poetry

Dorta Jagić: Some Selected Poems

Dorta Jagić writes poetry, short prose pieces, drama and theatre reviews, and translates from English and German into Croatian. Since 1999, she has been involved with various amateur theatre groups as a director and educator.
Her work has been widely translated.
Her poetry has been awarded both in Croatia and abroad.



 

CIRCLES

 

autumn is here already.

the season of falling to the heart

and I am stuck at the mouth.

how many more dates with gray gassy pins

that all have to be hit by the logic of the bowl

filled with king David's verses?

the classic chestnut is here already.

how many more Jeremiah's sweetbreads

must I eat in order to be purified?

the black lady bag is torn already

the one I asked for

this summer

and then got it as a present

 

(translated by Daniel Brcko)

 

 

HONEYMOON ON TRAM

 

on Sunday nights after the service

on a foggy tram I can always begin to create

from nothing.

not even the major is there, or a canary.

there is no love letter that

the female ticket inspectors have left in the ticket machine

no dry towel, no pink-shoe polish,

no ladies' room.

not a single cardboard box with an abandoned

little girl and a note.

by the look of the pathetic bareness of Czech windows

and seats it is obvious that the first thing that king's time-eaters

do on a tram is shift their clocks to winter time.

I could cry over a slice of bread that somebody has thrown away

and a glass of red wine on a stair

by the front door.

I do not feel like it because there is no music or heating,

or that screenwriter from htv

who does not believe that man went to the moon.

no fake M.A.'s with flat feet

or leftover mines under the seats.

on a cold tram number twelve seen or bothered

by nobody

I am dragging a cable all the way from God to my permanent dear

to the neighbor husband called almost as me.

I wish I could finally drag him over here and sit him down, at least

to the last stop.

all I know is that he is handsome as a Gypsy and

that he uses paintbrushes to move around.

but there is nobody on the deserted seats

to read him his rights and handcuff him

in case he comes in at the next stop.

and if he happens to ask me the same cheeky question has you married

how am I supposed to go on my honeymoon

with all these accordions and wedding dishes

before the Kvaternik square stop.

 

(translated by Daniel Brcko)

 

 

SONG OF THE YOUNG LADY SAINT

 

in the meadow above grandma's house
as a child a snake bit me
and it promptly died
i ran into the house
no one was there, i just
heard from the humanoid butterfly
agnus dei!
how beloved am i
before the first mountains and the first strawberries
embraced, softly strung up
invented before the invention of wheat and salt
how fully i belonged to the first things

not even the world's stupid pan on top of the head
no sob no ear swollen as a pie
can peel me now
like a potato skin and toss me
into the roman-public mud
while i dance and skip in front of grandma
who's back from the store
his head's inside me like a lantern
and his blood in my throat like vanilla
even before the world began my hair was growing
and today i have long hair
i comb with a red-hot comb
every day i cry over the open
mirror in my hand
those who haven't met
the god of israel
comb their hair in panic
to the wrong side
 

 

(translated by Ana Božićević)

  

 

SONG OF HOMELESS

 

there're many sparrows

they fall on the town like snow off God

and only a few silken bread crusts on the sidewalks

when you want them in your hand

hot chestnuts fly too high above dark

zagreb, black town

of grey hair and neon ads, at its command

parks multiply, and quick lapsing shadows,

dappled balls and strollers, some faces

shed leaves and rusty brown wallet clasps

the banks spin on their axes

merry rows of kisses pass me by

the murmur of hugs

the lidias dapple and the ivanas nest in warm slippers

tv antennas sprout atop buildings like enameled teeth

red lamps come on

too bad, i no longer follow the graceful motion of branches

the stellar night sea thins out

those yellow shooting stars fat with salt

i say

one just mustn't go to bed riddled with frostbite

should set a fire along the body's edges

pour oneself an alcoholic star,

fall headlong into the night and say:

good knife!

