The editor would like to thank Tom Phillips for sourcing the work in this supplement of Macedonian poetry. Tom, in turn, would like to acknowledge that he has received enormous help from Daniela Andonovska-Trajkovska and Borce Panov, who selected, collected and curated more than half of the translations published here. My thanks to all of them.
Tom Phillips is a poet, playwright, translator and lecturer currently living and work in Sofia, Bulgaria. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, anthologies, pamphlets and the full-length collections Unknown Translations (Scalino, 2016), Recreation Ground (TRP, 2012) and Burning Omaha (Firewater, 2003) and has been translated into more than half-a-dozen languages. Since moving to Bulgaria, he has translated and published a wide range of contemporary Bulgarian poetry and read his own work at festivals and literary events across the Balkan peninsula. Three pamphlets of recent poetry can be downloaded from his blog: http://recreationground.blogspot.com/
Macedonia is a name that may need some elucidation for many readers. It is (1) the name of an ancient Greek Kingdom, most famous for producing Alexander the Great. (2) It is also the name of a geographic region spanning three administrative divisions of northern Greece. (3) More widely, it denotes a geographic and historical region that today includes parts of six Balkan countries.
The poets included in this supplement are all from The Republic of North Macedonia, which gained its independence in 1991 as one of the successor states of Yugoslavia. Further information will be found by following the link. Although In the ancient world the ‘Macedonians’ spoke a dialect of Ancient Greek and, under Alexander the Great, spread Hellenic culture throughout much of the then known world, modern-day Macedonian is a slavic language which is closely related to Bulgarian, Serbian and Croatian.
Daniela Andonovska-Trajkovska • Borce Panov • Dragi Mihajlovski • Vesna Mundishevska-Veljanovska • Silvana Neshkovska • Elizabeta Bakovska • Ana Lazarova Nikovska • Aleksander Mitovski
THW19: September 19, 2020
Daniela Andonovska-Trajkovska: Five poems translated by the author
LIVING ON A FLAT LINE
there are many people living on a flat line for a life time
they get up at 6 a.m.
with salty dots in the eyes
go to work at 7:30
with inscribed angles in their thoughts
at 10:30 they drink coffee
– the eye on the wall counts their degrees
at 4 p.m. they return home
– on a step closer to the zero
at 5 p.m. they play ping pong
on the kitchen table
– the game multiplies in the mirror
and the words fall down under the fraction bar
at 6 p.m. they hide the leftovers of their fractured thoughts
at 8 p.m. they cry for the lost day and
they promise to themselves that starting from tomorrow
they will breathe in more than two dimensions
at 10 p.m. they fall asleep on the X-axis in front of the TV
at 3 a.m. they move to the bedroom
so they can stretch the line
from one point to another
from one segment to another
there are many people
that don’t know that they have been living on a line
for a life time
I wonder how long we could live
without the electronic lungs
on which we are stuck with a body that it is not ours
– quadriplegics with infrared light in our head
without the vacuum cleaner with which we collect
the spider web in the corners of our consciousness that it is not allowed
to go out without face powder
without the bulb that we bow to
as if it was God of the Sun
without the bread making machine
that feeds us with gluten and additives with E-215 code
because it can’t hit the table with the dough
to soften the stone heart of humanity
so that we could understand that this is the only way
to capture the air as an additive of ancient times
without which we are nobody and nothing
without the megapixels with which we see the world
and without which we are blind
without Wi-Fi that enables us to speak
all the languages at the same time
and with which we are knowledgeable, but not wise,
famous faces that live in a can
how long could we live without
the flow of electronic blood
in our facial blood vessels
without the chipped democracy
that carries us in its pocket constantly
so that it could call us in necessity
to set itself free
we don’t cut the cuticles
that leave their heads in our electrified desires
as ticks do
we don’t even trim the nails
to have them under control behind the bars
of the computer keyboard
we don’t even file them to protect ourselves from scratching
while we write down the passwords
with which we enter
the three gates of our single cell
in which we are keeping our freedom so passionately
just for ourselves
we are alone – in between the automatic electronic messages
whose endings are all the same
and the life that keeps failing to begin
NAMELESS LEG OF THE TRIANGLE
I’ve always been afraid of the side opposite me
that is threatening me with the square
It doesn’t allow me to see outside the house
with angled body
my thoughts are living in separate rooms there
and they are cautious not to meet each other in the halls
when at night they get up to check
whether the door is closed
or whether the windows of the other rooms are foggy
I’ve always been afraid of the plane
that sees me in two dimensions
with the eyes of other people’s lives
of the walls of the soul I am afraid
of the line of the set in which the word becomes
just a regular object
among the other objects
I’ve always been afraid of the triangle
in which all my angles are plotting against me
all people know what the coordinates that I live in are
and what full stops my initials are leaning on
I write my Identification Number on
a payment slip
when I return what was taken from me
And in my health care card I reveal it
when with my consent they extract blood from my words
so they could see whether my leukocytes are all there
I keep it in the bank as well
in front of the eyes of the usurers
so they could see that I have nothing but that number
The postman stops at number 47
and returns the stray words
in the mail box of forgetting.
