Petar Matovic in translation: Poetry


Ove godine lipe kasne u cvetanju,

Ana se opet neće vratiti iz Grčke,

a sobu sam okrečio u žuto: smiruje. 

Svako jutro budim se umoran i znojav,

vreme do paljenja prve cigarete je

misao o stihu, ritmu i šibici. 

Nemam celinu. Moja utroba je kormoran

s maramom pod vratom. Dok lutam

sam sebi nisam Odisej, a ni Ahasfer. 

Svaki put obećavam, kad pred brijanje palcem

ispitujem oštricu žileta, da ću, čim budem

zadovoljan sobom, napisati pesmu. 


This year lindens bloom late

Ana won’t be back from Greece once again,

and I’ve painted my room yellow: it’s soothing. 

Each morning I awake tired and sweaty,

the time before lighting the first cigarette

is an idea of verse, rhythm and match.  

I have no totality. My insides are a cormorant

with a scarf around its neck. While I wander,

I don’t look like Ulysses to my self, nor like Ahasuerus 

Every time I examine the razor’s blade with my thumb

before I shave, I promise myself that, as soon as I’m

satisfied with myself, I’ll write a poem. 



oko moje glave oblećeš

poput slepog miša,


Miran sam. Pušim cigaretu, dim je oreol

koji presecaš svojim krilima. 

Molitvu nisam izgovorio, nju sam ti poslao

mejlom. Poput Noje sagradio sam barku,

a ona ovog puta brodi kroz arhipelag Internet.

Usput sakupljam samo device mudre i lude,

iščekujući da se sa neba katodne cevi oglasi:

                                     system failed. 

A kad se umorim od kormilarenja, nadomak cilja,

svojim šišmiš krilima nateraš dim duvana

u bestežinsku poruku: reset! 


Once again

you fly around my head

like a bat,

My Lord. 

I’m calm. I smoke a cigarette, the smoke is a halo

you cut through with your wings. 

I didn’t say my prayer, I emailed it

to you. I’ve built my arc, like Noah,

and this time it sails through archipelago Internet.

Along the way, I pick up only virgins silly and wise,

expecting to hear the words from the cathode-ray tube:

                                     system failed. 

And when I get tired of navigating, within reach of my goal

with your bat wings you buffet the tobacco smoke

into a weightless message: reset! 


I live on the Balkans, govorim turistima iz Evropske unije,

I write poetry, objašnjavam čime se bavim;

klimaju glavom sa odobravanjem penzioneri

iz Folksvagenovog pogona u Volfsburgu:

Ne sumnjam – poezija Balkana je egzotična destinacija

zapadnoevropskih turista. 

Vetar diže rub suknje jedne preplanule Nemice,

dame u godinama sa etno đerdanima,

slušam tvrde glasove što izgovore imena zemalja

čije jezike ne smem više da razumem:

Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegowina, Serbia. 

A primetna je obnova monarhije:

U cvetanju jorgovana serbijanskih varoši

feudalizam neoprostivo stiže ovog proleća. 

Tešim se kako trgovina ide,

kako ide piraterija diskova, kozmetički proizvodi...

U centru ovog malog grada na jugu države

ubeđuju me da je preko granice istok,

a sve je u mešanju slogova čajniz, ciganjskih

i serbijanskih. 

Sunce je u lavi zapada naglo zašlo preko moje usne,

grizem je od svraba, skupljam robu,

odlazim sa trga ne okrećući se... Iza mene

praska, žubori, glagolje stranci i domoroci.

A ima li rešenja sem ljubavi za Balkan,

oficijelnu deponiju Evrope. 


I live on the Balkans, I say to the tourists from the European Union

I write poetry, I explain what I do;

the retirees from the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg

nod in approval:

Without a doubt – the poetry of the Balkans is an exotic destination

For tourists from Western Europe. 

The wind plays with a hem of the skirt of a tanned German woman

past her prime, with ethno-necklaces,

I listen to their harsh voices speaking the names of countries

whose languages I’m no longer allowed to understand:

Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia. 

And the renewal of the monarchy is also noticeable:

in lilacs blooming in small Serbian towns

feudalism unpardonably arrives this spring. 

I comfort myself with the thought that trade flourishes,

With the sale of pirate CDs and cosmetic products…

In the centre of this small southern town

they are trying to convince me that East is across the border,

and it’s all in the mixture of syllables: Chinese, Gipsy

and Serbian. 

Sun in the lava of the West suddenly set over my lip,

I bite it because it itches, I gather my goods

and leave the square, not turning around… Behind me

bursts, gurgles, ripples of foreigners and natives.

And is there any other solution but Lovefor the Balkans,

the official junkyard of Europe. 


Ovde se ništa ne pokreće. Tako naiđe vetar

i sve ostane tiho. Možeš da posadiš

petunije, ali se one nikad neće zatalasati

pod frenetičnim zujem pčela u leto. List lipe

ne damara na vazduhu. Tek kao fotografija

ostane, beživotni kip. 

Slušaj: ćutnja se širi kao kancer, a ti pronađi

lepotu u tome. I to nije košmar: to je svuda.  


Here nothing moves. The wind comes along

and everything stays quiet. You can plant

your petunias, but they’ll never wave

under the frenetic buzz of the bees in the summer. Linden leafs

don’t shimmer in the air. Like in a photograph,

they stay still, like a lifeless statue. 

Listen: Silence spreads like cancer, you can find

beauty in that. And this is not a nightmare: it’s all around. 


Vidim sebe kao putnicu, sa crvenim koferima

u crno-belom filmu, govorila je postarija devojka

koja već decenijama ne izlazi iz svog stana. 

Moje lice biva uznemireno peškirima motelske higijene,

gnojne bubuljice pojave se baš u prepunim kupeima

kad se ne bih libila biti plen mladih jastrebova. 

Osluškujem melodiju njene naracije sedeći spram okna

koje osmatra napuštenu železničku stanicu preko puta:

Vagoni izvaljeni poput gmizavaca kraj mrtvih koloseka. 

Gaseći žar-pticu ronhila u boci julskog piva, u trenu

setim se, a ni sam ne znajući što, kafanske floskule:

do prestanka nevinosti, žene su doista genijalna bića . 


I see myself as a traveler, with red suitcases

in a black-and-white movie, said a girl past her prime

who hadn’t left her apartment in years. 

My face gets upset by the towels of motel hygiene,

pussy zits appear in the crowded compartments

when I wouldn’t hesitate to fall pray to the young hawks. 

I listen to the melody of her narrative, sitting by the window

overlooking the deserted railway station across the way:

carriages sprawling like reptiles by the dead platforms. 

Putting out the Ronhill phoenix in a bottle of July beer, in a flash

I remember, not knowing why myself, that old tavern saying:

before they lose virginity, women are indeed ingenious beings.  

Translation by Vesna Stamenković


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