poetry

Drago Glamuzina: Butchers

“Butchers” (Mesari), a collection of poems by Drago Glamuzina, won the Vladimir Nazor Book of the Year Award and the Kvirin Prize for the Best Book of Poetry in Croatia, and was translated into German, Macedonian and Slovene.
Glamuzina was born in Vrgorac in 1967. His publications include Mesari (Butchers, poetry, 2001), Tri (Three, a novel, 2008), Je li to sve (Is That All, poetry, 2009), Everest (poetry, 2016)...
“Love and jealousy through a clash of one body against another become the origins of speaking about life and the world in general. Glamuzina’s act of switching the idyllic love couple with a dramatic love triangle ignites the lyrical narration that spreads in different directions. (…) His “butchers” often cut at the most sensitive spots.” (K. Bagić)



 

 

"BUTHCHERS"

(a selection)

 

Translated by Damir Šodan

 

 

 

The Old Man Who Screwed Her

 

yesterday, her ex-lover called.

a sixty year old guy

of whom she once wrote in her diary:

"no one ever turned me on like this.

not before or after."


he was a friend of her father's,

the old man who screwed her

while she stayed in the hospital.

and after. the guy who thinks

that even fifteen years later

 

he can just call her and say:

"I saw your photograph in a newspaper.

tomorrow, I'm on duty, please come

and see me when it's dark."


and it is dark

and I'm climbing towards the hospital.

I want to see that doctor

to whom she used to

submit herself so readily

that even today he thinks

he can just reach for the phone

and call her.

 

 

 

 

On the Leash

 

on the postcard that she sent me from Prague

there is a woman visiting a doctor.

the woman is naked, wearing hat and holding an umbrella

in her right hand, while in her left she holds a leash

with a small pig tied to its end.

on the back of the postcard it says that it was chosen

and purchased by a well-known Czech man of letters,

a friend of Havel's, who understands it all.

so that's how Ludvík Vaculík signed his way

into our lives.

 

few moments after he signed the postcard

Ludvík Vaculík had to stop talking

about how he cheated on his wife

and fought against Stalinism,

and listen to her crying

and waving that mobile phone

ready to hit me on the head

from a distance of 1.000 kilometres.

 

then we both began calming her down:

myself from here saying - please calm down,

and himself over there saying - can you please calm down Mrs.

 

 

 

 

Singularity

 

while I waited for her in the restaurant, I tried

to rest a bit. first I dissolved a vitamin pill

in a glass of water, then I swung in my chair

and leaned my back against the wall

bringing my body into a horizontal position almost.

then I closed my eyes and tried to take a nap for 5 minutes

while I waited for my pork hocks. but the waiter did not come

into the dining area for good 15 minutes and when he finally

popped his head in, he shouted to the lady-cook:

take your time, he's asleep!

upon hearing that, Boris Maruna lifted his eyes from the papers

- where he had just read that Tuđman had been connected to a respirator -

and glanced at me only to plunge back

hungrily into the daily events: Tuđman's illness

and various scenarios for the resolution of the state crisis.

my flue, Tuđman's respirator, Maruna's pork hocks

and his wide-open newspapers: the black hole

of singularity - and flue.

 

 

 

 

Stretched

 

again in that ugly hotel.

we lay on stretched on our back

listening to that couple screwing

in the room next to ours.

we're trying to talk and then we give up.

their ceaseless moaning that fills our room

had stopped exciting us long time ago;

that jangle of two people sticking into one another

while the darkness grows thicker and thicker

as we lay stretched next to each other.

 

then leaving, running the gauntlet

between the Vukovar refugees in the hallway

who eye us like heartless intruders

who come to fuck right there under their nose.

 

those rooms, hallways and moments

the body will remember at some future moment

fill with yearning for this time here.

 

 

 

 

He Said Don’t Be Angry, She Said I’m Not Angry

 

yesterday her ex-lover called.

a friend of mine

whom many years ago I encouraged

to endure in relationship with that impossible woman.

he wanted her to call him when she's alone.

 

I wanted her to call him

while I am there beside her without of course

letting him know.

 

he told her he wanted to be with her again.

she told him that wasn't possible any more.

he said - don't be angry.

she said - I am not angry.

 

I was satisfied with what I heard

until later on the bus

I became haunted by the thought

that she could have easily called him back

right after I left

saying that she'd changed her mind.

 

the phone rang rather long

and then I asked her:

did you call him?

I didn't

- she replied.

 

 

 

 

Trembling Deers

 

gamblers and lovers actually

gamble to lose

 

 

The night fell

and Mahler went to get Gropius.

The two men walked for a long time alongside each other

in silence.

When they arrived, Mahler called Alma and left her

in the drawing room with her lover.

When Alma finally came to fetch Gustav

she found him

reading Bible and trembling

trembling, I am sure.

He said then:

"Whatever you decide is for the best."

 

Few minutes later Mahler, with his hat in his hands,

walks Gropius to the gate of their estate

lighting the way with a lamp.

 

Afterwards he sits down and with his trembling hand

writes on the manuscript of the Tenth Symphony

"To live you, to die for you, Almshi!"

 

Nine years later Mahler is dead and Alma is still alive.

It is the year of 1918 and the handsome lieutenant of the German Army

and the founder of the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, returns from the war.

Upon arriving to Vienna, he first comes to the plump Franz Werfel

and takes him home. There that four times wounded builder of cities

falls to his knees before Alma

and her lover

saying in a trembling voice:

"It's all my fault!"

 

And tomorrow, in nine or fifteen years? What did you expect:

Franz Werfel - who made a name for himself with a novella "Not the Murderer" -

watches from his window

the priest who visits his wife every morning and night

saying in a trembling voice:

"That's Alma's last folly."

