:: Article

Excerpt: C(o)urt Interpretations

By Aleš Mustar
Trans. from the Slovenian by Manja Maksimovič

From the collection C(o)urt Interpretations, forthcoming from BLATT Books


Since a brief review of world literature is running
through my mind, chockfull of academic junk,
I’m battling with an internal struggle –
postmodern frailty versus lyrical ejaculation.
It’s a tie.
In my mind, I kiss my brothers, literary freemasons, on the forehead.
Greetings, Beckett, who art my brother, let me kiss your forehead, brother,
greetings, Ionesco, who art my brother, let me kiss your forehead, brother,
and so on and so forth…
Brothers, your legacy is flowing through my work,
even though I’ve never asked for it,
nor have I posthumously sued you for a statutory share.
An overload causes my internal organs to fall ill,
just as state organs are calling me to duty.
In Srebrenica, rotten corpses are being dug out again.
There’s nothing left of them or after them,
legacy doesn’t make any sense.
Only wandering souls are screaming again in a deserted house in a nearby village.
No one can stop the screaming, not the police nor the firemen nor the Muslim priest.
I turn off the TV and start to compile a response to the lawsuit
which my relatives, the vultures, dissatisfied with the quantity of legacy,
filed after Grandma died.
Blood is water.
I shall give answers to my attorney in an utterly silent voice
so that Grandma can’t hear us
and won’t feel the need to haunt us, having toiled enough during her lifetime.
And us two, my dear,
to whom shall we pass on the fruits of our labor?
Shall we turn sterile in the name of art?
Come, let me kiss you
so that our lives can become in medias res poetry.

November 1st

The city and the buses reek of greenery.
Personifying the love of the dead,
chrysanthemums have lost all charm.
In graveyards, new coats,
meticulously groomed hairstyles,
new gravel,
candles that burn for a week.
An ikebana contest is next:
neighbors, look how much we loved them!
A few days before All Saints’ Day
Grandma is going on her last journey –
to Grandpa.
Will they reunite at the right time,
instilling some sense into the absurd holiday?
On the tombstone, Grandpa’s name is carved in gold.
It’s only proper that Grandma also gets letters like that,
a poor consolation in the moments of terror right before death.
Farewell, Granny,
you know I’m not a vulture
but when I’m in the neighborhood –
not on a holiday like this, that’s for sure,
when it’s on I lock myself behind three locks in the apartment –
I’ll come by, I promise,
but with no candles or chrysanthemums, of course.

Holiday Poem

After having successfully traded
Pizzeria Triglav for Pizzeria Napoli
and Istria for South Dalmatia,
we are strolling hand in hand
through a national park.
Despite all the splendors of nature,
my fingers aren’t reaching for a ball-point pen.
Instead, with a Tarzan-like strength,
I’m defending the big city girl from nature’s wonders.
The heavenly calm is shattered by yodelling compatriots on an office outing
who, after just a couple of beers, are warbling Dalmatian songs like nightingales.
Among the fir needles,
a heroin needle glistens.

Aleš Mustar
was born in 1968 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He studied English and Pedagogy at the University of Ljubljana, and has a PhD in Romanian literature from the University of Bucharest, Romania. Mustar is freelance poet and translator, rendering Romanian and Macedonian literature into Slovenian. During the day, Mustar wins his bread as a court interpreter. This “double life” provides the poet with an excellent opportunity – he does not need to search for inspiration in remote places, as interesting themes and (anti-)heroes reach him in the court room everyday. Mustar’s poems have been published in all the most important Slovenian literary magazines, and have been translated into Czech, Serbian, Polish, Macedonian, English, and Romanian. His debut collection, C(o)urt Interpretations, was nominated for the top Slovenian poetry prize in 2005. In addition to his poetic output, Mustar has also written several plays which have been staged in Slovenia.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, October 13th, 2007.