My friend visits me once a month
to read how many light bulbs
were on in vain last night
My telephone number is made public
on the web page that gives my salary.
My date of birth is impressed on my fingers
and inputs itself
in the empty slots
of electronic bureaucracy
The traffic officer knows exactly
when I am about to go through the city centre
when I am commuting to work
and he always pulls me over
to reprimand me
for entering curves speedily and recklessly
to commend me for following coordinates astutely
but for which – I wouldn’t survive
and then I recall that my hand
had drawn all the lines of the pedestrian crossings
all of the triangles with exclamation marks
and all of the Stop signs at the entrance of main streets
and I go on… moving along on the same coordinates
in foreign systems, with my rules, but I survive
because my life lives in a dream without coordinates
in which I am being born over and over again
Daniela Andonovska-Trajkovska (b.1979) is a professor in the Faculty of Education at St Kliment Ohridski University in Bitola and is editor-in-chief of the literary journal Rast and an editor of the international journals Contemporary Dialogues and Literary Elements. She has published one book of prose and eight poetry collections, including Electronic Blood (2019) and Math Poetry (2020), as well as a university text book, and has co-authored a poetry book for children. In 2019 she received the Karamаnov National Poetry Prize.
Borce Panov: Five poems translated by Daniela Andonovska-Trajkovska
WITH THE WHOLE TIME I SPEAK TO YOU
There is a time when I grow distant from everything,
when after the deepest sigh
I expect you to show up from nowhere,
and I try
to pull out a moment with only one word,
to ask the moment to pull out an hour for me,
the hour – a day,
the day – a day from tomorrow and the day after tomorrow
all days – whole time,
and I wonder
will you ever feel the whole time
with which I am talking to you
while you are standing timeless –
with one of your palms blossoming
like the most tender flower
on the cactus of my patience –
and with a handkerchief full of goodbyes
in the other one,
so you could live everywhere with my distances,
some place where our souls
are comforting each other
in their unbreakable balance
and reconciliation in only one word,
with which we become timeless,
a word in which to believe
is the same as to love.
THE WHITE MOUSE OF THE TRUTH
When I was a little boy,
and my mother was taking me to the bazaar,
by the old house at the end of the cobblestone street,
a blind man was standing
with a wooden box with two compartments in his hands.
There was a white mouse in one,
and leaves of fortunes – in the other.
My mother was buying goods starting from there
and from that fortune teller she was purchasing our fortunes.
The mouse would start sniffing our life line on our palms,
and then it would bite the leaf.
Speaking of the fortune, illiterate as I was,
my mother used to read it to me aloud,
although she kept silent sometimes, and I couldn’t tell why.
And I learned to read, early,
so I could read my fortune all by myself
even when it was not supposed to be read or told,
and when I became literate, I realized, in time,
that each word is a compartment of a labyrinth
from which you can get out only if you can read aloud to someone
from whom you would rather hide the white mouse of the truth.
We have been raised by altar bread.
Our childhood was grapevines for us
on which the young wine was ripening on our sky.
We grew up in a time
when we could buy fresh chickpea bread
or we could visit the ivied summer cinema at night
We watched Tornatore’s movies
and we were kids with the kids from the movie.
We didn’t know what fascism is,
we thought communism will last forever,
and we loved to play mobsters.
