Zaza Koshkadze in translation: poetry

midnight dance for cancer

it’s midnight sister
mama has cancer
and it’s time to go out on the street
to show some drunken men
that life’s a blessing
it’s time to let them see us
in the moonlight
those sad and lonely customers
mama needs chemo
and a few fake smiles
she’s dying sister
now we’re going to head out on the street
to sing a dirty song or two
to mama’s metastasis
and dance forbidden dances
to mama’s endless pain
to bring some money in
mama needs some bread
and a handful of pills
made of snow white shark bones
oh and a glass of water
to wash the taste away
dress up sister
dress up like a whore
and stop your sobbing
mama’s watching us


it could be just endorphins
making your body dance in front of me

or it could be exactly that cosmic energy
mentioned so often by jobless lovers
explored in your thin and transparent body

just think of it

just think how much I know about you
when you're smiling and looking at me

you're like a porn actress
posing for the camera
for the very first time

sour liquid seeps
between your legs
like melting ice-cream

I know what your body says
you should be mine
right now

but I can't invite you to a cinema
then to a bar
and then

bring you to the home
I've never had

sparrows under my skin

stop! don't kiss me!

my skin is mined with your sins
your tongue sharpened on a stranger's neck
lacerates my heart

stop! don't touch me!

High voltage under my skin,
will turn you to ashes like paper
and the slightest breeze will sweep you away

there's danger under my skin
sparrows no longer sit
on veins stretched like wires

stop! Don’t cty!

Who would’ve thought

you drink my beer my coffee
my blood
my cocktail with the fancy name rain and wind

who would've thought it some thirty-five million years ago
when the plesiosaurs were still cold

you drink my silhouette
like a drop of sadness dissolved in water

you drink my nights and daydream picturing me
infected by my visions

you sip my beer and your eyes
become the mud puddles I drink

who would've thought it yesterday
when we absorbed each other
to the last molecule


everyone who listens to you
everyone who caresses you in dreams
everyone who reads love poems to you
everyone who gets you drunk to fuck you afterwards
everyone who fondles you in hallways
everyone who stares at your ass
everyone who follows you home at night
everyone who spies on you when you shave your legs
everyone who fights his own loneliness through you
everyone who promises not to hurt you and to be gentle to you
everyone who protects you from drunken strangers
everyone who leaves flowers at your door
everyone who jumps off a bridge because of you
everyone who fucks you in an attic and then can't forget you
everyone who sings all kinds of crap at your window
everyone who spoils you with cunnilingus for hours
everyone who stares at you standing by the fireplace in underwear and socks
holding a bottle of champagne
everyone who offers to take you away from this tiresome routine
everyone who tells you his own sad story
everyone who gets infected by you ...
and me – the one who takes you to the darkest woods quietly humming
to bury you and to forget you


Two eyes are enough,
Not to be able to see anything around you,
And if you have two healthy eyes
You can still say that you are blind,
Or close them and
Never open them again
And walk with outstretched hands under the sun
So you won’t see
That you are not the only one,
That people love, look and live
With closed eyes,
They close their eyes when
They should see and with closed eyes,
They watch TV,
They go to movies with closed eyes
And take decisions with eyes closed,
They fight and eat and marry with closed eyes.
And only then when they sleep or kiss or die,
Only then when they should close them, they open their eyes

And sleep



Translations by Zaza Khoskadze, Ana Janelidze , Richard Gwyn, Tom Pow and Lela akiashvili


'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.