THE BALKAN BRIDGE, MILAN, IN THE STORMS OF CONSTANT PARTING, MANURE FOR THE GARDEN OF EDEN, LOVE IN THE SQUARE

THE BALKAN BRIDGE

For Ismail Kadare

For millennia we have quarrelled,
for millennia we have built and demolished
the Balkan bridge
(over the Drina,
over the Danube,
over the Ujana e Keqe
in Albania) . . .

For millennia we have asked ourselves:
Where is the Golden City –– East
or West?
Where is the real Prophet?
And what will be our profit
from that bridge
between the Sunrise and the Sunset?

With knifes in our teeth,
we have asked ourselves:
Is it true that living people,
our people,
have been immured
to make the bridge stronger?

For millennia we have quarrelled, and fought,
died and killed,
built and demolished . . .

Meanwhile
the airlines were invented.
Today no traveler can see
our ancient bridge.

Тranslated by the author with Alicia Ostriker

 

 

MILAN

Mustafa eats fire
with a stone face
in the shadow of the Flamboyant Gothic.
The cathedral has hidden the sunset.

The crowd in the square
applauds Mustafa.

The green snake sign hisses at the cathedral.
With its stars and wind,
the night attacks the sunset.

The moon is red and slow.
The building are already dark.
Mustafa is Italian.

Translated by the author with Tom Philips

 

 

IN THE STORMS OF CONSTANT PARTING

In memory of Danila Stoyanova (1962-1984)

In the hurricane, amidst the stubble
the bright bluebell, nothing’s eye,
is too small for the lightning to strike.
The sycamores, red-hot, hiss in the rain,
a bolt strikes the field, rocks are scalded. . . .
Unable to take cover, the flower stands watch
and at last becomes the blue sky.

Sky – short-lived and fragile flower,
brightened by magnetic storms,
breathing in the darkness, blue atop green,
it flickers, blooms, fades,
beholds the death of stars.
In the horror of the dark cosmos
who blew in the seed of the sky?

Who loves all fleeting things –
a ray of sun, each conception,
the history of the earth itself?
He could be as small as the tear
that for a moment brims in your eye
in the storms of constant parting:
a flashing beacon in the sea of death.

Translated by the author with Henry Taylor

 

 

MANURE FOR THE GARDEN OF EDEN

Art can turn
manure into flowers.
Just like nature.

A cool song, a nice blues,
something like: “ Мy baby left me…”
“I think I’m gonna die…”
can make you happy.

We need more music,
more life in nature.

Let our misеry be
manure for the Garden of Eden!

Translated by the author with Tom Philips

 

 

LOVE IN THE SQUARE

When I was young I had a dream:
I’m walking down the street and realize
I’m naked from the waist down:
passers-by shoot glances at me
and me, I’m dying of shame …
Or it dawns on me
that I am late for school
a whole day … a year … many years
and I won’t be able to graduate …
Or Evil’s chasing me
into the square
and my legs go weak,
tangled like my tongue,
betraying me …

I had a good dream too:
I’m naked in the public square,
but I wave the shame away –
the stone falls from my heart –
I shovel the air and swim –
breaststroke, sweet and slow –
I rise above passers-by, the flowerbeds –
I love them!
I fly through the May air
naked and free,
like a storm-bird, like a seagull –
naked and free
like the soul after death.

Translated by the author with Tom Philips

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