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Bratislav Milanović
Unnecessary Chronicle

Forests have disappeared from relief maps.
On the face of the earth have erupted new birthmarks
in the shapes of cities.
Altered is the perfect snout of the world.

Buses, trains, and trams have transported us
from burial mound to burial mound, through life,
while children have played in the dust with the old miracles
and in secret chambers strange wizards

have proclaimed new ones,
from which will spawn yet other saints and prophets-
new seekers of the Holy Grail
and the omnipotent rock of wisdom.

Rivers have changed their beds.
In the pearly oases, in the gardens of Eden
regularly rise mushroom clouds:
in the markets cashiers overcharge
the poor, trading with nothing, but the rumor of money.

In the wild brush near neglected channels,
on which adulterers and fish mongers sail,
desperate people cut hawthorn into sharp spears
to use in some future to transform the world.

Should one linger a little longer, pen in hand,
in a place like this? Who needs a chronicle
that records only fraud and pestilence
instead of a hand that reaches to grasp the extravagant day?

Sea I Wake To

Just now, as dawn awakes,
I fail to glimpse your beginning, or your end:
I only see traces on your face
as on my own: wrinkles we
inscribed in sleep while sailing
from the undesirable to the unfamiliar and-back!
Deep within your
clandestine heart something beats,
through whose auricles and chambers flow
the uncertain years, the overlooked mornings, the bitter dreams.
And in the sky seagulls, precious and not overfed, look to me
to toss them a bit of life,
just a little crumb of hope, while your waters foam
in the sunrise, so long as this fable lasts.
I give myself to your darkness
at this hour, as though I were leaving,
as though the sunlight were entirely solid.

Мајчин одлазак

Mother's Passing

I watch as she crosses the river
without touching the water, freed of all
that could be measured by weight, by anything that could
on this cold morning and in the heavy night
burden her arm, her liver, her mere sleep.

She was arranging her shoes, her dress, her wool scarf,
preparing her final departure,
as though to go out for the evening.
She poured myrrh, alone as her farewell
to this side and the other side
awaiting her call in peace.

And all that remains on this bank:
discarded skin, excess baggage,
as in her dissimilitude she arose
like a glint of silver across the holy water,
leaving behind this warrant-that her absence
only be measured by a word.


Bratislav Milanović
was born in 1950 in a small city called Aleksinac, in present day Serbia, a city surrounded by villages in the Morava River region near the city of Nis, Serbia's third largest city [some 300 kms south of Belgrade]. He grew up in a mining colony, Avramica, near Zaječar and Knjazevac where he finished high school. During the turbulent 1960s, he studied Yugoslavian and World Literature at the Philology Faculty at Belgrade University. He published his first poem in 1968 in the magazine Student and he helped found the Philology faculty literary magazine Znak, which occasionally still comes out. From 1974 he broadcast reviews and essays about poetry collections on the radio shows, 'Radio Belgrade Third Program Chronicle,' and 'Open Book,' as well as on TV Belgrade. He also publishes criticism in literary journals, such as Knjizevna Reč, Knjizevne Novine and others. From 1974 to 1978 he was the secretary of the Literary Youth of Serbia [a communist-era position]. He worked at Radio Belgrade from 1978 as a journalist, anchor and editor of such programs as Belgrade 202 and the First and Second programs of Radio Belgrade, which discussed literature and culture. He also discussed literature, and he anchored the cultural show '10:30' for the Belgrade One program of Radio Belgrade. As of spring 2010 he is retired.

Milanović has been a member of the Association of Writers of Serbia since 1976. In 1978, for the first time, he was elected as member of the board for International Exchange of the same association. From 1980 to l982 he edited the poetry for Knjizevne Novine, the association's literary magazine. In 2000 he became the president of the Board for International Exchange, and from January 2001 to January 2005 he was the artistic director of the annual International Meeting of the Association of Writers of Serbia. In March 2005 he was elected editor in chief of the Serbian literary magazine Relations, published in foreign languages by the association. He lived in Paris from 1989 to 1992 where his wife worked as a teacher and he organized literary events for the Serbian diaspora and studied French. Now he lives in Belgrade with his wife Verica and son Vladislav.

He has published the following poetry collections: Jelen u Prozoru [1975, Branko award], Klatno [1980, Milan Rakić award], Neman [1987, Djura Jaksić award], Balkanski Pevač [1995, Srboljub Mitić award], Vrata u Polju [1999, Prosveta award], Silazak, [2004, Rade Drainac award], Male Lampe u Tamnini [2006, Zmaj award], [Nepotreban Letopis, 2007 and [Pisma iz Prastare Budućnosti, 2009]. He has also published a novel, Potok [Nolit, Belgrade, 2001]. His poetic play Sto na Raskrsću was performed in 1995 at the memorial park amphitheatre in Kraljevo, as a play Srbija na raskrsću, directed by Dejan Mijač. Radio Belgrade in 1998 performed his radio play Vučija večera. He has published over two hundred reviews and critiques of books of contemporary Serbian and world poetry in newspapers, magazines, radio and television programs. In Kraljevo, 2009 he received the award 'Zička hrisovulja' for his contribution to contemporary Serbian literature. His work has been published abroad in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Romania, Russia, Germany and the U.S. Special selections of his poetry have been published in Poland, Hungary, Romania, the U.S. and Italy. His collection, Balkanski Pevač has been published bilingually [Serbian and Romanian] in Romania [Marafet, 2001].



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