Željka Horvat Čeč: Poems

Born in Čakovec, in the year of Chernobyl and Maradona (1986). Published a book of poems The stars also laugh at frailty (2005) and was one of the authors in the poetry collection There are better things than dry clothes (2007). She was awarded at a competition for the short story "Zlatko Tomičić’ and published a short story collection The cowboy in the red Golf (2010). Published in literary magazines and attended various festivals. She won the first prize for poetry at the Ulaznica 2013 literary competition. In her poems and stories she speaks openly and without compromise. She organizes literary evenings and discussions. She lives in Rijeka, likes sarcasm, football and making a mess.


When we buy walls


We'll have to hold hands. Decorate flower pots.

Politely greet our new neighbors.

At night we'll move the old things, furniture, puzzles and dice.

Iron the curtains and the faces. We'll have to ask the psychic

for a lottery win or the murder of a politician

We have to become concrete.




I remember Amsterdam and Warsaw

London, the streets of Brasow and San Francisco

I remember that Yank from Miami

He asked me why I was reading Ginsberg


sometimes I remember camps

and those barbed wires

and escape

and running and walking

through forests, fields, roads

cities and states

and water and bread


and I remember uniforms and fucking

and how you showed me your cock

and now I tell that to him

and he undresses me gently

and asks I write him letters


for FČ

My summer


You ask, why I kill wasps

throw stones at the rocks

and don't walk the joints


why I talk to crabs

and harass them

why I can't walk in slippers

why I still build forts in the shallows

wear a straw hat

why I eat Bobi flips and read Lacan


you ask me why I swim naked


how can I explain myself to you

when you don't understand my summer

One day until betrayal


One day I'll rob a bank and help the poor. And myself. And family.

If I'm not caught.

One day I'll walk in the woods and sing like a dying bird

until I'm left without feathers.

One day I'll find a wounded animal and help it. I won't kill it, it'll be my family,

and you don't kill family.


Except in betrayal.




we pissed as children, unwillingly

the grownups pissed, and the soldiers

in trenches, in shelters

in dungeons, in the night

before and after noon

in the morning

4 fried eggs

for breakfast

pissing comes before that

but leisurely

and no one asks anymore why we

pissed ourselves

and who today wades in

their own piss


Grandma was a little Yeti


Sadako wanted to live

Yesenin didn't

some people like references

I sometimes don't like to communicate


sometimes with grandma, but not over the phone

I talk

by the goal post and the ball

we sing songs of liberty

throw the scent of black locust trees

the words spread

a pity


a pity she's at the graveyard


A resumé


His name is Hrvoje

I don't know his last name

He says he masturbates 3 times a day

Period: breakfast - lunch - dinner

He lives in a small apartment

He doesn't like doing the dishes

He doesn't like football

He likes canaries

and he'd like to fuck more

I don't know what he does for a living

He lives in Rijeka

He wears brown shoes

and says hello when we meet


Like Monte Carlo


Where will we run

when we lower our hands and tears from the house

whose steps will we count

as entrances in the yards on the way to the centre


without children we gaze desolately at the plain of the grass

we say we'll stop in a bordello

and watch without shame


once we lowered our eyes in silence

and laughed at neon lights

shaped like a naked woman


on the road across the bridge houses are rare

and old age falls off them through holes and plaster

she goes gray and speaks into a wine glass


I'm deaf and I'm afraid to hear

because her face is painted with heavy words

and cheap make-up


On dreams


When you dream you're falling

it's not a good sign

nor is running in place

nor your tooth falling out

the old wives say, someone of yours will die

someone will hurt you or betray you

and they didn't say how to kill a snake in your dreams

or how to tell an old wife the cake didn't set

they didn't say how to explain trees to a blind man

but for betrayal we've invented everything

and no one said what does it mean when

you dream of fucking

and come in your sleep




A woman I know

has her birthday today


and I collect with wet handkerchiefs

bits of dream, wishes

and child off the floor


the pain puts on a vest

and greasy hair

hairy legs and the scream of silence

the air too is a minefield now

we breathe here and there

we play games of chance

the numbers of death don't work on the lottery

mathemathics has brought us

only long fingernails and empty pens


after seven days I wrote to the woman I know

happy birthday


If I were a man


If I were a man

I'd be growing a moustache

and beard

riding a bike

popping a wheelie

and yelling

get out the way bitches!

if I were a man

I'd piss on the corner

and go into the wind

to Trieste





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