Our most favourite scene of all
was when we were staffing the fat Ollie’s mouth
with hunks of white socialist bread,
and he wasn’t complaining about it, because he was always hungry.
On the summer provincial movie screen,
America was Marilyn Monroe for us –
Marilyn Monroe rising up into the Statue of Liberty.
Under the wind of her little dress,
she was revealing to us the colonisation,
Mad Horse, Sitting Bull as he is acting himself
and swearing in the circus that rises up to her panties
in which there is no place
for the children of Cheyenne raised by their mothers
so they could be killed as little shooting targets in the air.
There wasn’t a place for the civil war, too,
nor for the prohibition, and
the gangsters with automats,
but there was a place for Chaplin’s toothbrush moustaches
and his two fingers with which
he blocks his ears
to prevent the lion from awakening,
for Buster Keaton’s frozen face
and the house that spins the storm,
and he can’t get through the door in any way,
and for Orson Welles’ Martians
with which he performed radio invasion
with the same fear as the fear of Cold War.
There is no place in Monroe’s panties
for the helicopters’ Flight of the Bumblebee in the
apocalypse of napalm,
nor for the underground hаngаrs with intercontinental rockets,
but there is a place for the Jedis from Star Wars
that hold the torch of liberty with their thoughts
in the middle of the darkness of the universe.
We have been raised by altar bread,
we have become democrats, too,
and we have spent nine cat lives
so we could survive,
but no one wants to remember the death between them.
I was left only with the memories
when my grandfather Carlo, the emigrant,
returned from America with a black limousine
and a blond girl,
Marilyn Monroe he said she was,
and we were just kids,
so we believed him without any questioning,
because we recognized her for her panties
when we stumbled on purpose and fell under her little dress.
I was thinking that between the gravity and the weightless darkness
the Earth is like an onion overpopulated with blue skies
and tear-inducing scale and fleshy leaves
when we commit a sin to God
one night over the amphitheatric city
I remembered the young Jesus climbed on the wooden stairs
and when his father asked him what he was doing up there
he said that he wanted to climb up to his own father
and then I thought that we don’t build the longest stairs
to be on the highest place above all else, but to be able
to go down from the highest point to all of our fathers
and then I knew that the purest tears are getting burned on the Sun
under the layers of the most beautiful golden skies
and that we unearth the white words of our underground apples
with the help of life which is as sharp as onion taste
A ROOM OF MY TIME ZONES
my room is stamping stamping
because she can’t sleep
because she has changed many time zones
far away from home,
she is stamping stamping – compressing soil under the foundations
in order to build herself a house
in order to escape from the windows
to run with the trees and the rain
to go to the circus, to go hand in hand with George, the dwarf
to spin and to trek the grey merry-go-round of the world
to catch the flying trapeze
to make salto mortale and to survive from its own fear
that she will miss the airplane of his dream
that another cataclysm will not happen again
or that she could be recruited in a senseless war
or that someone we love will die
she is stamping stamping
and compressing the prayer in the foundation of the conviction
that everything will be as it should be
that we will breathe clean air
that there will not be a politician who will ruin her dreams
that she will not be paralyzed after taking a vaccine
my room is panting panting
in order to bear all the nightmares of the street
the street with a bulging vein cracked by heroin
and with the eye apples that kill high school children
with such an ease as in a computer game
or a cartoon with the Road Runner – that mad street
my room is stamping stamping
panting panting because she can’t sleep
she hopes she hopes
that she will not die in a retirement home
inhabited with cockroaches that even in daytime bustle the gloom of the night
my room is running running
from a time zone to another
at a place in which the evil that had happened, had not happened yet
my room is panting panting
and is compressing all good time
in the foundations of the world of tomorrow
and she prays for the moment
that had already happened somewhere never to happen again
Borce Panov (b.1961) has been a member of the Macedonian Writers’ Association since 1998 and has published 11 collections of poetry, the most recent of which was 2018’s Shell. His work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. He works as a counsellor for culture and education in the municipality of Radovish and coordinates the annual International Karamonov Poetry Festival in the town.
