To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Miloš Djurdjević: Six Days in June (from “Morse, My Deaf Friend”)

Translated from the Croatian by the author                                                     

[Originally published in M. Djurdjević, Morse, My Deaf Friend, by Ugly Duckling Presse (Eastern European Poets Series #35), 2014.]


one dot, red, over there,
blinking, no, not blinking, flickering, no,
not flickering, immobile, no, not standing,
does it make a sound, could it hum,
does it hum, brim, immobile,
it’s not light, it’s not reflection,
nothing comes in, only dot,
stands in onset, standing and outgoing,
moves away, comes in, flickers inflowing in itself,
into the wind, flowing of dead air,
echo, white, always white,
like a feather on a breeze,
like a needle in a sphere it rolls,
slides, flicks, seesaws,
stumbling and rising,
drawing close to windowless panels,
it will open up, split apart,
red, like a grid,
like a passage by itself,
walls not dividing,
walls not closing in,
windows without walls,
a dome without pillars,
narrowing and dissipating,
growing into a dot and now drizzles,
from one end of this square to the other,
when I stand here the edge is not there near me,
the edge is not there with me,
here without me,
but it comes back, approaches,
and then it flickers,
for a moment, echoes,
unrolls in ribbons,
standing still,
like a line, a stroke without a sound,
blinking and it is not a dot,
no beginning,
it won’t stop,
it couldn’t stop


can I hear myself, can you hear him,
nobody speaks,
no talking,
haven’t heard them, do you listen,
they couldn’t hear them,
I forget you like a wall in front of a sound,
encircled because it will ring,
ringing after them,
it rings, it will ring behind him,
emptied out, doesn’t hear, they couldn’t hear,
doesn’t hear himself
he came over fields,
in darkness, following dusk,
tall grasses thinning out,
a hundred paces before a dike,
in front of him then,
now must be over there,
there should be an overpass,
he withdrew slowly
with dusk like before, then grows
into a chain of street lamps,
like a fence,
like a panel over grid of light,
like a moat they buried later on,
covered over to bring it deeper,
to earth again,
in earth,
without soil,
it rises now
and sinks in thick air
if you take one step forward,
and then step back,
if you shift your weight
from one leg to another,
unnoticeably, because nobody will hear,
if you look back for a moment,
if he bends and quickly rises,
he couldn’t be at the same place,
it’s not your place,
someone else would stand behind him,
are you standing behind me,
where are you


in me, to mutter,
for myself, not to say,
he didn’t say,
didn’t look,
didn’t stop, in himself,
if he hesitates now,
if he stops,
who will stop then,
in his tracks,
who was there,
to shrink into a dot,
not moving,
pull behind you,
in one stroke,
from above, always from above,
over him,
where he couldn’t look,
in himself,
without thoughts,
close down, you have to close yourself,
can’t protect yourself,
like in a sphere,
it always comes sideways,
like a look you haven’t given,
it reflects,
in itself,
it will see you,
it stares
because you couldn’t see it,
like when you feverishly wish
and have to think of something else,
whose thought forbade him
to stop then,
in himself,
you haven’t stopped,
he couldn’t stop,
and all the time something in you
must always go on,
because it won’t go there,
it couldn’t come there,
one shouldn’t be there,
won’t come back,
shouldn’t stop in his tracks,
in himself,
breaking out of him,
instantly, like a dot,
withdraws and tears him apart,
fast, faster,
when he wouldn’t look,
when he finally turns around
not to see,
it will close down,
it will fold onto him,
silently, with a bang,
noiselessly, without a sound,
it comes down,
came down beneath him,
in me

[note. Morse, My Deaf Friend is the first English-language book to be published in America by the celebrated Croatian poet Miloš Djurdjevic. In this book he presents two prose poem cycles from Umbrian Sunstroke and Other Poems, published in Croatia in 2010, & a selection of new poems, some of which will appear in the forthcoming Uninvited Guests and Debts.

Born in 1961 on the isle of Rab, Croatia, Djurdjević is the author of four books of poetry, two books of essays & literary criticism, & the editor of an anthology of contemporary Croatian poetry. His poetry, criticism, and essays are translated & widely published in literary magazines; he has attended literary festivals & seminars in Croatia & abroad. He has translated some thirty books from English (poetry, fiction, literary theory, & philosophy). Djurdjevic is the Croatian domain editor for the online literary magazine Poetry International based in Rotterdam. In 2009, he was writer in residence at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. He lives & works as a freelance writer & editor in Zagreb.]

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