poetry

Branko Čegec: Advertisement For Death

Branko Čegec was born in Kraljev vrh in 1957. He is a poet, a critic, an essayist and a fiction writer who graduated from the Zagreb Faculty of Philosophy in Croatian Studies and Comparative Literature. He has been editor-in-chief of many newspapers and cultural magazines. His poetry has been included in various reviews and anthologies in Croatia and abroad and translated into English, German, French, Italian, Slovenian, Ukranian, Macedonian, Polish, Ruthenian, Hungarian and Lithuanian. His books include: Eros-Europe-Arafat (1980), West-East Sex (1983), The Makeover of the Avantgarde (1983), A Melancholy Chronicle (1988), The Screens of Emptiness (1992 and 2001), The Freedom Phantom (1994).



 

SEESAW

 

again no-good is so good!

plum-brandy is in the blood,

snow in the nose,

flora in the lungs.

soft-boiled for breakfast,

hard-boiled for supper.

sex and food come

at the end, the beginning, and in-between.

sex kills business hours,

food other sports..

I don't want to go to heaven

for I know nobody there,

if heavens is what they talk about.

requiem for healthy food,

the repose of virtue,

the long litany for safe sex.

you have never

really quit smoking.

you're thirsty without wine,

hungry without pornography.

where does good end and no-good start?

you look at the covered: what do you see?

you look at the uncovered: what do you see?

the covered reveals,

the uncovered conceals,

no-good is good,

good is no-good:

it's slippery on a seesaw.

 

                                      

 

LANGUAGE

 

should one wake up young men

and head for the tunnel?

they are so laid-back,

eager to dodge any resistance.

guitars are much better,

dancers too above the plains.

adrenaline no longer lives at great heights:

it descended into scrotums,

hormonal refuge,

from there directions

and semantics to be cut out.

words that stay in the game,

young words from times immemorial,

those that bore meaning

and then not.

now their sprays sketch names

and pathos on walls

around galata and everywhere else.

the most beautiful language

is the one you do not understand.

there lies the truth and the future.

between the message and the meaning

nobody succeeds in raising a bridge.

the bridges over bosporus

resist symbols.

surgery is on the other side.

you excise something, add something.

bypass is of itself.

you stop,

buy a boat, and

go fishing.

             

 

POPULISM

 

bureaucracy is the mother.

do you know who the father is?

caterpillars count statistics:

there's shortage of numbers

you used to mask war mysteries

and the drudgery of mental institutions:

the healthy are sick, the sick, healthy:

turn her around, twist her

for lindjo dance and for mogadishu:

the black princess comes down

and opens her dress.

guests and visitors are on their way out.

the immense crowd starts to chant:

how much of this? how much beyond sight?

you hennaed your little belly hair

and laughed at vulgarities,

laughed hysterically

at the pack of dogs.

they howled, kept jumping over corpses:

one is a sheep-dog, the other a werewolf.

the pack is hungry,

the pack is thirsty,

attacks the blood flow,

spreads out the front-line

along the railroad track, then toward the marble.

do you know who could bring that to a halt?

do you know who the father is, the narrator, the falsifier?

the mother is the father.

mother.

father.

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT FOR DEATH

 

a huge wind swooped down from bulgaria,

bringing nearness that made

the whole suburb go down.

everyone's mind was reeling,

the picture and the sound came off and on,

and tonight a man

simply collapsed

and died in the middle of istiklal.

people gathered,

gave a piece of advice,

one tried to resuscitate him,

another to open his clenched fist:

to no avail!

to no avail!

two police cars arrived,

the ambulance and a passing khojah.

some took photos;

you can't photograph death!

I muttered to myself

in croatian,

convinced no one would understand

that cheap provocation.

the wind lifted cardboard boxes

hurling them toward taksim.

a group of street players played frantically,

without stopping, as if running from something,

fifty meters away they were from the dead body

that was being wrapped in a black bag,

the way the police usually do that.

no, no, not a single initial movement ceased!

no, no, no one stopped advertising durum and roast chestnuts!

the sirens merged with the sounds of other sirens!

ten minutes later at the very same spot

barefoot boys playing traditional instruments

were rearranging

complicated tunes.

there were those others there,

on the other side of the street,

but the news did not reach them.

 

 

TADIJA

 

they were alone in the street, graffiti jarred the walls, white powder the nostrils: I stretched both arms and plowed morning acquamarine, craziness spilled out of it, the story about unbridled birds from the neighboring university: she wanted to fuck again, I say again, and I didn't even take it out, still hot and limped it simmered in its own juice: some bread crumbs and pepper, salt, parsley, seventeen capers! she moves more and more strongly, the fluid doesn't evaporate, a fateful splash comes from somewhere.

I don't cook for the audience: to prove to myself I know that. I do not use aid. I have only my body and disobedience, brooks stream down the slope and empty into the white linen woven by someone's mother: all this is so blasphemous, I turn

the accessory instrument and resign myself to the alternative: full of skepticism

and synthetics: rainy mornings and starry nights, street musicians in the prime news: what news: what's a piece of news? who needs it? who can give it to me? who is that one to me? what? mice are white again: rivers deep: the seas lap at the shores: lorca loved green: another fucked all the time, then he died. we talked about him for a long time.

 

 

HOLLYWOOD

 

do you dream, do I? not at all: dreams are already on their way to a neighboring galaxy, they say nothing, neither prophets nor bombs, they are not symbolics or a carnation in croatian poetry. vagrants and interceptors control the array which gets one nowhere, trails lined by a dick on the sand of the environment and biology. I alone. she alone. it alone. oblivion is the best memory.

I was a director all week long, having spent 23 million dollars on the movie, whores, statistics. south wind kept opening up lines of trees and stone pussies on monuments, we strayed into a quarry, then sodomy, brave fingers of the resistance freedom movement protruding out, without a name, a message: only a mystical laughter on the platform above stumps and head buzzing one does not die of again: you can't die twice for the same cause, not twice in the same hole, for the splash conquered the space and now pumps patriotic and battle songs ad infinitum, while you are evergreen and the king of rebellion at the city square, not far from a symbolic bang that leaves nothing behind, neither desolation, nor movement: panting, between semblance and oversight, you sketch a travelogue to the end of the world, some world, any world, if it, possibly, yet andsoon. and so on.

 

                                                               

                                                                                       Translated by Mario Suško 

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