6 Poems
by Zvonko Karanović, translated by Ana Božičević

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The Gentle Crush of Lines around the Lips

On the dark streets
there's no-one to see the dash through puberty
the gentle crush of lines around the lips
each smile lasts twelve days
each small sun
disappears into the sugar box
the scars are fields of roses
on Prom's dreamy skin
and for all that,
the South is still wild
anesthetized with guilt
the paper sky of the industrial town
burns with an unforgettable fire
& mythic images of
the senseless slaughterhouse of dreams
resemble a bloody liver in the dirt
my new shelter is called TV
while I embrace the past
the stereo bears witness
and I admit
I always felt like Jesus' son
searching for lost luxury
I asked once
where does breakfast sleep
once I made love with a sumo beauty
once I found comfort on a great wave of confetti
once I slowly, slowly like a moron
unwrapped the pack of Marlboros
lit up
and blew smoke into the spring day

Dream No 33
Your daughter's name will be Salome
she'll have dark eyes
disconsolate like hunger
a lizard-skin wedding dress
and a lock of your lover's hair
she'll be psychic
she'll choose death on a plane
from Oslo to Kandahar
your son will be called Sebastian
in love with his sister
he'll discover the magic mountain
the cradle & the kaleidoscope
Salome's secret diary
he will print as
the new Bible
he'll push your wheelchair
in the golden twilight of the sanatorium
you won't take the black silks off until
the end of your life
and the wind will be
sole companion
sole comfort

In the Silver Mines

Life in the silver mines nears its end
and soon the time will come
for everyone to take responsibility
for what they didn't say
the people passing by
touched my cotton shirts
swinging on the line
and my window smashed a thousand times
and Franz Kafka
who sat next to me
in the classroom overlooking the playground
I remember him each time
I fall drunk upon a feather pillow
and put my arms around the fields of grain
swaying in the wind
silently and soundlessly
I will escape people one day
into the forest
that will never become a flooring mill
into the sky
sending rain for eyelashes stuck shut

The Panorama and the Night Will Belong to You

In locked rooms
my friends string pearls
they found at pharmacies
and then
one flicker before waking
through the milky way and nirvana
they return to the streets where
an angel-faced hipster awaits them
and a room full of
shiny unwrapped packs of Marlboro
then they cruise the city, dead
and place back into heaven
each little snowflake
that's when I remember
I dreamed of Dubrovnik again
the round yellow stone
where I first got sick
Oh, cruel sister
don't lower your fingers to my dreams
the sad young seals working remote
telephone exchanges
at Christmas
ivy and roses
blaze on the blue-black cliffs of
a crumpled childhood
as I jump from the fifteenth floor
I embrace the night that passes


It's nearly painless
like solitude
like the scent of blond just-washed hair
caught by chance in passing
Mayflies die
until one
survives till the morning
and then they vanish
one day I'll tell you
about the wreaths of dried flowers
we left on every birch tree lost in the fog
on the muddy path somewhere in the villages
about the girl whose hands tremble in the rain
for seven long years
I searched for my sister
and found her one afternoon
behind the first row of books on herbs
her voice was metallic
she swallowed tokens
and joints with chocolate
we'd never met
she slept inside the walnut shell
and used to say conversations were
just long goodbyes
often she'd enter my room
and touch my hair until
it turned to dust
into hands that tremble
in the rain

It Was Easy to Set the Snow on Fire

We kissed
in the cold air
blue lips
frozen fingers

rapt like children
we shivered
like dogs in the rain
and that was enough

it was easy to
set the snow on fire
to give love away
to chance passers-by

in a waiting room
at the end of Europe
we didn't pay attention to
flies and fake patriots

we kissed savagely
swapped blood for blood
flesh for flesh
fire for fire

remember what I told you
one life
one love
one flash of muscle

remember, it
was exciting
to run away into your own night
guard the rain in your dreams

to be born where you don't belong