Thursday, December 24, 2015

Milan Dedinac: The Nighter Speaks

Milan Dedinac:

Photo by Denise C.

Govori Noćilo


Ne ležem. Svu noć se svlačim, pa oblačim.

Gde vreba smrt?
Iz tog skupljenog plasta po kom sam sinoć ležao
pa razgrtao samoću

Vetre! vetre! što ćeš me pod veče
zateći na putu
čekaš me da prvo senkom istočno nebo zamračim?

U tebi, tebi
– kraj u ovom kaputu!

Ja ga noćas oblačim
da ga ne svlačim nikad više
nikad više

je li to vetar potonji koji mi oblak šalje?

gde vreba smrt?

Iza tog skupljenog plasta na kom sam dugo ležao
i razgrtao samoću
a ona trulo miriše

Ja noćas kaput oblačim
da ga ne svlačim
nikad više

Da li pod noćnim strašilom
koje ni polje ni mene nikada neće moći
od senke da sačuva?

Ah, samo – do plasta tog u noći!

Ja neću dalje.

je li to vetar potonji koji mi nebo šalje
o, smrti gluva?


The Nighter Speaks


I am not lying down. All night I take my clothes off, and put them on.

Where Death threatens?
From whence?
From that gathered stack on which last night I laid
then spread out solitude

Wind! Wind! who in the eve
finds me on the road
do you wait for me to first darken the east sky with my shadow?

In you, and you
I want
—end in this overcoat!

Tonight I put it on
not to take it off ever again
ever again

is it the wind the latter one sending me a Cloud?

where Death threatens?
From whence?

From that gathered stack on which I lay so long
spreading out solitude
while she smells of rot

Tonight I put on the overcoat
not to take it off
ever again

Is it under the night Ogre
whom neither field nor me it will never be able
to save from the Shadow?

Oh, if only—to that stack in the night!

No farther I shall go.

is it the Wind the latter one which the Sky sends me
o, you unhearing Death?


Translated from the Serbo-Croatian
by Boris Gregoric

On Christmas eve, 2015

Milan Dedinac (1902-1966) was a Serbian and Yugoslavian surrealist poet and theater critic.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Boris Gregoric: 1789


the bourgeois monkey
the land-owning simian

the world
running amok
ever since

but before that
the feudalist beast
like the global capitalist today

and before them all
their ancestor
the slave merchant and owner

and before them all
a caveman
with his spoils

and before him—
the dream
of the kind ones

Poem by Boris Gregoric 12/2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Boris Gregoric, Milking The Midnight Cow and Other Micro Poems

Micro Poems...
Still from some Japanese film? 

Sitting in the Zendo
snowflakes grazing the windowpanes
that dog
will not
stop barking


September in the Basque Country
a train jolts then stops
few get off
one or two board the car
the clouds drift across the sky

再度 (Saido1)

not always so
neither now nor never
it shouldn't be
it had had to be
this now
nothing else
yet a touch
a speck perhaps
of tenderness
of nostalgia perhaps
for what
could have been

history of a pair of walking shoes

these shoes
with their scars
their history
as good as any


chestnut falls
on your head—
a postmodern Newton
the last pilgrim arriving
in the hostel
alas already booked

in the butcher's window
a still life of sausages
and cheeses
la nature morte
the medieval illumination

spoiled by the
quick peek from
the fat-jowled butcher
rearranging the salami

milking the midnight cow

under the milky moon
the roof of an abandoned villa —
a squatter and
a maid milking
the midnight cow


may you be born in May
and may all beings
achieve Liberation from
the chains of Samsara

may we walk together again
upon the fields
of clover, of queen ann's lace and hay,
with the chachkis and trinkets
of life well lived
clacking in our backpacks

may the spring bunnies
pop out
these nibblers on the morning
dewed grass

even a duckling is here
protected by her fierce
daddy duck
fending off the impostors
minding the business
of the creek
keeping an eye
on the coon
that just run under the Co-op's

Hauling Silver

A star falls
in the orchard
dusting the crooked, twisted apple trees
at the end of the season —

we stare at the crater
the silver gathered
and hauled
filling the baskets
with starry fruits

All rights reserved by the author

1Another time (japanese)

Ivan Slamnig: Women




Photo by Miroslav Kirin



Žene su s Venere bića, što žive kod nas.Pretražujemo ih prstima, želeći ih proučiti.
Čini se, da one znaju nešto bolje od nas,
nešto, što mi ne želimo dokučiti.
Kad ih prstima izbodemo,
mi tvrdimo, da ih znamo i odemo.
One ostaju i nikad im ne možemo sve otet.
To nas ljuti i mi kušamo opet.
Ali kroza sve dane one nam ostaju strane,

I – možda će se jednom natrag na Veneru popet.


