunken angels,
    you could laugh at their crapulent wings,
    the heavenly vodka you pour down is strong.
    The working class is gone, the cable workers,
    tourists rush on a train through Siberia, Americans even,
    admiring the skies of Vladivostok,
    and they don´t know, assholes, how it feels to be born near the polar circle,
    in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
    Petty intriguants are on full speed again, picking,
    plotting, scratching,
    surviving, feeding, Venya, just like leaches, on misfortune.
    You can´t blame them, no other place to go early in the morning,
    for factory chimneys were extinguished, the volcanoes of socialist
    as the fog sneaked up the narrow road to the hills
    like a traveller sneaking the hotel within paying at the moment
    the receptionist starts to snore.
    Our people are ugly, mean, with small eyes, bloated with rakija and meat.
    They slime each other´s cheeks, they cry on each other´s shoulders, swear to brotherhood, and
    the next moment they shove broken bottles under each other´s throats.
    They are not even close to the bronze giants the communists used to make
    rushing to approve their working enthusiasm.
    Petty and cowardice are our people, envious, without future,
    spitting at the past,
    all molded in the present,
    and the present, that whore, simply
    mildews a man.
    Oh, this time in between two wars, the most restless time in my people´s lives.
    Venya, my angel, send me at least a drop,
    the silverish heavenly vodka, a tiny gram, my Venya.
    This is not, forgive me Venya, Russia. This is Bosnia and
    Herzegovina, the land of the indecisive and defeated,
    There is a bunch of shitty alibies here not to do
    absolutely anything,
    No war has ever ended, they only postponed it for the next occasion,
    and it´s here, the end is here, it´s about our souls, the very last drop.
    Bosnians and Herzegovinians piss me off, a bunch of failed
    jerks that have been staring at the moon for too long, as Bukowski says. The freedom
    of some is a prison to others and so it has been for centuries, in circles.
    The murderers to some are heroes to others and so it has been for centuries, Venya,
    and I haven’t had a sip for days, ´cause I won´t cry like a pig on the street,
    what will my mother say, my poor mother, when she hears the hustle, the whispers, ´cause
    there´s nothing worse than being drunk among alcoholics.
    And I need it, a tiny gram, for tomorrow, for another stinky morning.
    I´m sensitive,
    I find it hard to bear all of those bones
    piling up in the central news.

There are also those who are really hungry, you can´t but feel sorry, the old ones, Venya,
    the humiliated,
    those without dignity, the war takes victims event in times
    of peace,
    Today one pays in dignity and humanity.
    That´s why I piss on their war
    and shit on their peace.
    I always feel like crying, Venya, you wouldn´t understand it,
    Not only because I´m a good soul,
    but ´cause
     I´m so angry that my own rage hits my head,
     it punches me in the plexus with a good hook
     so my ribs hurt and I choke.
     I cry over my own fate, Venya,
     not over the fate of Igor Stravinsky, although I tried to write
    the lyrics of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian anthem,
    a reason good enough
    to have me locked up in a psych ward.
    It is difficult to create your own tradition, a person, small, invisible
    for the tanks and bunkers of history.
    Again this time in between two wars, the most restless time in my people´s lives.
     It might sound banal, but I’m sick of flags,
    I feel like crying from the anarchists, my balls itch from the communists,
    patriotism and nationalists give me a facial rash, my tongue grows
    When I see a pile of proud morons under any
    activists, artists infrastructuralists, dumbasses
    lured by phrenology,
    ready to kill and die I fall
    into anaphylactic shock.
    No, of this they cure me with an adrenalin shot,
    While I mention their mothers in unpleasant context.
    I will die too, Venya, that day will come, but I will not understand those assholes.
    As a matter of fact, I claim the right to be banal and pathetic,
    just like I have the right to get drunk like Kinaski,
    turn the furniture in my apartment upside down and vomit in the sink,
    you can create a style out of everything, the rule, that distant ideal:
    a shit pie.
    Come on, Venya, my angel, send me at least a drop, the silverish
    heavenly vodka, a small gram, dear Venya, a bit of rain,
    my Venedict, from the vodka-bearing cloud.
    My uncle was massacred in the war, they tied him with a wire and
    burnt him alive.
    People claim he was a hero. He was a hero to me even before he died.
    I’d have loved that he stayed that, a hero for me only, that he had escaped
    to America.
    Now we’d sit by Carver’s spring and fish for salmon.

I shit on the hammer and sickle, the shock worker’s shovel, better past,
    I transfer my norm
    for united Europe, for peace without freedom,
    because of abandoned riverside beaches, because of destroyed streets, because of
    peacetime victims,
    because of dead heroes who never fought for their ideals,
    because of children who were left without their heroes,
    because of every man who was kicked out of his home at gunpoint,
    because of stadiums that stink of concentration camps,
    because I feel sick in my stomach, Venya, and I don’t have a single
    nor a plan how to reach the Kremlin.
    Do you know that I am Dalmatian, made of salt, a stormy one,
    and a Serb, Venya, a Slovenian Bosnian, a real Herzegovinian
    made of stone,
    a Yugoslav who bathes only on Saturdays before the evening news,
    farting under his quilt, not looking for a decent job,
    huh, do you know that, Venedict?
    I am the kind who addresses a Russian, who, by the way,
    is long dead,
    ‘cause I have a poet’s heart and I need some heavenly vodka
    to be able to stand myself.
    Besides, I am a chronic smoker, and a sucker, a loser,
    I smoke and I smoke, but I won’t stop, Venya, not me,
    I am too sad and angry to stand by them.
    The gulag is a global system, everybody participates,
    some people establish it, some reveal it, some suffer it.
    I won’t stand by the founders and spies, I am a genetic prisoner,
    I serve my time in the Mediterranean gulag,
    forgotten, as they say, both by God and the people.
    Here the summers are crueller than the winter that stopped Napoleon’s
    And it breaks me, Venya, this disgust, this inhumanity breaks me,
    although I know that nobody is innocent
    and therefore, I too have sinned.
    I don’t know, Venya, how you’re supposed to live
    I don’t know how one should die either
    I’m not the problem
    nor the solution to the problem.
    Nothing is sacred to me
    There is no country, no flag, not anthem, no idea,
    I don’t believe in anything, Venya
    Nor do I believe in love, Venya, it is really dark and dirty,
    horrible, big, final as death itself, Venya.
    I don’t believe in anything
    and I don’t know anything,
    except, maybe, that I need some vodka
    and directions how to reach the Kremlin.

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