Blesok no. 52, January-February, 2007

Çok seni severam & other barely explainable poems
Translated from Croatian by: Damir Šodan

Predrag Lucić

Çok seni severam

If I don't live to see St. Peter's Day
Go and marry again
And may the wedding be galičko
So I can hear you ljepoto
At the graveyard when they launch into teškoto.

All those dead lads
And me: possibly dead – possibly drunk
Laying there under the false name of
Atanas Parahodotov

And as you gather the dead wedding guests
I shall rise from somebody else's grave
But only if you tell me – you know what
If you tell me – like Nina Spirova
If you tell me
Çok seni severam.

Širok Sokak

Milton Manaki
Is caught in a cross-fire:
Bronze partisans
Fight knights of the Jedi

The war is raging
The Red Star versus
Lucas' Star Warriors
The revenge of the Sith
The revenge of Tito
Whichever prevails!

And in the heat
Of the battle
A somebody-nobody
Neither a partisan nor a knight
A specimen of a sort
And a flabby one indeed
Enters the frame shouting:

Here's the Slovenian consulate
Photographing the premises
Is not allowed!

I lower my camera.
Hey Manaki do you hear this idiot?
– I say.

But Manaki hardly flinches
And silently takes his shot
Maybe he knows

Maybe he knows
That the day shall come
When some chargé d'affaires
Will order him in a flat voice
To put away his camera
For security reasons
And to step away immediately

It's all ready for the final shot
The idiot is about to step into the frame
And I somehow fear that even Judgment Day
May feel very much like this:
Some junior clerk from St. Peter's Office
Will turn up and order everyone to part in peace
Since no gathering has been announced
Not even in the Kedron Valley
Or on the Mount of Olives
Or at the Golden Gate

And may angels pray as they should
That the wire be removed
Because if the municipal serviceman turns up
Then God help them
For Doomsday would be nigh

Man is not a Bird

I spin this story in my head about Siljan the Stork
Who is both here and there
As I walk towards the cape of Konjsko
Hoping for a trophy shot
Of the only European pelican

Naturally they don't wait for me to come too close
And chirp – “Birdy!”
They wave to me from the distance instead:
Many regards from the Lake of Prespa

But I am neither Siljan nor a stork
I am neither here nor there
I am nowhere to be precise

I can neither swim or fly
None of the two
As I’m neither a rosy pelican nor an ordinary one

As un-nestled as I am
I'm trying to figure out what Frans Lanting
Tim Laman
Quinton and Nigge
And all those folks
Who take pictures of birds in flight
For National Geographic
Might do in a moment like this?  

And how much salt they carry with them
To sprinkle on the birds' tails?

The Murmur of Material

In Gevgelia there is a man
Who once was and has remained just a man
Even back then when one ought to have been
Either a Cro or a Srb
A Mac or an Alb

So what?
Someone will say.

Big deal!
Others will add.

And in the ensuing
Murmur of dissonant voices
I will yet again fail to hear
Have any of them really tried?

Predrag Samardžiski

In the Macedonian Globus
That goes under the name of Fokus
I read an interview with a basketball player
Who says:
In Macedonia they call me a bastard,  
But in Partisan I am a star!

If only Sinan Gudžević could be here
To answer him in epigrammatic form
That although he may be a star in Partisan
In the Red Star a partisan he cannot be

And even in Partisan

Times being what they are
A star you may well be
But a partisan no chance
No way

Filter Jugoslavija

On the red box of Filter Jugoslavija
Produced by the Prilep tobacco factory
The new letters
Shine where “Yugoslavia”
Once used to be

And how can you now explain to brothers
Who hone hawthorn stakes
Driving them all the way from Potkoren
To Gevgelia into her dead soil

That you can no longer approach a kiosk
And ask for Yugoslavia and matches
And that nowhere
I mean nowhere
Can you sell
That ancient joke

So may they leave her ashes alone
Because Yugoslavia
Can no longer go
Can go nowhere
Not even up
In smoke


This summer Hamlets are ripe and many
All across our states
Who both
Do and do not

As their to-be's
And not-to-be's
All over the place

But wherever you place the mousetrap
Either into the Ottoman court
Or into his summer Brozidence
This state of us being
Between being and not being
Can never be
Brought to an end

Because Fortinbras
Never sets foot in here
Only a merchant once in a while selling pepper,
Vinegar, bandoliers and powdered fear
Or a rain-catching bottles' manufacturer
The maker of šišinje kišinje

But Fortinbras never
Perhaps a forensic expert here and there

Simonides, King of Pentapolis

As one of the sailors in Pericles
I stood in front of St. Sophia
In the year of 1986
On the eve of it all
Following Gower
Who had risen from the grave

We survived the horrors of Antioch
Came out of the tempest alive
Only to hear
How then
Amidst the knights' tournament
In Pentapolis
For a moment
Came to a halt —
The play
The tournament
And the whole world

King of Pentapolis
Miloš Tripković
Brilliant actor
In a split second
Parted with his character
Having lost the thread
Of the narrative along with the words

And the prompter Beba
The knights and the lords
The beautiful Thaisa, the daughter of Simonides
All motioned to him in vain

But the oblivious king
Just stood there
And here I am
Nineteen years later
In front of the Church of St. Sophia searching for…
Beats me if I have a clue what I am searching for
Only to finally realize that I am looking for
That very same
Silent pause

What would have happened
Had we not tried to bring Simonides the King
At all costs
Back into the plot
Into the play
Into the text
If we had only let him stand there silent
Even for nineteen years
If need be
There in front of St. Sophia
So everything can remain in peace
The play
The actors
The audience
And all the rest

Miloš Tripković
The King of Pentapolis
In that case
Would still have been alive
And even Shakespeare and St. Sophia
Would not have let him
Die like a dog

Notes on the text

Çok seni severam – (Turkish) means “I love you a lot”, and is used as a refrain in a Macedonian folk song Snošti zaminav pominav, sung by Nina Spirova;  
Galičko –
comes from Galičko Wedding, a festivity held in Galičnik (1.600 m above the sea level on the mount of Bistra in west Macedonia) every St. Peter's Day (12 July) when a “bride” walks along the graveyard calling on the dear departed to rise and join the “wedding”;
Ljepoto –
(Croatian) means “My fair one”;  
Atanas Parahodotov –
as the poem itself suggests, Atanas is an assumed name, whereas Parahodotov is a “surname” derived from the word parahodot which in Macedonian means a “steamboat” and comes from yet another Macedonian folk song Parahodot;
Teškoto –
a type of “oro”, a loud and a heavy reel;
Širok Sokak –
the main street in the town of Bitola, Macedonia, where today a number of consulates and embassies are situated;
Milton Manaki (1882-1964)
– Macedonian cinematographer and a pioneer of what once used to be known as “Yugoslav cinematography”. His monument still stands in his native Bitola where he lived and died;  
Siljan Roda,
or Siljan “the Stork” – the hero of a Macedonian tale who left his home only to end up shipwrecked in some faraway country where he was transformed into a stork and destined to spend the rest of his life on the chimney of his house watching his family who are unable to recognize him;  
Predrag Samardžiski –
Macedonian basketball player who now plays for the Belgrade Partisan;  
Globus –
popular Croatian weekly;
Sinan Gudžević –
poet, a master of epigrams and a classical scholar, born in Grab, lives in Zagreb;    
Majstorče –
(Macedonian) means “a little master”;  
Šišinje kišinje –
word play between Macedonian “šišinje” = bottles and Croatian “kiša” = rain;

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