:: Article

Twelve Poems

By Željko Mitić.

My Last Words

Maybe
the end
really is nigh.

In February
+ 18˚C
above me
a huge white
cloud
in the shape of a rabbit’s head
I call it
Big Heff

Last night
gets back at me
with these alcohol-induced terrors
the only thing I want to think about
is
Jenna’s
clit piercing
in the new movie
produced by the Wicked.

California
you great big crypt
on the other side of
the world,
right now the night
holds you in its arms
and
Jenna Jameson is
asleep.

 

21 Matches

“My name’s Buddy. Been dead for about 10 years.
In a very mysterious way, my spirit has come back to
earth and entered the body of this boy in order to help him
fulfill his earthly mission to be the best
drummer in the world. Don’t distract or sidetrack him
in any way, thus compromising destiny’s course.”

That was the text which, one night in May,
I wrote on a piece of paper and left on the kitchen table
so my parents would give in and buy me a set of drums.
Instead, on the very same piece of paper they wrote
that I should finish school first, and not repeat every grade.
I just knew: nobody can ruin your life so thoroughly
as your parents. They never understood anything.

I took a stroll around the flat, took a leak in the kitchen sink, and went out to the arcades.

 

Charlie Manson Came to Serbia

Charlie Manson
came to Serbia
though no one thought
it could happen

he arrived
around the same time
the Guča festival
was promoted
to an event
of national importance

though nobody invited him
Charlie Manson
came just
on time

they saw him
armed and walking
down dusty
country roads
shooting at everything that moves

inspecting the banks
of the Danube
and throwing a knife
and chunks of dismembered bodies
into the river

on the last floor
of a tall building
in the bathroom
he packed bloody remains
into plastic bags

(and later dumped them
in containers)

and this has nothing at all to do
with the fact that the Stones
played here at last
at their satanic
majesty’s request

maybe it all has to do with
politics
and transition
or maybe not

maybe some things
just have
nothing to do
with anything.

 

Subtraction

I was reading a poet
who felt sorry
for a bee
he had killed

I never met him
to ask him
if he ever repented
for what he had done

one June afternoon
just before a storm
I was on the phone
when a bee flew into the room
buzzing
and bouncing off the glass
from time to time

without hanging up
I grabbed a notepad
and on second try
plastered it against the windowpane

then from the kitchen
I took a napkin
collected the bee
wiped the stains
off the glass
crumpled it all into a ball
and threw it in the trash can

I finished my conversation
sat in an armchair
and looked out the window

I was thinking about the poet
who wrote the poem
about a bee
darting around his face
as he read the newspaper

and the creative surge
he must have felt
then.

 

Café “Time”

The asphalt tonight
is smoked glass
maybe footsteps can tell the way.
I missed it once long ago.

And again that teenage
flame catches up with me
and again that
feeling of flesh on bone.

At Time Café
where it all began
high school dreams
and slim joints made of sighs.
My gaze on the moon’s skin
makes another bloodless
groove.

Beyond the ropes
in the fiery arena
stand together
ex-girlfriends and bad prospects.
They don’t look so good
anymore.

The snow is white again
as
by the front entrance
I wait
for the light
to rise up from the dark.

Once I moved
like the wind
and now I give up.

That’s all.

 

Matriculation

The kisses on the quay
Are no longer our
Kisses
And the lips dried
By the wind
Have been healed a long time

When the spring comes
Longing is its traveling companion
And high heels pierce through
The asphalt
More mercilessly

I never went
To my prom
Because I never had one
As with each tedious occasion
I overslept it

In expectation
Of a genuine thrill
And the world which will
Change
On its own.

 

On High Cliffs

In the most incredible of places
I was seeking God
Were the final words
Of Dan Osman
A cliff-climber
Before the invisible
Glue
Was completely washed off
His palms.

