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Sasa Jelenković

Even before reviving my boredom I will taste
A little burning sand turned to quick-sand by the movement
of a judge's finger, the smallest, the one
most often cut in markets, along with
belts and belt-bags, in passing,
stealthily, with a crooked knife, by pickpockets and bad
humoured muleteers on a break between two caravans.

The favour and disfavour recited by the court
poet irritate the new carriers -
if I was to seek refuge on the throne, and proclaim
a ban ona erecting golden temples and exporting
rose from Egypt; if to the ground before me bowed
ghouls and blacksmiths, jailers and druids,
- they would still make me tremble in all my innocence and confusion.

And nothing will change even in the wound
resembling an eye, the all-seeing flame, amazed me,
because, suspicious, you have limited yourself to repressing
instincts and flattering vanity, and endlessly pour out
descriptions of nature such as to make the lawmakers thrilii
and the poets denounce yuo, as if you werw not a tiger until last night,
and a Saint-Bernard from the morning, my wretched language!

Translated Alison & Vladimir Kapor


The spies walked him thence and stood guard
above his head while in his sleep he walked onto the terrace;
the view spread from it out onto the palpitating city
and the emperor's palace, whence had come the letter of order
to exile. In the tavern, waiting for the sailboat,
he dipped his bitter pen into inkwell, calming his ire
with the hope that before the anchor lay among seaweed,
denials would be read at the passnger table.

Of no repute in his new surrounding,
this dandy approached the monks
who, in felt slippers,
ran inot the churchyard. And there - from bellybutton to eyebrow,
they opened their jaws wide praisnig the Lord
who is, under the gallows, not a model
for the attainability of law and justice.

And his wrong was trivial:
while teaching some infante about Dante
he had initiated her to the meaninig of love stories,
a tad indecently -
when they reached Francesca and Paolo,
having closed the door, propping themselves on the desk,
they read no more that day.

Translated Alison & Vladimir Kapor


I built a fortres, called it Patmos
or Armageddon, so that in it, I could be happy
or depressed, closer to the beggining and closer
to the ruin, an apprentice and a master, rejected
as only the lustful and the humble
can be. What illness is this, what
choises have I? Lovers are like
the unborn: they don't care about visible borders,
their warm eyes ask if the kings will return,
if they will leave
blessed ignorance or pure happiness behind.
Revalation spills over into the roar of the distant
space. The feeling of abandonment benumbs.
The fear of idleness speaks in my voice.
I follow this fine order, concord of the torrid
heat and snow-covered valley, an echo of a vaterfall
and rippling of the wheat. What was bare
is now lush and lonely.

After each death Milky Way grows a drop
bigger. The ground around the Fortress has been plowed,
the bridge erected and, in the distance, a wrapped-up figure,
like a needle, weaves into the horizon.

Translated by Tomislav Kuzmanović


Sasa Jelenković
, poet born 8th August 1964 in Zaječar.
Graduated from the University of Belgrade , Faculty of Philology; Group for Literature and Theory of Literature.
Held the post of editor for poetry in 'Knjizevna Reč' and 'Reč' and secretary of the editorial board in magazines 'Istočnik' and 'Poezija' from 1992 to 1999.
He published books: Neprijatna geometrija [1992], Ono sto ostaje [1993], Heruvimske tajne [1994], Kraljevska objasnjenja [1998], Knjiga o srcu [2002], Elpenorova pisma [2003], Elpenorovo buđenje [2004], Elpenori [2006] i Knjiga o sumnji [2010].
He received literary awards ''Maticev sal'' [for his book of poetry Neprijatna geometrija], 'Milan Rakić' [for his book Ono sto ostaje], 'Vasko Popa' [for book Knjiga o srcu], and 'DIS'' award.
Recepient of 'Borislav Pekic' stipend for 2005.
His poetry has been translated into English, German, French, Italian, Romanian, Chinese, Slovenian. His works has been published in foreign literary magazines and anthologies.
He lives and works in Zaječar as the director of the Public Library 'Svetozar Marković'.
He is a member of the Serbian PEN Centre.



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