From Venus women come, these creatures living by our side.
We poke at them with our fingers, wanting to study them.
It seems, they know something better than we do,
something, what we don't wish to know.
When we poke them thoroughly,
we claim we know them and we leave.
They keep back and we never take everything from them.
That makes us mad and we try again.
But through all the days they remain aloof,
And –maybe once to Venus they'll climb back.

Translated from the Croatian

by Boris Gregoric

Ivan Slamnig: was a whimsical 20th century Croatian poet, erudite and translator.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Antun Branko Šimić Two Poems


Edo Kovacevic: Zagreb Scene (oil on canvas, 1930's?)

Podne i Bolesnikl,

Plavo podne sjedi
na oblacima

U jednoj sobi kamo ne ulazi niko
bolesnik mre
Kraj njega ćuti crna tica

U vrtovima sunčaju se gole djevojke
i plavi mlaz visoka vodoskoka
u plavu prazninu


Bolesnik leži mrtav:
predmet pokraj predmeta u sobi

Crne tice

Ispod neba
rep pauna ogroman svjetlucav
sa oblaka visi u vrtove


Ne, njega nema više. Pobjego je. Vrata 
na kući dolje glasno zalupila
ko zadnji put

Da letim za njim niza stepenice?
Ukočila se, stojim

Na podu zgažen cvijet

Kroz prozor
crvene se zvijezde glasno smiju

Ja zovnem u noć iz svih snaga
Na prozoru staklo se zatrese i smiri
U noći
kamenito srce grada ćuti

Moje golo tijelo dršće
obliveno ladnim svjetlom zvijezda



Blue noon sits
on clouds

In a room that no one enters
a convalescent is dying
By his side, quiet, a blackbird

In the yard the naked girls sunbathe
and the blue jet of the tall fountain
into blue vacuity


Convalescent lies dead
a thing next to others in the room

The blackbird's

Under the skies
the peacock’s tail enormous splendid
from clouds hangs over to the yard


No, he is no more. He run away. The door
to the house below slammed loudly
for the last time.

Should I fly after him down the stairs?
Stiff, I stand
On the ground a trampled flower

Through the window
red stars are laughing loudly

Into the night I shout
The windowpane shakes and stops

In the night
the stony heart of the city quiets

My naked body trembles
drenched in frigid starlight

Translated from the Croatian
Boris Gregoric

Antun Branko Šimić* (1898–1925): was a turn of the century Southern Slav expressionist poet and critic who revolutionized Southern Slavic poetry by breaking up its traditional meter and rhyme, introducing  'free verse' .  Šimić died of consumption aged 27. 

Šimić: roughly pronounced as Shee-mitz.  Or 'mitts' in AE.   

On the task of poets and poetry ca 1917 Šimić wrote: "... kragne, manšete, kravate, šalove i sve ono drugo, da bacimo iz sebe sve trope, figure, metonimije, aliteracije, asonance, klimakse, sve ono što je ukus, što je retorika i 'ljepota', to će reći sve ono što je suvišno - i da govorimo istinu"

'...we must get rid of 'collars, handicuffs, ties, scarves, and everything else, we must purge from us all tropes, figures of speech, metonimies, alliterations, assonances, climaxes, everything that is Taste, that is Rhetoric, that is 'beauty', in other words everything superficial —and we should speak truth'

Friday, November 20, 2015

Zen Sow

boris gregoric:


Borisse: B & H,  newsprint collage, 1998

from who knows where this morning, on our doors knocked that aged sow which too shall dance in front of one's gates1 but poor beast was, alas, free, free from that monstrous, criminal metal ring, free from the sweaty hand of its tormentor, free from the kettle-drum's noise, from the dishevelled mud-covered barefooted urchins, one big and free Northamerican gray-haired bear knocking on the doors of our Zen center and—of course—come on in, step inside, how about some coffee? a cake? perhaps even meditation? half an hour if you've got spare time? but please, I am but an ordinary sow, she answers, have you ever heard of a sow that would sip coffee and sit in meditation? 