 

 

 

 

Everything Is Just the Way It Should Be

 

the end of August. some ten years ago.

a man and a woman, complete strangers,

are sitting at our table having a row.

right there in front of us

who are, unlike them, a little drunk.

just about enough not to get up and leave.

she talks about those spots

that she found again on his trousers.

and that whore he screws at work.

then she concludes: and I loved him so much,

and goes on telling how on their wedding day

she came even before he touched her.

from pure happiness.

 

last night in bed,

as we laid in silence,

listening to the tape-recorder grinding

in the other room,

you said: everything is just

the way it should be,

but I remembered that woman,

the pious excitement with which she talked

about her orgasm and your hand in mine

as we listened to her.

 

 

 

 

Butchers

 

I've already gotten used to that

butcher's axe

chasing me to bed.

but before that happens

I want to finish reading

the last episode of Campbell's comic

about Bacchus. today

he is four thousand years old

and he is tired from too much wine and too many women.

 

he is frequenting New York bars telling for a glass of wine

how Greek girls used to come to him to tear them to pieces.

the whores and the queens alike.

sometimes he goes too far and takes out his shrivelled dick

and beats it against the table - just like my friend Milko -

after which they usually throw him out of the joint or they call the police.

 

I'm opening the window to let in the morning air.

down there on the ground floor

they are carrying the pork bellies into the butcher-shop

only to cut them and tear them to pieces.

 

then I make coffee and wake Lada up.

after she goes to work I lay down

on that spot on the bed

where she'd been lying.

still feeling the warmth of her body

while I wait for the fatigue to knock me down.

so I can get that old god, his wives and butchers

out of my head.

 

 

 

Swimmer's cave

don't say it was a dream,

your ears deceived you:

Constantine P. Cavafy: The God Abandons Antony

 

Fragments of an unknown language

echoed through the dark cave

entwined with our tongues,

sealing our kisses with codes.

Only yesterday we hid from your husband

at the marketplace in Tripoli

and when the desert wind raised your robe

and the Arabs saw

that you were not wearing panties —

they jumped on tables,

knocking down pyramids

made of watermelons, dates and carobs,

and grunting tried to grab you in the crowd.

 

 

You trembled like Nessim's filly

behind the blinds of the inn

watching your chasers yelling

and laughing in the street

grabbing their balls.

Tell me what they're saying, you said,

as splinters of an unknown language

entwined with our tongues

and we listened to the sand

dripping down the window panes.

 

 

 

 

While Gasping For Air

 

I drive her to the hospital

where her father is dying.

We are silent and then she says quietly:

“You’re still messing with that woman,

I heard you last night whisper into the phone!”

I reply that it is not true,

but she is tired of listening to my lies.

I roll up the window

so the other drivers will not hear us

screaming at each other.

 

Later we stand together

by her father’s death bed

trying to encourage him to hold on.

We are holding hands

as life is departing from his body,

listening to his delirious

ramble.

We can hardly understand

anything except for that one word

as it rolls through the chambers

of his darkened mind,

rattling down his congested

throttle,

while he’s gasping for air.

“Love! Love!”, he repeats

choking as his whole body

convulses.

 

 

 

 

A Photograph of My Father from 1972

 

It is strange how things

sometimes overlap,

even when you don’t want them to.

Few days after I read Carver’s poem

“The Photograph of My Father In His 22nd Year”

I am looking at the photograph of my father

when he was 33.

My brother and I are peering through

the window of a Moskvich

(Carver’s dad had Ford!) while the father

is standing outside holding me by the hand

as he will continue to do

supporting me through my whole life

holding me when I needed that.

 

30 years later

my brother called

to let me know that Dad had died.

 

Now I am staring at that photograph

that we found among your papers,

reading the poem that I wrote

after your death about you and my own son.

I loved you – father – I write

and I am sorry I did not hug you and told you that

the last time we saw each other,

however improper it seems saying those things

while on summer holidays

as we sit there tanned and smiling

(not being able to foresee anything).

 

 

 

 

Freud’s Room

 

These days people don’t know about him,

but Viktor Tausk was the writer from Zagreb,

one of those strong and wild

early 20th century men of letters.

He wrote the story Husein Brko

where in a father orders his son

to kill himself and the latter

immediately runs to the river

and throws himself into the cold water.

After that, V.T. went to Vienna

and became one of the champions of the psychoanalysis.

He wrote the first psychoanalytical work on schizophrenia,

but that does not interest us here.

 

Tausk was loved by women,

so he was known as a ladies man in Vienna.

Lou Andreas Salome was his, after Nietzsche

and before Rilke, but for both of them,

Viktor and Lou – like with so many others from that circle,

it was the old Freud whom they desired the most.

 

Victor wanted to be analyzed by his teacher,

he wanted to enter his dark study

and be able to lie down on his couch

for hours on end. But Sigmund Freud rejected

him having dispatched him to the beginner

Helen Deutch.

But Tausk then killed himself.

It was a thoroughly performed task.

First he castrated himself,

then he tied a noose around his neck

and fired a bullet through his temple.

 

On his desk he left the farewell letter for Freud

wherein he thanked him for everything.

But already on the next day Freud returned the letter

to Tausk’s son who kept it until his own death

as a proof that his father

had been one of Freud’s friends.

Then the founding father of the psychoanalysis himself

sat down and wrote a letter to Lou.

“I am not sorry at all that Viktor Tausk is gone”,

he said.

 

I’m reading those letters again.

I see how easily we enter into their lives now.

We can even change them if we really want to.

I tell that to my wife

who is standing by the window

observing her son playing outside

in the yard.

 

“A hundred years ago it was a matter of life

and death, whereas today it’s just an interesting story”,

she says turning around.

 

 

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