Rade Siljan: Five poems translated by Dragi Mihajlovski
IF FATHER HAD BEEN ALIVE
If father had been alive
Each morning he would have celebrated the birth
Of the day
And with tender words
He would have welcomed us into the old house
If father had been alive
He would have stroked our gray-haired heads
And we would have sung songs about the beauty
And the rainy spring in our homeland
If father had been alive
He would have blessed the light every morning
In order not to have extinguished the fireplace
Of our famous ancestors
If father had been alive
Before the sunset
He would have held in his hands beads
So as not to forget his descendants
If father had been alive
He would have celebrated his hundredth year today
And we would have rejoiced
In our childhood memories
Life weighs heavily
Is narrowed from many sides
In the mirror of destiny
Another man hides
Before closed doors
An exhausted dog is whining
God has a long hand
He aims firmly at the heart
With a word and sorrow
You pray with the eyes of a lonely old man
And you realize that life is a thief
Of the sound clock
In your chest
You will welcome guests
With bloody hands
Executors from a warlike tribe
Will take away the spoils
All the mouths will eat up
The last bite
And on the long road
Without beginning and without an end
They will sing
Your swan song
In a dark and endless night
Will dream of wise heads
And unloved women
Will fall on their knees
Praying for forgiveness
For their vital youth
A SKETCH FOR THE PORTRAIT
OF THE MAN OF OUR TIME
By daylight he visits monasteries and churches
By night he speaks to angels and saints
He hugs the snowy mountains
And their unreachable peaks
He stops upright
With a mace in his hands
Leaving a sign on the blue sky
For the generations to come
In the clear river
Clearer than tears
He washes the faces
Of our mothers
In promised thoughts
He hides the scars of a sick tribe
In a dark prison he stays awake
And sings sad songs about lost battles
A SECRET VOICE
In a forest of dogs
A blind child weeps
An image of silence
Circles in the air
A nameless sufferer
Prays for forgiveness
In a forest of dogs
One hears the voice of an owl
Within a wall of skulls
Hides the key to the secrets
Rade Siljan (b.1950) is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Matica Makedonska publishing house in Skopje. He has published more than 20 collections, including 2017’s The Mouth of Reality and 2015’s Prayer for Macedonia, as well as editing more than a dozen anthologies of Macedonian literature. He has been Macedonia’s highest awards, the 11 October and St Kliment Ohridski awards, for his contribution to culture.
Vesna Mundishevska-Veljanovska: Five poems translated by the author
Dreaming of wonderful things
nowadays is something that defeats
and every cheerful return to the past
creeps in with sadness.
The crushed shadows in the cracks
of the collapsed joints of the memories
become an enigma
for the future historians of lost souls.
The gag is stigmatized
in a distorted rebus,
the world bleeds on a broken globe,
the perspective’s calendar anti-dates itself.
In the whirlwinds of the gaped void
the apocalypse of the ideas
hibernates in its anti-horoscope.
On The bone plaTe
from The scales of The Thoracic cage
I bury my fingerTips
in The breaThing’s proTecTor.
I massage The cloTTed sTiffness
wiTh circular movemenTs
unTil The circle of The relief
plaTelike lengThens iTself
and obTains iTs place
arTiculating wiTh The carTilage of The ribs
as a neckTie wiTh a loose Tie.
The sTreTched heaviness weighs like a weighT
Tending To be
The cenTer of mass
The graviTy Towards sTabiliTy
when on The upper floor
of The body’s elevaTor
will geT sTuck The sip and The swallow,
when The elecTric charges
of The inTenTion and The acTion
will conTacT wiTh incandescenT roar,
when The surprise will surprise iTself The besT,
T becomes Toponym
for The cenTer of The world
compressed beTween The fences
of The inhalaTion and The exhalaTion
anchored in The hearT of The chesT.
Nobody is to blame but us
for the fact that we withhold
the small-town behaviour
of the small towners
who wear it proudly
like a jewel on their chests.
Nobody is to blame but us
for the fact that we ignore
in the facades
of the narrow-chested’s faces
which cover their nudity
with a blanket of spectral hues.
of the accelerated purulence of the spirit
the walls of irony.
In the glasshouse
of the inverted existence hourglass
it is the safest
to rely on ourselves.
We are like a pebble
thrown into the water
from the melted snows
from the pyramid of the generations.
