The Market-place in Dubrava

Five poems by Krešimir Bagić




Suddenly the mountain, high,

white with snow,

in front of me.


I look at it and it says: climb!

And I climb.

Collect snow.


Flakes of voice I gift to the whiteness.

The mute curtain of the sky grows

in each movement.


When, finally, I reach the top,

I lie on it to rest

and bow before the crown of the sky.


But the mountain gives me no peace and says:

in you I’ve lost myself,

now you are the mountain.


And as fast as lightning folds itself in,

flees into the earth,

into a grain of dust.


Amazed, I remain hanging in air

as some kind of star in a puppet theatre.


Translated by: Stipe Grgas







Man snaps like a reed in the
scrape of a rusty swing.
While the tube closes into its dark
a child gives him a delighted wave.
Not knowing when to stop,
not hearing the perfidious song of metal,
not seeing the lamp, the axe,
the arm grown to a staff.

The water nourishes the reed and smoothes it,
the water from which the glassy
surface of memory grows.
The swing scrapes on one side,
on the other the reed squeals,
in the mud from which there’s no escape,
in a gurgle, in a clank, in a slap,
in a flight that fades before the wings.

The man closes the window, draws the curtains,
plugs his ears, starts to sing.
But his vocal cords let him down,
redouble the swing’s scraping,
the perfidious song of metal,
fade to black the lamp, sand and sky.
When speechlessness rules space,
the universe thunders without:
“Look at me, daddy!”


                        Translated by: Tim Burton







we built the market-place in dubrava

i can tell you this today

it was Ribe Andjelko Šime and I

kneading clay moulding bricks

no one could do a thing to us


we built the market-place in dubrava

I can tell you this today

planted stalls in the morning and walls

watered them at noon

so that they go straight and bloom


on the meadow in water and mud

we built the market place in dubrava

when we finished

ten men from Dalmatia appeared

and invited us to a game of boccie


we went played and won

Ribe Andjelko Šime and I

after a year we returned to the market place

and the Dalmatians were selling there

cod almonds and seakale beet


we bought the papers and drank each a beer

Andjelko said: we built the market-place

and Ribe: it doesn’t matter we’re Dalmatians

Šime and I said nothing

ordered coffee and played a game of darts


next day Ribe began charging fees for the stalls

Andjelko became his right hand man

today people from Zagorje and Bosnia call them ‘sir’

offer them salads for lunch and fruit for afterwards

the Dalmatians take them out for beer


but both Šime and I built the market-place in dubrava

nowadays we buy cod almonds and seakale beet there

Šime’s home burnt down in dalmatia I myself

became a teacher in zagreb whenever thy have time

Ribe and Andjelko join us in a game of darts


                        Translated by: Stipe Grgas







tomorrow i’ll go to the stadium

blaž is coming

all will stand and root

while i will think

blaž blaž blaž

no i’m not a supporter

i’ll sit on the east benches

and buy seeds

when a goal is scored

all will fall into a trance

while i’ll watch quietly

blaž blaž blaž

blaž is a player

someone will ask

no he’s not he’s god

the players are in babylon

and are learning to talk

but nobody sees him

after the game i’ll take the tram

the fans will steal rides

and talk dirty

while I will persist being quiet

blaž blaž blaž


                        Translated by: Stipe Grgas








Un Marsellais, monsieur Brun,
s'il voit chapeau melon sur le trottoir,
il ne peut pas se retenir, il shoute.
Marcel Pagnol


You’ll not find anyone, between Toulouse and Aix,
who’s more of a legend than Gaston D.
A nice guy with a ’tache from the east-side seats,
a gap-tooth bantam reeking of Gitanes
(like his Mary-Laurence would say)
revving up for OM forty years.

In 1958 his first time at the Vélodrome,
Gastom D. and saw Gunnar Andersson's farewell goal, number 169.
“Here I am and here I’ll stay,”
Gaston thought, and yelled “Allez OM!”
In 1971 Gaston D. woke up the whole stand:
“Somebody call the police!
Magnusson’s thrown the ball to Skoblar!”
Next thing, a quick jerk of the head
and the crowd went wild.

1991. Over a pastis and a game of boules
Gaston D. came up with a Provencal proverb.
“Chris Waddle is the living proof that football
was born in England but grew up in Marseille.”

1998. Gaston D. scrutinised the mirror,
smirked, picked up a scrap of paper and wrote:
Deasailly Boli         Blanc Mozer
        Cezar                 Deschamps
    Skoblar     JPP         Bokšić

You’ll not find anyone, between Toulouse and Aix,
who’s more of a legend than Gaston D.
A nice guy with a ’tache from the seats on the east,
a gaptooth bantam reeking of Gitanes
(like his Mary-Laurence would say)
revving up for OM forty years.

People crowd about him as though he were a prophet.
They say Hidalgo, Beckenbauer and Courbis
asked his advice. And he told them all:
“What I say only counts in the stands.
Get back on the pitch and try to hear from there.”

Translated by: Kim Burton



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