ENGLISH

FLOUR IN THE SALT POT

This, my love, was once my house
They tore the house from me
leaving me a small room
with a small window
and a small door

Here, my love, I sleep standing up
I eat with my ear
listen with my mouth
when I’m rested
I sit to tire myself a little

When my eye hurts
I go to the dentist
When my head hurts
I search for a vet
when I go mad
I nip to the town hall.

I eat regularly
I keep flour in the salt pot
My breakfast is at night
In darkness my lunch and I’m careful not to get fat
I buy my dreams at the sales

Here, my love, they call death a cold
when there’s a power cut I go to the cinema
or it comes to me.

And so, my love, in this way I bloom,
stealing from nothing
to save something
to buy a curtain for the small window
to stop the impostors from seeing
how we give life to Obilic

Look my love how the birds observe you …
they see that I’m taking you, in the night,
To the Visoki Decani monastry
to show you the sun

We could have taken a short cut
but the sky is safer
And less expensive,
if we don’t arrive before morning
we’ll arrive for the liberation
You fly, my love,
when you’re tired
we’ll sit on a cloud
so you can rest a little.

When we fly towards the ground
you’ll see how small we are
my love

Look my love how the birds observe you
they see that I’m taking you, in the night,
To the Visoki Decani monastry
to show you the sun

translated by Lisa Ritchards



WHEN THE LILACS FLOWER

There’s something noble
about the winter in Belgrade
the Saturday after Christmas.
As the cold wind
Caresses the morning
like a chilly lover
On a sad spinster’s balcony,
accepting everything, even what
no one asks of him .

I walk along king Aleksander boulevard
to spend time, one on one with god.
I go to the Church of San Marco
before everyone else,
who feels the need to be there
with the communists at midday
all dressed up, their shirts new
as bullets fall from  their white gloves.

I light candles for the dead,
and the living.
If it weren’t for you
I’d be somewhere in the middle.
A candle for those who were never born,
I see you in the tiny flame
like a Russian ballerina
You rest your head on my shoulder.
I pray to you in front of god
like a monk of few words.
Don’t break my heart
in two with your silence.
From heated desire I paint a fresco.
As I am yours you will be mine
On the altar of the sun
covered with the colours of the rainbow.

Translated by Lisa Ritchards


NEW MOON OVER ZAOCISTE

Today
Mrs Jankovic
Who you don’t even know,
To make you happy
Lit a candle
For you,
In the Zociste monastery
That you have never heard of
She,
who has never met you,
from a thousand miles away
saw your smiling face
In the flames
You spoke a lot,
in a lost language,
til silence fell
Then she said:
A new moon,
was showing itself,
but it vanished instantly,
as you spoke my name.

Translated by L.Richards


 CHERRIES IN THE STUDENT’S HOUSE

You still live in the same street,
And I’m the same as before, your orchid
He who writes verses of poetry.

The sadness burning inside me keeps me company as I write.
…slowly, my dearest thoughts, fly to you,
To those times you kissed a fervent student.

In a damp room, few clothes
Where kisses flew faster than bullets
In the good company of Kant and Spinosa
Full of wishes and with little money

Maybe it’s not important
…Kafka slept under your pillow
I absorbed culture in the dark of your room
Eating cherries off your tummy

Those summer mists are still alive in me
When we wandered with Proust,
Once you made me soup from rainwater
You convinced a tram driver that even buttons breathe.
That night I had you for the first time
Vòsdovatz was like a power station
With your scream I counted the bees
I consoled the collectors of dull landscapes
….until even the bakers knew I loved you more than myself.

I write correctly with the sadness burning inside me
…slowly, my dearest thoughts, fly to you,
To those times you kissed a fervent student.

You were weekends to a young soldier on leave
Miners called your legs –dynamite-,
Postmen wanted you as an envelope for love telegrams
The graduates pricked up their ears as you passed
And knew off by heart the formulas for pyramids and cylinders
…the police wanted the stamp of your lips as confirmation of your identity
Everyone buzzed round you like mosquitoes
The elite of the last war wanted you
Your smile was a plane ticket to certain happiness
Like white hawks they envied the rocks
But, You, loved only me.

You still live in the same street,
And I’m the same as before, your orchid
He who has a gift for poetry.

And still the shadows, like fireflies, fly round you
Napoleon for me seemed like a lad then,
as a devoted monk always in your prayers,
I sent Kundera to buy us a sandwich
I carried you between my teeth, I ate you with my eyes
Candlesticks guided me in the dark,
With you I was the Nation, invaded by happiness,
I was your level crossing, indicated by a candle,
I was the Russian soldier for whom the Cecenian girl sewed
A military hat with love,
I was your roundabout and your guitar tuner,
…I consoled the fisherman who came home with empty boats

For you, with your tears larger than marbles,
I fished the drowned from the tired shop assistant’s eyes.
Your steps whimpered like the children of separated parents.
Your breasts were scented with revolutions without followers,
white eagle handlers and barbers were our guardians,
until even the cosmonauts knew I only loved you.


I write correctly with the sadness burning inside me
my dearest thought, flies slowly to you,
To those times you kissed a fervent student.

A framed epigraphy of a wished for child
Is the same as the pain of our separation
…there aren’t mourners, nor witnesses
The rainbow has flown from your eyes for the last time.

Don’t forgt me
You said
It’s stonger than us
Remember me
Life is only a blurred number
Look at the sky
Give Mummy a kiss
Take care of yourself

Love is like the crowing of dead swallows
It wasn’t to be, my dear.
As I write the address, stick on the stamp
My gaze falls on the park, on our bench, near the Sava,
Like one time I saw the blond girl
Who borrowed your smile and your star struck body
And my hands, and eyes and forehead
…as if by magic all the thoughts have disappeared in a crown of flowers
Admit it my love, you seemed as if you came from one of our books.

I write correctly with the sadness burning inside me
my dearest thought, flies to you .. slowly,
To those times you kissed a fervent student.

Translated by Lisa Richards
[This maybe be, for me, the most beautiful love letter in poetry I’ve ever read.]