Like a stack of concentric circles
we slide on the boundary stone
of the multiplications
of the centuries –
circle to circle,
next to each other,
one after another,
in one other,
that washes away the smog
from the shores of the stomach
with the freshness
of the forgotten enjoyment
of the moment.
In the tree crown
from the island of the yard
rooted in the back
of the turtle of timelessness,
the empty space of the shadow man
grows like a soap bubble
that enters the marrow
on someone else’s border
to peek inside the parallellity
or to burst into meaninglessness.
Once again some pebbles wave
the water’s surface
under the volcano of the soul.
And maybe now,
in the recurrence
of some linear infinity,
my grandmother with the iron tong
kindles the brazier of Space.
And maybe now,
in some parallel future,
my grandchildren at the same time
prepare the quince jam
that I make following my mother’s recipe,
which she’s got from her mother,
while I grate my thoughts
with a nostalgic taste of a sweet bliss
that floats on the air like a crystal aura
around the icon of the memories.
with my colleagues and friends
we play frisbee.
For someone it is a food
for his frustration,
for another – inspiring relaxation.
curses and rudeness,
someone – virtues and happiness.
to someone is an obligation,
to another one – a challenging inspiration.
A painting-pick of someone’s character
or someone’s disguised
A child grabbed it
and tightened it under its arm.
Let it go…
A small rest
will do us no harm.
Vesna Mundishevska-Veljanovska (b. 1973) is the author of 13 books of poetry, a book of critical essays, co-author of a book of poems for children and co-author of six vocational books for teachers. She has won numerous awards for her poetry, including the Karamanov award for best unpublished collection and the best poem award at the Struga Literary Encounters festival. She is on the editorial board of a number of literary journals and has editor more than 30 poetry books and collections.
Radovan Pavlovski: Five poems translated by Silvana Neshkovska
THE PLACE WHERE YOU SLEEP
May the head of your bed
be as firm as your palm.
May your dream be as hearty
as the sky is after frost.
Speak and dream with the universe
as you would with a child or a flower
in the yard.
The place where you sleep
is a factory of dreams and the reality.
Do not dump poison
at the place where you sleep.
Let all thoughts fly away in the space.
THE ROAD YOU TAKE
The road you take
doesn’t have to be smooth.
Find a road on your own
Just as you find a word
for your thought
for your own body.
With beauty and touch
turn the willow’s branches
in the opposite direction
to make it more joyful.
THE KEY’S FIREPLACE
You are the one who knows
the errors of time and
You don’t leave home
At one corner – water
At another – fire
A word or two on the roofs
On a tiny bed
next to my heart I keep vigil
defending my love
from evil spirits.
Everyone will come to me
I have to become wider
than the earth and the sky
Imprisoned forces keep
kicking me inside
invaders keep assaulting me on the outside
when I multiply
no one can count me
I am alone and single
of the living and the dead.
The trunk is ashes, the root – faraway water
The leaf – shivering, and you are only
a hung skin, a drum of time.
The soul, it seems to me, rests in the air,
a sifter of transience,
a clear day, a clear night, a clear fire.
Come on, let your underground lake
thunder inside me
You are a cure, an illusion
An eye of a fish in dry air
A door of time – the blossom
hell above hell.
Radovan Pavlovski (b.1937) published his first book of poetry, Drought, wedding and moving in 1961 and his most recent Eternity is Happening in 2014. He has received many literary awards, both in Macedonia and abroad, and his poems have been translated and published in more than 50 languages around the world. He is a member of the Macedonian Academy of Science and Arts, the Macedonian Writers’ Association and the Macedonian PEN Centre.
Jovica Ivanovski: Three poems translated by Elizabeta Bakovska
ADVICE TO YOURSELF
Look for yourself in the others,
describe the places
you’ve never been to.
What you don’t know is what
you should write about.
To those that you don’t know
you should dedicate your book.
The everyday, mock it
every single day.
‘cause you are a cliché.
Escape the normal things
(although here and now,
it’s all upside-down).
Draw your future
and immediately cross it over.
Convince yourself that you’re not all there
until the mad ones deny this.
Write something original,
something others wrote centuries ago.
Don’t give up the quest
for things that don’t exist.
Look for yourself in the others so
you understand you’re not like them,
but also that you’re not
that much different.
