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Milanović, Pereira and Scully

Tripartition for Aleksinac (1999)


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

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.


Hard Rock

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

nowhere else


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





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.”


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