Marko Pogačar, poems, short selection





There is nobody in the attic

     I know

above us is a red-hot concrete roof,

a silver support for the sky,

and we don't have an attic at all.

there are so many things

that daily define absence.

    of the attic

   the house

    the world.

the room is strewn with a low sleepy sound

as if dormice sneaked into the attic, however,

          I already said,

there is no attic.

even the coast has left us. the buttresses

betrayed their walls.

tomorrow I’ll make three hundred

postponed telephone calls,

     it’s been a while since I

could stand verbal closeness.

for the fourth time I started

watching Fitzcarraldo. I learned

that ships can be carried across hills

and that it’s not necessary to be defeated

       in order to feel bad,

                   in fact,

rainy days say

     the opposite.

Kinski is best, it seems.

    reels with Jagger speak in broken tongues.

there is no reason for silence

and nobody should be blamed:

I don’t get mail, commercials don’t avoid me,

        (capital is a night-

    cap for the scented

                  hair of the world)

coffee is never hot enough,

neither is information, there is never enough new records

and never enough rustling classics

     all is a gigantic

tepid puddle of anxiety.

things defined by absence mostly scare me.

e.g. loneliness (conditionally)

        religion (and its horrid absence of the other)

death (unconditionally) and all

I could draw from them is momentary love,

a meaning threaded by rain,

    the drop

that makes the glass overflow.

there is nobody in the attic.

there never has been

         anybody in the attic.

there is no attic and everything hung

above our heads is a massive star-lit pendulum,

a cradle of music, a dark

     sheet of sky with which I

cover myself every night when I sleep.









Like half of a peach

in its southern sweetness.

like raspberries, like peas.

a cow mooing

out of the white alliance of bones.

baked beans, earth’s kidneys,

meat for domestic animals.

something that breeds milk

when the roads are distant

and winter righteous and severe.

like fish, ragout, something like that.

we live quietly in the darkness of a tin can

then someone lifts the lid

and lets in sound and light;

there, suspicious white light.









Something is happening, but I don’t know what.

a chest expanding and tightening,

the vein walls constricting, those grooves, glands,

releasing immense bitterness over Zagreb.

that’s what the sky is like these days: a nightmare

without a bit of holiness. a sketchbook in which many things

have and have not been drawn, the rustle

of millions of legs on the move.

nightmare, voices repeat, nightmare

you repeat. the sharp stripes down which

rain descends into its ruts; fingernails, surely fingernails.

leaves tied around wrists, because it’s autumn and these things

painlessly pass. water is boiling

in pots. dogs blossom black. those who approach me

approach the blunt evil: nightmare, I repeat,

nightmare, they repeat. the entire sky has

huddled into the clavicle, and in the sheer noise

no one can hear each other. everything’s new, and everything’s foul,

everything in Zagreb. eyes, plates, things

across which we look at each other. all holy, all sharp

all dogs, all our dense voices. the speech

of a city eager to bite, pine trees, a flock, something

in the air, under the ground, in the walls; something

above us and somewhere else. something is happening,

I don’t know what.









The first Croatian president is slaughtered by oblivion

his junta by too hot soup and the dead waiters

who now ignore them; as I walk the city in the opposite

direction of death, as I buy newspapers, buy coffee at

a kiosk, I listen to my belligerent charm, to my soft character

and Haustor, the band; an average Croat is slaughtered by co-existence,

tolerance, with his mouth full of snow– wide and light smog eases

down on him and takes him, together with all that fall, its

morning dark, with water that rises up along your neck,

water, material and soft; the church is slaughtered by constant quoting

of Christ, by love, unconditional and lasting; a pig disappears on its

own, cowers, into a puddle of breath, into a fistful of blood flowing

before experience; a poem is slaughtered by Drago Štambuk; a mother

as some detailed records describe; nothing remains nothing

that shiny scorched sun.









Honey melts in tea, completely, unlike you with serious music,

and unlike me in you, 


the tense wire of the never-ending call, a crowded bar,

no place for you, and the elevators that are always broken,


the stairs unfold into eternity, like conversations about politics,

and just as someone notices that totalitarianism and democracy


are only a question of numbers, someone pulls the plug,

the picture disappears and everything starts again: voices


leaking trough walls, and evening falls into your hands, like a miner

descending into his pit, yet still, the shoes left at the door


prove the living exist. but what does it mean to live

as winter comes scrolling like cold breath out of your throat,


and builds its nest in the dark alphabet; all those hurried unknown

people with familiar names, an afternoon split in two, like Korea;


the tea and honey have already melted, inseparable,

and this viscous liquid is love: how do I get to you; how do I reach you?










Serpents silent in walls. the walls in serpents are

none: bare bone, flesh,

and venom in the bone and the flesh, venom

which eye by eye brings the world into silence.


where such numb dripping occurred there are no

crowded bars, stairways, bureaucrats,

hens that whisper come and take me, take me with your teeth, come,

take me in silence.


the world is a goldfinch. the thinnest black glass.

a pistil which, like a coin heated red hot on a hood of an enormous

black harvester, burns my eyes, and that white,

like the back of a girl whom I watched from behind


while she dug through her heart forgetting it all, the white space,

on this and that side of a tongue. serpents silent in walls.

Jews are waiting for the prophet. a song seeps out of the speakers, dead

hens whispering come and take me, take me with your teeth, come, take me in silence.


the world is a goldfinch, a black glass; you the awaited one.







How to climb the olive tree with those little claws,
stay a black lizard and survive the sun’s collapse?
every olive is an extinguished star,
and little claws are all we own.

and that’s the secret of gravity, the disappearance of light that swings
condensed in our metal bodies.
our claws are our vanity, the father shakes them off
the laced balcony curtain with a wave.

the world is the giant pedicurist Milena, she eradicates them with a safe hand,
she sings o sole mio, our claws are an over-ripe, naked beauty
love is our debt to the dead.




Translated by Dunja Bahtijarević, Tomislav Kuzmanović, Kim Addonizio, Anthony Mccann, Dona Massini




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