All rights reserved: Boris Gregoric 

1The Balkan proverb sow shall dance in front of your gates too is the equivalent of 'What goes around comes around'. It refers to the sad old fashion of the itinerant Gypsy bear handlers who would make the bear dance tugging at the metal ring in bear's nostril with one hand, while beating the kettle-drum with another. Cruel and, we hope, by now extinct form of 'entertainment'.

Miroslav Antic: Hide-and-Seek

Miroslav Antić

Grasshopper, photo by Miroslav Kirin


Postoji nešto brže i od same mogućnosti da se
čovek sporazume sa svojom mišlju.Nekakva
groznica uobrazilje. Čarolija.
Trag koji se već dogodio unapred.

Sećam se svoje prve školske torbe. Nisam
žurio da je otvorim. Dugo sam je posmatrao,
obilazio oko nje i zamišljao u njoj
obilje neobčcnih stvari.

I danas, evo, ako dobijem poklon, ne otvaram
ga danima. Lepše mi je da zamišljam šta
može biti unutra. Uvek je tako sa zatvorenim

I tek kad oljuštiš omot, prestaje svaka čarolija,
jer više nema smisla nijedna igra pogadjanja.

Jer sve je u nama kad žmurimo, a strano kad
otvorimo oči. I sve je naše dok želimo , a
tudje kad se ostvari.

Mi smo nalik na cvetove: rastemo u sebi,
unutra, u skladištima tajni i korenju energije.
Samo smo spolja dopadljivi, puni
boja i mirisa. A unutra, u nama, kipe
orijaska sunca.
Sve se to dogadja zato što nismo skinuli omot
sa svog još uvek pitomog i detinjastog

Dobivši sebe na poklon od ovog ovde jedinog
i nepovratnog života, mi u tom srcu
nosimo sve ono što postoji i što će tek
postojati u našim drugim životima.
I ne kvarimo ga kao igračku, da otkrijemo
čime voli. I ne kvarimo ga da vidimo čime
se boji i čime sanja.

Kad zvezde padaju avgusta, ne trči da ih
potražiš u travi. Ne sakupljaj ih po šumama i
ne vijaj za bregovima.
Samo zatvori oči. Bar ti znaš da se igraš

Uhvati ih u letu i sve će u tebe duboko

Zaželiš li se mora ili severnih snegova, zaželiš
li se planina, jezera ili pustinja, samo zažmuri
u svet, ne odmotavaj omot vida,
i sve će se u tebe zauvek naseliti i tu nastaniti.

Miroslav Antić:



There's something faster even than the possibility
that one can agree with one's thoughts. A feverish
fancy of sorts. Magic.
A trace that has happened in advance.

I remember my first schoolbag. I haven't
hurried to open it. For a very long time
I only observed it, circled around it, imagined that inside
full of extraordinary stuff.

Even today, when I get a gift, for days I let it sit
unopened. It's better to imagine what
may lie inside. And thus, it's always with the things

Once you rip the wrap off, the magic vanishes,
and the game of guesswork becomes pointless.


With our eyes closed, everything is there, but it all turns strange
when we open them. When we desire them, things belong to us,
and become alien when we get them.

We resemble flowers: growing inside,
within, in the secret depots, the roots of energy.
Only on the outside are we likeable, filled
with color and scent. While within, inside, the giant suns
are seething.
All because we haven't taken the wrap off
from the still meek and childish

By getting ourselves, a gift from this one
irrevocable life, we, in this heart of ours
carry all that there is and all that is yet
to be in our other lives.
And we don't break it like a toy, in order to find out
how does it love. And we don't break it to see
does it have fears, and how does it dream.


When in August the stars fall, don't run
to look for them in the grass. Don't gather them in the forest
don't chase after them across the hills.
Just close your eyes. If anyone, you should know how to play

Catch them in their flight and they will roll into you

And if you yearn for the seas or northern snows, if you yearn
for the mountains, lakes or deserts, just close your eyes
into the world, don't unwrap the wrap which is eyesight,
and all things shall for ever settle and dwell within you.

