Tripartition for Aleksinac (1999)
by BRATISLAV MILANOVIĆ
Instead of basking in the grip of light,
this morning he lies bathed in death,
under April plum trees in bloom
between tulips blown apart by black hawks’ breath
at the end of the world, on the edge of time.
While above him years of insanity hiss by
he, in the midst of innocence, lies wounded
counting the years of bliss and years of weeping
blasted under the earth into the devil’s fire,
forever to be sown into God’s plain
so that from them a richer garden may someday spring.
And by him runs a bitter water
from someone else’s poem, as if from darkness,
bearing the shades of ancestors and the souls of the sinless
before his feet nailed to a cross
comprised of East and West,
comprised of North and South on this hillside sloping
toward the terrible emptiness.
And this, too, has been given to the poet: that he should from
under the earth
instead of Eurydice, crazed from love,
lead a city out and not look back
on his hard steps, his breath broken by fatigue.
This has been given to him:
to bring out, piece by piece, from ancient times,
uproarious laughter onto the beach, the rustling of pines
in the park, while, deep in eternity, obsessed with hope,
lovers pine; and from the antique cellars
to drag up the wreck of history, just as every spring
a home is steadfastly cleaned out.
And even more has been given to the poet: to return again
a faith in the half-dead, as though, brick by brick,
to resurrect those walls demolished by madness.
This has been given to him. Only that, bit by bit,
as they climb, he removes himself towards realms
unknown, until all that has occurred is de-sanctified.
The darkness is immense, evil arrives at night,
and in fly skeletons on bats
who plant death in this city’s gardens.
But from the geysers of the black soil bursts hope.
Every window relies on the dawn,
every rock from the lost future
awaits the day, and every magnolia bloom
opens, maternally, giving birth to the buzz of bees
lost in someone else’s gardens.
Look! The scattered city is hoisting itself from its sacred
ground, alive again, and it climbs
to the heavens, toward its children above, lifting itself.
(On Easter, April 11, 1999)
(Translated by Biljana D. Obradović and John Gery)
Bratislav Milanović was born in 1950 in Aleksinac, in present-day Serbia and grew up in a mining colony, Avramica, near Zaječar and Knjaževac where he finished high school. He studied Yugoslavian and World Literature at the Philology Faculty of Belgrade University. For the past four decades he has reviewed literary works for radio and television from Belgrade and has been a Member of the Association of Writers of Serbia since 1976, where he was the artistic director of the International Meeting of the Association of Writers of Serbia. His books of poems have been translated and published internationally, including Doors in a Meadow (Edwin Mellen Press).
The End of History
by GUSTAVO PEREIRA
Shiny metals might survive but not butterflies
plastics and rubble but not petals covered in dew
guilds of ruffians but not loners
banquets and parties but not joy
noise and din but not the melodies of morning
tables laden as never before but not the aromas
narrow-mindedness of the spirit but not compassion
edicts of power but not the secrets of conversation
one-armed bandits but not unbelievable luck
whores and vixens but not the goddesses of the night
harshness and ferocity but not revelations
integrated circuits but not the awakening of meadows
the stench but not the perspiration of lovers
stupidity and vulgarity but not the evidence of sensibility
the round and the square but not the indecipherable
dresses and jewelry but not the transparency of waters
metaphors but not poetry.
Gustavo Pereira is one of Latin America’s most prolific poets, the best-known Venezuelan poet of his generation, and a leading spirit in his country’s Bolivarian revolution; however, his work was unavailable in English until the publication of The Arrival of the Orchestra (translated by John Green, Michal Boñcza, and Eduardo Embry) by Smokestack Books in 2010. Pereira has written over 30 books exploring Venezuela’s Spanish, Indian, and revolutionary traditions. In 2008 the Caracas World Poetry Festival was dedicated to Pereira. A member of the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly, he is the author of the preamble to the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela which defines culture as a legal right.
by JAMES SCULLY
just a hard rock country band
on the side porch of a farm stand
(pass the basket,
throw in what you can)
playing for bikers in black,
hats off helmets off
the bald shaved heads, playing
for older women with undyed hair
& the younger, too, who as a rule
carry themselves well,
& for the little kids
who can’t sit still,
they’re getting into it
with no career
to cultivate or fail at,
they’re all all here
hard rockers rocking
the death of a backyard mechanic
he taught his kids
the right way to act
& how to do a job—
a drunk & a friend
& an honest man
band chanting, drumming becoming
free spirits cutting loose, shouting out
NOTHING TO GAIN!
NOTHING TO LOSE!
going off on this hard, exhilarating truth
James Scully is the author of over fifteen books of poems, translations, and essays, including the seminal essay collection Line Break: Poetry as Social Practice (Curbstone Press / Northwestern University Press, 1988/2005), and, with Robert Bagg, The Complete Plays of Sophocles: A New Translation (Harper Perennial 2012). Born in 1937 in New Haven, CT, his mother was a factory worker and his father a shipping clerk. In the 1960’s he was heavily involved in the anti-war movement in the USA. Scully and his family lived in Chile for a year in 1973. After the military coup their Santiago apartment was used as a safe house by the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria. Scully lives in Vermont with his wife, Arlene. They’ve been married since 1960 and have a son, John, and a daughter, Dierdre. Find more about his work at www.jamesscully.net.
Guest Editor: Jonathan Andersen is the author of a book of poems, Stomp and Sing (Curbstone/ Northwestern University Press, 2005) and the editor of an anthology, Seeds of Fire: Contemporary Poetry from the Other U.S.A. (Smokestack Books-UK, 2008). His essay “On the Oppositional Poetry of ‘Woodstock” appears in Gathered Light:The Poetry of Joni Mitchell (Three O’Clock Press 2013), edited by Lisa and John Sorberger, and he has forthcoming work in English Journal. On this selection of poems, he writes the following: “What these three different poets from three different continents share is an ability to go beyond the rich, narrative moment. Their poems go deep and long and wide.”
Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)
NOTE: Our regular editor, Marc Beaudin, is on vacation. Much thanks to our guest editors!
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