I DO NOT PAINT,
I MAKE LOVE TO THE CANVAS
The beret and the overalls are artistic
uniforms of other times.
I paint naked, butt naked.
I’m covered with paint stains.
Multicoloured, many coloured, like the peacock
that boasts on the canvas.
A drop fell on my dick
I have a hard on ’cause
I get it when I paint.
The trout and the bottle of red wine
will not end as a still life –
I’ll drink the wine and I’ll let the fish
swim at the bottom of the painting,
Immediately under my loved one’s fish
she poses even when she’s not here.
I see her put on her make-up in the taxi
when she opens the door,
She enters the painting like
entering a tub of hot fragrant water,
she waits for me to rub her back
with my painting brush.
NO MEASURE AT ALL
Time devoured us completely.
The appetite it has!
Probably a good metabolism,
otherwise it would weigh more than hundred kilos.
It hasn’t stopped chewing
and it wants a taste of everything –
it reminds me of a friend of mine.
Not picky at all, ravenous,
all smeared – its mouth dripping,
wiping it off with anything.
It will gobble us all,
and then give a big burp
like Gento after
thirty pieces of little sausage.
Jovica Ivanovski was born in Skopje in 1961. He is the author of 15 books of poetry and several selections in both the Macedonian and English languages. He has also appeared in numerous anthologies and his work has been translated into 15 languages. He is the winner of the Brothers Miladinov Award at Struga Poetry Evenings for his book The Human. He currently lives and works in Skopje.
Zvonko Taneski: Three poems translated by Ana Lazarova Nikovska
END OF THE SECRET
I am Macedonian folklore lover
Over there one awaits – even to the grave.
I will wait for you 100 years
And each day shall be June
And you shall watch out
The others will fall asleep
Ahead of us
So that you can tell me
About your own sons, and I you about my daughters
And about the two Persian cats with big furry tails
I will wait for you 100 years,
But not any longer than that.
MAKING LOVE AFTER A DRUNKEN NIGHT
We’ll be brushing our teeth early on
And we’ll be standing long before the mirror with foam in our mouth
We’ll taste our own embarrassment
You will merely ask me early on where you have put your watch
And I’ll ask you
To turn on the radio, speaker of the morning news
That will inform us about the thousands of students
That had left home for the holiday
And tactically she’ll say nothing about our last night in the modern boarding school
Early on we’ll feel
Very abandoned and we’ll come outside
To the noisy streets
Searching through our pockets
While we seek out the lost time
And the valid passenger ticket
The wind will blow empty-handed
As an unemployed postman
And joyfully will blow away
A crinkled card with hastily written unnecessary address
And so it will be so uncomfortable
To split apart from you
And to rely on
The cold window
In the bus
And to keep silent
Nonetheless we talk a lot now
All sorts of confessions are passing through our throats
As easy as drinking cups,
So that our words can be perfectly
And we’ll fly somewhere
With no sense that
From here we’re creating the new man
Before I read the poem at the festival they warned me that
Here one can become a star. In no doubt, post festum.
Several performances, I thought, so that one can create even a sky,
Adorned with stars. Constellation that shimmers.
That’s right: applause from the audience will carry you away,
It will inspire you (expression of time, right?!)
It will raise you up to the pedestal. Then you’ll charge tickets with consumption
(Or wine tasting) in your sky.
It wouldn’t be just whatever event for the others,
You’ll become a privileged individual with mystic character.
Suspicious one for the higher authorities, one of the chosen few.
Because even the sky (honestly) is a mystery,
Unprecedented miracle. Quick escape, filled with risks.
Returning to the stage of our acne.
Before leaving the sky you’ll return the ticket to the smile.
Revenge lies at the bottom of the wine glass – tit for tat.
Zvonko Taneski (b. 1980) is a Macedonian poet, literary critic, translator and university professor, living and working in Slovakia. The author of six books of poetry: Opened doors (1995, Kuboa), The Choir of Rotten Leaves (2000, Matica Makedonska), The Ridge (2003, Magor), Chocolate in portfolio (2010, Blesok), Necking without warranty card (2012, Kočo Racin) and Waiting history (2016, Antolog). His poems have been translated into numerous languages and published in Macedonian national literary periodicals, as well as abroad.
