poetry

Dražen Katunarić: Poems

Dražen Katunarić studied Philosophy at Strasbourg University. He composed prose, poetry, and essays. His works have been translated into English, French, German, Spanish, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Corsican, and Italian. He has received several awards, including the literary award "Naji Naaman" (Lebanon 2004) and the literary award of Steiermärkische Sparkasse (2009). He was named a Knight of Literature (Chevalier de la littérature et de l'art) by the French Ministry of Culture.



 

 

THE AGE

                                                                                                                         for Lucumone

 

The Age is a small fossil animal that lives in the darkness of the jar, hung on a rope like a pail of water, by its skin, shape, at the same time similar to a crocodile, a lizard and a turtle. It hangs motionless. Food and light are harmful to it, it tastes somewhat funny in November and December, for the whole year. It shows itself to the world when people find it in the jug themselves, raise the lid by pure coincidence and look into the bottom. Only the Age itself mostly knows about itself.

As it ages it is convenient to it to be more and more seldom uncovered by curious people and as soon it feels light on its rough skin the Age bristles in the dry well: - People, do not lift me on the rope! I am not down there! There are only a few untouched words!

But they, being courious, lift her nevertheless because the Age comes with years. Playing with words, they are tickled by the idea that they will see something unreal, rough, poor and sorrowful, even if they cause pain to the animal. And the Age in the light is the same as the Age in the dark. The same. Only the words have remained on the bottom, the holy ones.

 

Translated by Miljenko Kovačićek

 

 

I STAY IN THE SEA LONGER AND LONGER

 

I stay in the sea longer and longer. In its innocence

It is warm right until sunset when the west

grows red and swallows go crazy with joy: they overtake

the heavens. I stay in the sea longer and longer to enjoy

every wave as sweet as sliced courgettes in

olive oil, sprinkled with parsley, garlic and

sweet basil. I stay in the sea longer and longer to look forward to

the foamy stroke and to the incidental trace;

shall I, with my own eyes, find  memory on

the clear sand, on the leaves at the bottom: in every shadow

there are some layers of a dream. I stay longer and longer

in the sea, watching purple female swimmers on

cracked limestone, seagulls with slanted foreheads, with fish across

their beaks, painted gates on the shimmering, reddish

surface. I stay in the sea longer and longer, alluring

the sunset, in my ears there squeals the echo of joyful days and

cheering: I listen to my own man! I stay longer

and longer, until the dark, in the sea.

 

Translated by Evald Flisar

 

 

YOUR BROTHERS RUN

 

your brothers run

in the land of Chronos

their steps numbered

shadows combined

they play games for themselves

in seclusion with no words

check out the messages

and run again

 

your brothers wish to know

neither joy or nor sorrow

love nor hatred

they run without much effort

of taut muscles

in even movements

their steps numbered

 

your brothers went deaf

to spoken words

they unwind the earphones

surprised faces

nod the head

in troubles of silence

 

your brothers run

check out the messages

and run again

in the land of Chronos

with a light knapsack

of piled contempt

 

your brothers run

not touching hips with elbows

taciturn, serious, absent

with a crown of callous glory

their steps numbered

shadows elongated

 

Translated by Graham McMaster

 

 

PSALM ABOUT THE INFINITE

 

On the island I saw three hundred goats

and thirty billy-goats,

a wonder of sheep,

for thousand bent sheep

and hundreds of lively rams.

Eighty she-asses and ten doleful donkeys

seven hundred thirty five horses,

two gallopping, their mules

two hundred and forty-six.

Herd upon herd, limitless.

But not one shepherd.

With a donkey I found myself face to face,

we confronted each other in the darkness of the stable.

After the vision I sang:

 

I watch your island, God unknown

kneeling

before your work with my eyes

I watch your red earth

the work wounded stalks,

the work of your fists and nails.

You don't have to be ashamed of anything.

Not of cemeteries, landslides, skeletons,

Useless gall-nuts.

Not of barren fig-trees inside a stone enclosure.

Not of cripples made kings.

Not of bones that spring up

from under the soil and sing praise to God.

Not of donkeys who look straight in the eye

alone  with people, alone with you.

 

Translated by Evald Flisar

 

 

UNLOVED

 

You don't know me, my dear, not even when I hold your hand. Caressing your frozen fingers. The waiter caught us at it when he brought us red wine from sheer excitement.

You don't know me, my dear, nor the old woman alone at the table because  no one cares for her, except other old women who will come,

only later,

later...to play cards.

 

Can anyone kiss the way we can, knees touching? The waiter?

 

Would anyone pity the old women, or want them passionately?

The waiter?

 

If I spilled red wine on the floor, you would let go of my hand, feeling unloved.

You don't know me, my dear, but maybe even the old women sense

that I love you, since they are so lively at cards, and the waiter dances

carrying a platter of wine, which means he believes in our love,

 

only you, you don't believe me, my dear,

you have been unloved for too long,

for a very long time.

 

Translated by Evald Flisar

 

 

compilation

 

I do not know from where

the tramontana blows

from the left or right

to flicker in the ears

 

... the answer my friend

is blowing in the wind...

 

lean on my shoulder

listen to the summer's music

the birds are close

nesting around the bell tower

in Lodeve

and fly  around it

below the heart strikes the hours

dreams of the impossible

 

do you hear that old melody

in the air

 

...che colpa ne ho

se il cuore e uno zingaro e  va

 

in summer 2010

I met a gipsy man

in a black shirt

a white mark on his head

 

many women cried

and shamefaced men

when he played upon the accordion

 

... catene non ha, il cuore è uno zingaro e va.

