By Primož Čučnik.
This man on the bridge, he’s always there.
Busy trying to swindle us out of our money
as we swindled it out of various funds,
unintentionally giving it away. It’s April
all the time, every day the first. Usually
the city makes its appearance with some emergency.
An ambulance on urgent drive,
tyranny of savings in the hands of thieves,
a shot breaks the red thread,
and back to the beginning.
If this is a joke, it’s a bad one.
Plenty of empty bottles and stuffed trash cans,
meridians pierced with needles,
all loves are eternal in the zenith, painless on the negative,
mistaken. Then everyone weeps by himself,
with icy wind sweeping across his resting place,
he rolls on the bed made out of leftovers,
grabs everything the dogs haven’t taken,
drinks the water out of the admired fountain.
Half here half somewhere else in thoughts,
that’s how I live on the street, in this damned rain,
in this slush and mud, eavesdropping on the canals.
I stink, I don’t remember much, there’s black behind my nails,
I give it my all.
Tr. by Ana Pepelnik, Ana Jelnikar & Matthew Zapruder
Our folk songs
were our home. We would whistle them
while mooching in the kitchen
or sitting around after Sunday lunch.
Singing of what to love, we loved
them, gay or gloomy
takes on the world vanishing until
we finally forgot it. As we did. We didn’t
care any more about domestic fires, those songs
weren’t singing to us. But more than about ourselves
we worried about what we brought to the marketplace,
chicory and other things,
winter was hard, but not Siberian.
But truly did we love each other,
like it says in the song.
Our feasts and funerals weren’t cheap.
And when one day we went hiking again
in our mountains, the folk songs came after us.
For a second, we still had them
on the tip of our tongues, ready to sing for us
what we ourselves no longer could. Not without an effort.
We even whistled death away, anything not to grow quiet
Tr. by Ana Pepelnik & Matthew Zapruder
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Primož Čučnik was born in Ljubljana in 1971. He studied philosophy and sociology of culture at the University of Ljubljana. His first collection of poetry, Dve Zimi (Two Winters), was published in 1999 and received the Best First Collection Award. His latest books are Ritem v rôkah (Rhythm in Hands), Akordi (Chords), collaboration book Oda na manhatnski aveniji (Ode on Manhattan Avenue), Nova okna (New Windows), Sekira v medu (Selected Poems), Delo in dom (Work and Home) and Kot dar (Giftlike). His poems were anthologized in A Fine Line: New Poetry from Eastern & Central Europe and translated into many languages. He translates contemporary Polish and American poetry. He has published translations of works by Adam Wiedemann, Marcin Świetlicki, Piotr Sommer, Eugenyusz Tkaczyszyn Dycki and Miron Białoszewski as well as Frank O’Hara, Elizabeth Bishop and John Ashbery. He also writes literary criticism, essays, works as an editor of the magazine Literatura, and runs the small press Šerpa.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, October 17th, 2010.