Mitko Gogov: Three poems translated by the author and Aleksander Mitovski
A RECYCLED TRIMESTER, A SIGN OF RELIEF
(days in which we collide, but in which, like frames from the wrong movie, we get alienated, we pass one another)
We throw away time like it bears no meaning
We let the rain wash off
Approximate sins daily as we go on
With our game – you started it!
These nights get their warmth from the last of the fires
Vernal paganism and neoplastic nerves
– old journals, the scent of unheard tales
Under the street pines you can hear the wind rustling,
You’d want to drain the marrow out of air’s ribs
Our interest is exclusive,
Our attention – shocking
The desire to change something – Hurry up!
We throw hope in the maze of despair
Then squeal like white mice stuck in bitterness
Like most beautiful animals do, we beg to have our fur stripped
All the while feeling the flaying an inch at a time
The next day we wake up
With coffee consoling us
That at the bottom of the mug
Someone’s put poison
To make our day shorter
And wherever we may go, we’ll be
Welcomed with cake
We invest in the wrong sighs,
We are all a ‘but’ in the wrong theatre.
We lose what little we have
From what we’re not enough
To purchase more often:
Time, patience, gazes, warmth and smiles
Heavenly, otherworldly delights
A trap is every attempt to close the door
You’ve never opened before
We’re miniscule souls, specks of dust lost in the cosmos
Dreaming of the grand gardeners’ magical gardens
Yet we never seem to plough in our own
We’re nowhere near producing food
Yet we’re considering flowers
We miss the buses
And pay through the nose for taxis
We forget our phones on the seats
And let our dreams be eaten
And in the end we get fevers
And inner cold sores of the soul
And the odd anthill in our weakness
Again pollutes our joy.
(since my feet will not walk on anything else)
I look for you like a needle in a haystack
Like an iced plane
On a melting island
In which I could
Put a polar bear
So that it feels a bit
I look for you like I would a mirror reflection
Hiding my age
Like a bicycle hidden in the attic
In order to ignore my youth,
I look for you like I would the knife
Of the neighbour who slaughtered our footballs,
Or like the net, the fish trap, the sack
We went fishing with
Along the river half-dried up
I look for you as if for a Manila hemp thread
Torn off the kite
That would fly off in the endless blue
We would patiently go and pick it up
So that we could try
I look for you like I would my secret crush
From the days of childhood folly
Or like sandpaper
To sand off the beer bottle caps
So they’d slide down the tarmac
When we played
A game of Paths
And I know you are lost on a path
Searching for something
And you’d turn round
And speak my name
Like you would a pledge, or the ancestors’ forgotten shadow
As proof that my ludens exists
To demonstrate there is
No pool we haven’t leapt over
That hasn’t tried to do us harm
And there is no man that has scared off
There is no child unborn wanting to break
Our unframed family
– of course seven years of bad luck
Will befall on us,
If not a lifetime…
We are human,
That’s why we’ve fallen
In the traces of the shadows
the tranquility of their silent voices
Like lost leaves
we are pushing ourselves toward the sky,
…actors that are playing with the wind.
Prelude of the fear
to be still alive.
Decay, earth, ash,
bottles at the end of the coast,
we transforming into particles
somewhere into the Ocean.
Mitko Gogov was born in Skopje, Macedonia in 1983. A poet and conceptual artist, his work has been translated into numerous languages around the world and appeared in a wide range of journals and anthologies. His debut collection Ice Water was published in 2011. An editor and activist, he also founded and organises 100 Thousands Poets For Change, the international literary festival in Stumica, Macedonia.
Dragi Mihajlovski (b. 1951, Bitola) has a PhD in Philology and currently works as a Professor of the Theory and Practice of Translation and Interpreting at the ‘BlazeKoneski’ Faculty of Philology in Skopje. He is a writer and translator from English into Macedonian and vice versa.
Silvana Neshkovska is assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at St Kliment Ohridski University in Bitola.
Elizabeta Bakovska (b. 1969, Bitola) graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philology in Skopje, and obtained her MA at the same Faculty. She has, to date, published two poetry collections, a collection of short stories and a novel.
Ana Lazarova Nikovska is an associate professor in the Faculty of Applied Foreign Languages at the American University of Europe, AUE-FON, in North Macedonia.