 

the heart is cloying

seven times sugared with almond

you will not clean it

unless you paste your fingers

twixt do and fa

 

for the heart it's not enough

to snatch the hours passed

it wants to steep them in vanilla

consign them to oblivion

 

...e si fermerà chissà...

...e si fermerà chissà...

 

                                                Translated by Graham McMaster

 

 

A WOLF: AN UNPRONOUNCED WORD

 

Everything I see in the world is not immediately a word. And before it became a word, the wolf was an offender, a flayer of skin. That is where my restlessness comes from. Ever since I was small, they have been scaring me that I would meet a wolf. Today I met it and forgot  what its name was, the wolf. And I wanted to pronounce this word at least to myself. In case it devours me, to get to know the killer.

The excitement grows as soon as it approaches me. Syllables multiply too quickly, look for each other’s end, stand on its tail and then jump over to its snout and then everything starts spinning in the brain and it misses.

I admit I cannot rest in the wolf’s glance, the snout opposite me convulses, teeth shine, seek in me the outcome of their longing. How to escape from the disproportion of wildness, hairs, the game of the muscles, probably bloody, and the unspoken words in my stomach? Well, the stomach is the only thing we have in common, our inside, the charm of filling and disappearance, our mother.

At that moment I don’t stammer, I say something to myself about nature and  it bothers me that I also have to say something to the wolf. But his eyes  already rumble and deprive my speech of sense. The snapping of the wolf’s teeth on an empty mouth interrupts my sentence half way through, inhabits it with a hiatus between the words, as if everything ought to be recommenced  in the numb beat of the dark.

 

 Translated by Miljenko Kovačićek

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE WOLF

 

Skiing, distant to nature, I wanted to take her mystery. To me,

she was only a passable, trodden place for the passage of feet.

But only in a fall does one recognize what the body is and what the soul is. Only

in a fall was I ready to turn to nature, once when I

sunk my hands and feet into the snow.

Everything changed, suddenly, forever at once: a silent,

threatening silence took over. The white cover in the silence of the boughs,

everything solemn.

A few meters away from me, a wolf appeared.

He descended onto my slope and set off to the valley. I saw the beast

carelessly dipping its paws into the snow and leaving its image.

All the whiteness, every tree, bark and silence belonged to it.

 

Translated by Miljenko Kovačićek

 

 

NATURE

 

I have risen from the great mountain dust!

I was running and screaming: - I met a wolf, I met a wolf!

I didn’t hide my nature, or the beast a short time ago.

Green in the wood. In the snow.

A coniferous tree shook off its dust.

 

Translated by Miljenko Kovačićek

 


COMMUNION OF THE WOLF

 

Abba – Father, adopt me as a son. I have met a wolf in the forest. I feel like a sheep with a broken spirit. Who will defeat even smaller beasts, when their Snouts are aimed at the moon. At You. He longs for me more than an illusion, more than any woman. He is evil that wants to devour. He is standing in front of me with stiff legs; with hair standing erect; eyes full of hatred; with open jaws; with canine teeth slobbery and showing; everything is wicked, ugly and horribly evil. Father, the wolf is transforming me. If you can do something, give him  communion. Approach him, say a word, but silently, be unselfish, devour him with goodness. Turn him into numb and unpronounceable adoration.

 

Translated by Miljenko Kovačićek

 

 

ONLY IT

 

An animal notes a completely different world.

In the pupils of a beast or of a madman a strange lake spills over.

Disassociated, never associable, innocent and beastly, there is no glance

or thoughts, no looking inside.

It is almost a wasteland. Untouched emptiness, dull,

tearing emptiness that cries for fulfillment like in a temple,

or for plying with a boat from one point to an imagined island, on the way

from the top of a cactus to a plateau, from undergrowth to a grove or to a clearing.

When you meet a madman, this is again not the same as meeting a wolf,

a madwoman or a she-wolf,

because you ought to meet both her and him, from the left and from the right,

right in the pupils, fill out this emptiness that torments us ceaselessly,

only it.

 

Translated by Miljenko Kovačićek

 

 

BEFORE THE WOLF

 

May nobody bore me anymore, because I carry

wolf’s bites on my face!

Only now do I understand how happy I could have been at the time

when the beast hadn’t jumped at me.

I could mourn the others’ graves, jump to heaven

I could catch giant purple butterflies.

I could enumerate everything.

It was easy to live before the wolf.

 

Translated by Miljenko Kovačićek

 

 

A ROLLER MAN

 

He’s a strange man, angry in the morning, drowsy, he gets up on his barbed

feet, he will not talk even to God, but as soon as he starts the roller he

gets livelier at once because he knows that something nice is waiting

for him, long sandy paths and untrodden flying surfaces, waving and scattered,

that lead into the distance, a wonderful walk under the open sky and timid

Aeolian soil, are waiting for him, this infinity which he leans on with all his

weight.

 

Translated by Miljenko Kovačićek

 


A LETTER FROM THE ISLAND

 

Nobody anywhere.

The sea dances around the island

and dissolves its loneliness

(with its light, shallow foam into the cracks).

 

If a rare donkey passes during the day,

that is good!

 

If a field laborer passes

riding on it,

that is also good!

 

Even if a donkey does not pass!

Even if nothing passes!

 

It is all the same to me, whoever comes.

Wind. The moon. A stone-cutter.

A Venetian administrator.

 

Be it a man or a fish,

a reflection or a breath,

a color or a carob,

a dry or a rude word,

it is the same!

 

Be it a wave or laughter in the vines

be it darkness or a snake in the bora

Be it a cricket in the wood, a lonely finger or a grape-vine

Be it a silent, more silent or yet more silent voice,

it is the same!

Loneliness!

 

And loneliness again. 

 

Translated by Miljenko Kovačićek

 

 

 

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