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from the March 2017 issue

Time

In this poem, Dragana Tripković careens through time and space, the lasting and the ephemeral. 

 

It is not too late to write about time
It is not too late to write right now about time.

I must leave the signpost, because the South wind starts to blow
in the middle of December.
Moments like these can make a man love the wrong thing
or the wrong person.

The big station clock hasn’t worked for twenty-five years
Its black, Roman lines
menace with stiff
precision,
just like death.
It looks choosy, even though it doesn’t care
about the crowd at the railway station
where nobody 
actually
talks to anybody else.

Don’t look at the clock.

Between my rational intention and your irrational time,
there is nothing else but the timetable.
A hunched old lady will read it for you
with the sadness of Polish poets.

The landscape is marvelous!
It seems like the big ideas of childhood friends.
Golden palaces which we made up,
neon swimming pools, colorful families,
children made of precious gems…
I won’t list them,
It can all be seen through moving windows.

Everyone has already said it all about time,
hardly anything new can happen, except a few more
touching lines,
that would mostly talk about the same thing

 

There is no more important Past, nor less important Present
on the screen,
while one can move on with the same names.
Memories are the heaviest burden in that pigsty.

But eternity gives rise to obligation.
Right now.

***

In front of you, the Gypsy’s bear is dancing
led by the rhythmic noise made by its owner.
The terrible image from your childhood cost a handful of pennies.
and sometime the Horror dances for free

I don’t know when you’re going to turn up.

I cannot promise you much but a gray street
and passionate darkness in the Ides of March.
Spring always brings a pile of survived decay,
undreamt winter loves
that shudder to melt into summer, white wine,
and mussels.

So take your time.

Our towns don’t have squares with grand names.
Those are not revolutionary, bloody pavements,
but concrete whores whose names change
just as does the lust of rulers.
It is actually best to fly over them.

A few things missed and negated,
just to be consistent
with God’s unseen miracles, will lead you
straight on.

Don’t, for anything, turn to the right or the left
There,
it is said,
infinity rules…

***

Death is ignorant,
If you are patient,
you could outwit it in a game of chess,
Antonius.

A child was tugging at his mother’s hand,
he said softly: “There’s a man over there.”
“Don’t be afraid, son,” his mother whispered,
and her warm breath encouraged him.

Through the centuries with vanilla ice cream!
See how quickly the world is spent,
but nevertheless, go and conquer her
(death is not always female),
because the only history that exists
is that between a man and a woman.

***

Some musicians sing about other losers,
and about money.

The group of actors doesn’t hurry anywhere.
They will offer you a young actress,
because you are a knight and look good on the stage.
With dignity, get into your character,
save Helen or Dulcinea,
and enjoy the glory.

In the end you will still have to die,
but that is not happening now . . .

Even when you do die, even in the next few hours,
we won’t be sure about that,
so don’t worry . . . You’re on time.

 

© Dragana Tripković. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2017 by Peter Stonelake. All rights reserved.

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