 

(translated by Ana Božićević)

 

 

CANTATA ON COFFEE

 

 

at the table in the cafeteria that is a barbershop and a casino

i.e. the whole world

I am sitting and drinking Turkish coffee with French king Louis XIV

(the first espresso machine has yet to be invented in about two hundert years,

so I'm sipping a blackie)

watching silently through the smoke

my huge red tail growing much like Louis's one

while he is bragging how his little Dutch coffee tree

had been a mother to millions of others in America andall around the world.

meanwhile in the corner seven aristocrats quietly play a game of ombre

sipping on their coffees from handless cups.

here and there they show their thin serpent-like

tongues

enveloped in fat brownish tar.

somewhat closer to our table ever more humpbacked

the Coptic monks murmur something over their chalices,

while the Arab doctors debate whether Arabica is any better than coffea robusta.

just as I, drowsier than before, mention to Louis

that I've grown sick and tired of that idle rital

and that I shall never have a single one ever again,

doctor Silvestar Dufour, the discoverer of caffeine, walks in

correcting me impatiently from afar:

no, darling, you shouldn't call it coffee or nutmeg but rather Arabic wine.

due to fermentation - that's orginal name.

bypassing the crowded table where they read coffee grounds

he comes over and sits with us.

the waiter swiftly brings him freshly-squeezed orange juice

telling him how yesterday, after enjoying his first cup of coffee

silly Pope Clement VII proclaimed it publicly a Christian drink

upon which they all had a sip of blackie and laughed.

Finally I stamp out the little serpent below the table with my foot

and get up to pay the bill as Louis is always short

thinking to myself

how clever were those merchants from Italy

selling wine and lemonade

when they called it

the devil's drink.

 

(translated by Damir Šodan)

 

 

A LADY SAINT FROM NOBODY CALENDAR

 

as in Heaven, so on Earth

when she rubs her lips with oil

she grows big and takes off her shoes

like a water-walker

wading into the river

to jump from joy

every single day

for being able to speak out

the unsurpassable inconceivable wonder

first she

than that little wild boar

waiting under a stone

to be summoned

into existence

  

 

(translated by Damir Šodan)

 

 

 

31st BIRTHDAY

 

if that morning
even if it is your 31st birthday
you dont get out of a cake
or bed as a Gods child
wearing a leather waistcoat with embroidered red skates
your whole day is littered with worries,
as if with tissues for cleaning eyeglasses
and something like a spread out peace of well-worn wolf skin
hardens on your purse
and on the zipper of your trousers
catching your nails, your mobile phone and wallet
disturbing cosmic signals
sent to you by some ressurected supreme being
on days like that you stuff yourself with chicken for lunch
and sit down to write average chick poems
due to that growing tension in your neck
and the rising water level of Cetina River
then you call your editor, your cousin and your only living grandma
while the messy monster squirts inside
your womb crying quietly and sipping on black coffee
whining below your armpit at dusk
only to rip you open and fill you up with stones at night
even though it is him who is actually dead
and ridiculous
the next day hunters and surveyors ogle from window
now worry failed yet again
to extend the life of the birthday girl
by at least one more
bloody elbow.
 

 

(translated by Damir Šodan)

 


 

ROOM OF A LADY TRAVELER 

 

when I come back home with my sullied suitcase
what shall I do?
I sat long and wonder at the sill
why all roads lead not to Rome or Moscow
but just this room

to this dry paternal cube
to the hard box of constant dimensions
ridiculously distorted in its standing
like an exercise bike

I, large and golden
with fluid passports in my hair
a student girl of world aerodromes
always bound again
with the four safety belts
of its empty walls

once again after the seaside
to sit with a torn ticket in this room
is about like
hanging upside down
pendant from a thin hook in the wall,
from force of circumstances
from accident
the flutter of butterfly wings in Peking
pendant on someone's wish
here to wait for the big days
of christening, wedding and graduation
like the family
ham on the bone

(translated by Graham McMaster)

 

CHILDISH ROOMS

 

some old rooms from childhood
in time become ever more dependent
on dust and and attention,
fussily infantile, contrary.
little girls-old ladies.
for example, if this is really my room
why does it not shine like johnsons wax
all by itself as before
why does it give out so many kilos od dust
each day on all those worthwile things?
as if it were in secret snorting
this grey vampire dandruff
or shooting right into the vases, carpets, me
as if to forget something painful,
no. after all that girl-old lady
deposits the fine ground remains of things
for her pensioner "5 o' clock" cocoa
that shell sip with melancholy
with the oder abandoned rooms
in the neighbourhood when I leave it for some
riper, mature
other

 

(translated by Graham McMaster)

 

 

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