Translated from the Serbian language
Boris Gregoric

(August 2015) 

Miroslav 'Mika' Antic (1932–1986): remains one of the most popular and beloved poets from the post-war Serbian and Yugoslavian literature.  He was influenced by his contemporary Soviet-era  'stadium' poets (Yevtushenko, Ahmadulina, Voznesensky...).  He also wrote screenplays some of which were filmed and have become integral part of the Yugoslav Black Wave Cinema (roughly 1960's to mid 1970's). 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tribute to Dusko Trifunovic: Two Ballads


Photo: Boris J. Gregoric


Ima neka tajna veza
za sve ljude zakon krut
njome čovek sebe veže
kada bira neki put

Ima neka tajna veza
tajna veza za sve nas
njome čovek sebe veže
kada traži duši spas

Sidro koje lađu čuva
da ne bude buri plen
tone skupa sa tom lađom
jer je ono deo nje


There's a secret bind
for everyone a law inexorable
binding each one of us
when we choose a path

There's a secret bind
a secret bind for all of us
with which we bind ourselves
seeking to save one's soul

An anchor that guards a ship
not to fall prey to tempest
sinks with the same ship
being one with it

Translated from the Serbo-Croatian language
Boris Gregoric


Pristao sam biću sve što hoće,
Evo prodajem dušu vragu svome.
I ostaću samo crna tačka
Poslije ove igre kad me slome,
Kad me mirno slome.
Pristao sam biću sve što hoće.

Mislio sam da se zvijeri boje
Ove vatre koja trag mi prati.
I to sam mislio.
A sad nosim kako mi ga skroje,
Po meni se ništa neće zvati.
Po meni se ništa neće zvati.

Zablude sam, evo, prestao da brojim
Nemam kome da se vratim kući.
— Nemam kome...
Dokle pjevam dotle i postojim,
Prijatelji bivši, prijatelji budući,
Prijatelji bivši...
Pamtite me po pjesmama mojim.


I'll be everything they want, I conceded
Here I am selling my soul to the devil
For I'll be but a speck
After this game in which they break me
When quietly they break me.
I'll be everything they want, I conceded.

I thought beasts might fear
this Fire following the tracks of mine.
That too is what I've thought.
But now I wear what's custom made for me,
Nothing shall be named after me,
Nothing shall be named after me.

There, my delusions I shall count no longer
I have no one to come home to.
—I have no one...
For as long as I sing, I do exist
Friends of the past, friends of the future,
Friends of the past...
By my songs remember me.

Translated from the Serbo-Croatian
Boris Gregoric

Dusko Trifunovic (1933–2006):  was a legendary author of some of the most beloved  pop and rock songs in the history of Yugoslavian popular music.  These two ballads have been known and sang by millions in the late 70's to early 80's.  * Trifunovic wrote using the colloquial, tradional Slavic decasyllable (the closest equivalent in EL, of course, would be the imabic pentameter).  Some poems he wrote in the 'symetrical' eight syllable meter which represents the later development in the history of the Southern Slav languages.  The rhyming facility of the Serbo-Croatian original is unfortunately not translatable into English (where rhymes are very limited in number, or/thus predictable and stilted).   *Translator's note


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Chet's Last Stand and Few Others

Chet's Last Stand

by the beaten
hotel nightstand
a trumpet
in its case

In the Nick of Time

The new bank card
arriving in the nick of time
to fend off
the Dark Ages
the brave new world
the end days
the fundamentalist madness
train collisions
endless troubles
of the future past tense

Sending you a bottle

the morning sketch
sent across the sea
in a green wine bottle
to the sunny side
of a cafe
wherever you might be


with my arms around it
I'll defend the Siberian elm tree
in the backyard

I’ll defend him
I’ll defend that scraggly giant to death



here’s a sketch of
the birch tree branching
leafing out
your arms outspread

here’s the rabbits
in the grass
at the beginning of summer

here’s you on your skates
and me
following astride
your Daimler roadster
a famous
blue one

Au petit coin des lapins —
as good as any a name
for the trail — the abandoned
single rail line
the end-to-end suburbia

the skater and the cyclist
you training for
the marathon race at the Northern great lake
me assisting  —
circling around the obstacles
the cyclists, the runners
the walkers with their dogs
the breeding rabbits 

mind the treacherous turn
under the overpass
where you can
easily miss the curve
and crash

the hedges
of the satellite suburbia
everyone slaving
no homebodies

so here’s a sketch
for them too

daily mystery


the hissing espresso maker —a steaming locomotive



Eyes are cameras
of the quiet streets
close to the central station
then to the decaying harbor
the cast iron mushrooms
the mooring posts with the verdigris coat of paint peeling —
the guardians of the gray jetty

cast a glance at the hills
on this sad provincial city
only a rusty cargo flotilla 
once the world’s superpower
the pride of the nation! 

  the empires  — how they go! how they go! 

© Boris Gregoric, 2015