Jasmina Topić in translation
We were quiet. Just like those tiny skinny birds
unaware of this world.
We are still morose.
My body always dehydrates slightly next to yours.
Your body is soft and I squeeze
from it the holy water of my shortcomings.
The water that I always lack.
Soap bubbles and detergent bubbles,
two products from the same department, that’s
what we achieved straining to attain the ideal.
We fly around this flat like the feathers
of plucked pigeons ready to be made into a good soup.
Everyone sitting at his or her computer,
achieves his or her objectives in video games. I’ve reached the next level.
We are negotiating on Second life.
The loser gets to take broken fragments
to the great city dump.
I know that when all’s said and done we’ll become even quieter.
The dent in the bed grows like any suburb.
We did not move into that flat.
It’s getting warmer and summer will be upon us soon.
We never lived except when reading
I got lost in the space of a book,
the words of a poem in an unknown language followed me,
warm Mediterranean ethnic music, like joint
stays on islands where joy is always to be renewed.
Two spaces edged by shadows and music
annulled me; they brought me down to the level
of a line not drawn,
at the bottom of a sheet, outside the footnote.
Where belonging was dying out
the passion for writing emerged, for one
of the possible worlds washed out by salt
like a misprint.
And the space of the book changed our facial
form, gave us a purpose. And I was. –
Truly attached to verses, to pictures
the way I was to a shoulder of bygone times,
dreaming of northern seas so lively,
from those letters arranged into verses.
I listened, waiting for gold bugs
to start milling across my skin, trembling. I resided
under polar light, within arm’s reach of the otherness
of another, real life...
But we never lived except when reading, sizing up
that which preceded and followed the writing while your eyes,
tiny nutshells on the line of the imaginary,
were both the sea and insomnia.
Now I slide slowly by the glacier whose names
and purpose I do not recognise.
And as if in a deep, deepest dream under ice floes,
occasional voices call out to me from the light
in which it is no longer possible to reside.
This morning, from dawn till dusk.
Rejoice over that which remains hidden behind the window:
a window by day and a mirror by night,
and a reflection of your aura
at a moment when you’re the blank
cartridge of a fired bullet
past / future / present
Enticing sounds of tim-pam boom-bam
The fourth step of character
residing in the childlike voice of the enemy
with no choice
Fluttering hummingbirds hopping on
the rarefied darkness and tiny light
Sticky, soft in its heart
like an unbaked cake
good Barbie, sit... siiit...
You move the weak body into the carapace
The image is not the same as the structure reflected
on a midnight window
The burden of small things.
Rejoice when entering your time
and a hidden place that you don’t know
For it can be so very yours,
so insatiably yours.
all my experiences
go straight into literature
Experiences from the figurative sack
go straight into poetry
Even in boring rain, which is dreadful generally speaking,
one can write –
This small effort aimed at using paper,
warming up your fingers
playing chess or solitaire with boredom,
and with creative pennilessness
rashness, adrenalin (in that order?!)
watching a sporting event
heated-up nationalism stew
a poem is now a guerrilla fighter
I push the cart, empty, of course
I play a game that could also be animated
for future youth
there’s singing left in front of the door
an ordeal involving experience
on account of a flat where you won’t be able to move in
because you’re broke
Then you switch off the music
the monotonous rhythm of ambiental chaos
and tiny, tiny, even tinier, like
rice for the poor –
The rain is the only constant experience
that is to become a literary one.
I don't sleep all night
Out of sheer discontent. I think of how a city
Overflowing with possibilities is constantly narrowing.
A little before that, before that dusk,
A granny walks with sticks, only she’s no skier
And it won’t be snowing anytime soon. It’s Sunday and there’s no clamour.
That’s why the night’s ideal for not sleeping.
And as it unfolds... I don’t even have a clock
To tick away discontent or count sheep.
I smile in the dead of night so that
No one gets to hear it, then I pause for a moment, to inhale and exhale.
Is that someone rattling up the spiral staircase
and isn’t he in the mezzanine already!
I feel pure physical pleasure when the cushions of my fingers
Touch the keyboard of my projected insomnia.
When I am entirely enveloped in the pure new wool of fleeced sheep,
Photographs crop us, a face in lime, clay or dust,
I can’t make them out very well.
Then, like a miracle, blood flows out of the forefinger of its own accord
and the veins in the neck
swell like French beans in a green envelope. A moment of liveliness.
I say aloud to dispel what’s left: We are real!
Out of sheer discontent.
Translation from Sebian into English
by Novica Petrović
'I like to use the languages of the various arts – literature, music, theatre...I think that is the spirit of the modern global era.'- poet Ivan Hristov spoke to SJ Fowler of 3AM magazine about the evolution of the contemporary Bulgarian poetry scene.
Cosmin Borza discusses the work of Romania's 'Generation 2000' poets, including Radu Vancu and Claudiu Komartin in an essay at Asymptote.
At the Sofia Poetics festival, which was organised by Word Express participant Ivan Hristov, Scottish based poet Ryan Van Winkle caught up with fellow festival guests SJ Fowler and Tomasz Rózycki. To hear Fowler and Rózycki discussing their work and reading some of their poetry, listen to the Scottish Poetry Library podcast here.