 

Stereo Memories Club

Today at the market place
I bought a book
Of stereo lyrics
An old greasy shabby
Anthology of rock poetry

For years I had been seeing it
On the shelves of people
Whose book collections
Generally
Didn’t contain
More than ten volumes

Yesterday in a bar
Over a beer
After many years
I was sitting
With an old friend
A writer

We were talking about writing
And times past
In which not everything was
So gloomy

Or it was that
With every
Successive round of drinks
The reality
Looked different

Today on the balcony
Comfortably seated
I’m leafing through the low-price
Book
Singing the lyrics
Unaccompanied by music

Piled up memories
Are like books
Some irreparably good
Some irreparably bad

Sometimes
They are better
Left alone.

 

Memories Exist For Those Particular Reasons

You see
Now high-school kids
Are shooting porn clips
With their mobile phones
Of the latest generation

In toilets
Classrooms
Country houses
Passageways

When we were their age
Things were simpler for us
We had no
Money
Unless we surreptitiously
Took out a thing from the house
And sold it on the street

But all night long
We would be
Lying on the floor
In semi-darkness
Close to each other
And smoking
Staring at the ceiling

 

Neon Insomnia

All that was necessary
Was but a moment
Between two blinks
Of a neon ad
Beneath our window
So you could pronounce
What both of us
Had known for long:

This land
Will never again
Be ours.

All it had ever
Given us
Were two
Damn possibilities

To shoot ourselves
In the head
With water pistols

Or
To go ASAP

And leave it
While it’s still dreaming
Of a better future
Which will surely come.

Those were the words
I’d been expecting to hear from you
All those years
And
I held you tight
Because I didn’t know
What else to do

At night
While blood was gushing out in the ring
On TV

In Italy
Bogdan Mitic
(But not our son
Bogdan Mitic)
With a shameful decision
Lost
A match that was already won.

 

Pale, But Not Dead

Through the glass
I’m watching
The rain falling.
Only 40 more days to spend here:
It’s good—
I’ve survived the war.

The phone isn’t working
The radiator is heating perfectly
While I’m playing
With my duty gun
Watching the flies
Dying of age.

They didn’t make it.

 

Wine in a Carton

One more time
I’m having a sip from the bottle
Six Euros a piece
Too much
But it’s not a blasphemy
Like wine in a carton

I’m waiting for my wife to return
From work
While on TV
A politician
Is reading his poems
They say that
Poetry
Is what nobody understands

On another TV channel
A monk is explaining how
Women will have an issue with God
If they wear pants

In a movie
A girl
Is offering cigarettes
To a guy with a crew-cut
I don’t smoke, he says,
I have asthma
And she
Blows some smoke into his face
Probably because of some unsettled accounts

I’m thinking about
Paul Schrader
A hero
Of contradicting genres

Similar to
Soft porn
Too much sweat
Without
An obvious reason.

If we really
Like
This city
Let us
Give it
The only thing we have

Those tiny tracks
We’re leaving behind
When we finally
Set out.

 

neon_insomnia_-_cover
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Željko Mitić was born in Niš in 1976. He’s the author of Neon Insomnia (Matica Srpska, Novi Sad, 2007). His poems were published in the journals Ulaznica, Gradina, Odgovor, Tema, Ekleksographia, and Esque, and on the internet portal www.knjizevnost.org. His work was anthologized in Iz muzeja šumova, antologija novije srpske poezije 1988-2008 edited by Nenad Milošević (VBZ, Zagreb, 2010), and Eintrittskarte, ein Panorama der zeitgenössischen serbischen Lyrik, edited by Dragoslav Dedović (Drava Verlag, 2011), as well as in the anthology of south Serbian poetry Pesnički voz (Knjige vranjske, Vranje, 2010). With the American poet Ana Božičević, he prepared the anthology of contemporary New York poetry Dan kada je umrla Lejdi Gaga/The Day Lady Gaga Died (Peti talas, Niš, 2011). The poetry of Željko Mitić draws its influences from Beat poetry, and is marked by an urban, provocative, cinematic sensibility. He is the co-founder and editor of the publishing house ‘Peti talas’ (‘The Fifth Wave’). He lives in Niš.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, June 5th, 2011.