:: Article

Five Poems

By Nikola Madzirov.

Shadows Pass Us By

We’ll meet one day,
like a paper boat and
a watermelon that’s been cooling in the river.
The anxiety of the world will
be with us. Our palms
will eclipse the sun and we’ll
approach each other holding lanterns.

One day, the wind won’t
change direction.
The birch will send away leaves
into our shoes on the doorstep.
The wolves will come after
our innocence.
The butterflies will leave
their dust on our cheeks.

An old woman will tell stories
about us in the waiting room every morning.
Even what I’m saying has
been said already: we’re waiting for the wind
like two flags on a border.

One day every shadow
will pass us by.

 

Before We Were Born

The streets were asphalted
before we were born and all
the constellations were already formed.
The leaves were rotting
on the edge of the pavement,
the silver was tarnishing
on the workers’ skin,
someone’s bones were growing through
the length of the sleep.

Europe was uniting
before we were born and
a woman’s hair was spreading
calmly over the surface
of the sea.

 

Separated

I separated myself from each truth about the beginnings
of rivers, trees, and cities.
I have a name that will be a street of goodbyes
and a heart that appears on X-ray films.
I separated myself even from you, mother of all skies
and carefree houses.
Now my blood is a refugee that belongs
to several souls and open wounds.
My god lives in the phosphorous of a match,
in the ashes holding the shape of the firewood.
I don’t need a map of the world when I fall asleep.
Now the shadow of a stalk of wheat covers my hope,
and my word is as valuable
as an old family watch that doesn’t keep time.
I separated from myself, to arrive at your skin
smelling of honey and wind, at your name
signifying restlessness that calms me down,
opening the doors to the cities in which I sleep,
but don’t live.
I separated myself from the air, the water, the fire.
The earth I was made from
is built into my home.

 

Home

I lived at the edge of the town
like a streetlamp whose light bulb
no one ever replaces.
Cobwebs held the walls together,
and sweat our clasped hands.
I hid my teddy bear
in holes in crudely built stone walls
saving him from dreams.

Day and night I made the threshold come alive
returning like a bee that
always returns to the previous flower.
It was a time of peace when I left home:

the bitten apple was not bruised,
on the letter a stamp with an old abandoned house.

From birth I’ve migrated to quiet places
and voids have clung beneath me
like snow that doesn’t know if it belongs
to the earth or to the air.

 

Fast Is The Century

Fast is the century. If I were wind
I would have peeled the bark off the trees
and the facades off the buildings in the outskirts.

If I were gold, I would have been hidden in cellars,
into crumbly earth and among broken toys,
I would have been forgotten by the fathers,
and their sons would remember me forever.

If I were a dog, I wouldn’t have been afraid of
refugees, if I were a moon
I wouldn’t have been scared of executions.

If I wеre a wall clock
I would have covered the cracks on the wall.

Fast is the century. We survive the weak earthquakes
watching towards the sky, yet not towards the ground.
We open the windows to let in the air
of the places we have never been.
Wars don’t exist,
since someone wounds our heart every day.
Fast is the century.
Faster than the word.
If I were dead, everyone would have believed me
when I kept silent.

 

Translated by Peggy and Graham W. Reid,
Magdalena Horvat and Adam Reed.

Taken from the book Remnants of Another Age published by BOA Editions in the US, 2011.

 

nikola_madzirov_-_photo_taken_by_gezettde1
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nikola Madzirov (poet, essayist, translator) is one of the most powerful voices of the new European poetry. He was born in a family of Balkan Wars refugees in 1973 in Strumica, R. Macedonia. His poetry has been translated into thirty languages and published in collections and anthologies in US, Europe and Asia. For his poetry book Relocated Stone (2007) he received the Hubert Burda European poetry award for authors born in East Europe (the jury was chaired by Peter Handke and Michael Krüger), and the most prestigious Macedonian poetry prize Miladinov Brothers at Struga Poetry Evenings. For the book Locked in the City (1999) he was given the Studentski Zbor award for the best debut, while for the collection of poems Somewhere Nowhere (1999) the Aco Karamanov prize. From his poetry, two short films were shot in Bulgaria and Croatia. The contemporary jazz composer and collaborator of Björk and Lou Reed, Oliver Lake, has composed music based on Madzirov’s poems which was performed at the Jazz-Poetry Concert in Pittsburgh in 2008.

Nikola Madzirov has participated at many international literary festivals and events in the US, Latin America and Europe and has received several international awards and fellowships such as International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa in US; Literarisches Tandem in Berlin; KultuKontakt fellowship in Vienna; Internationales Haus der Autoren in Graz; Literatur Haus NÖ in Krems and Villa Waldberta in Munich. He is one of the coordinators of the world poetry network Lyrikline.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, April 24th, 2011.