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Words Without Borders is an inaugural Whiting Literary Magazine Prize winner!
from the March 2017 issue

Time

Vrijeme

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.

Vrijeme

Nije kasno da pišem o vremenu.

Nije kasno da pišem sad o vremenu.

 

Moram ostaviti putokaz, jer počinje da duva jugo

u sred decembra.

Takve prilike

znaju navesti čovjeka da zavoli pogrešnu stvar

ili pogrešnu personu.

 

Veliki stanični sat ne radi već dvadeset i pet godina.

Njegove crne, rimske pruge

prijete ukočenom

preciznošću,

isto kao smrt.

Ona izgleda probirljivo, mada joj je sasvim nebitna

željeznička vreva,

u kojoj niko

zapravo

ni sa kim ne razgovara.

 

Ne gledaj na sat.

 

Između moje racionalne namjere i tvog iracionalnog

vremena,

nema ništa drugo osim vozni red.

Pročitaće ti ga grbava starica

sa tugom poljskih pjesnika.

 

Pejzaž je prekrasan!

Liči na velike ideje drugova iz djetinjstva.

Zlatne palate koje smo izmaštali,

neonske bazene, šarene porodice,

djecu od dragog kamenja...

Da ne nabrajam,

sve se vidi kroz promičuće prozore.

 

O vremenu su svi već sve rekli.

Teško da se može dogoditi štogod novo, osim još par

dirljivih redaka,

koji će uglavnom govoriti nešto isto.

 

Nema važnije Prošlosti, ni manje važne Sadašnjosti

na ekranu,

dok se naprijed može istim imenima.

U tom brlogu najteže pada sjećanje.

 

Ali vječnost nameće školski zadatak.

Upravo sad.

 

***

 

Pred tobom igra ciganska mečka,

navođena ritmičnom bukom vlasnika.

Stravična slika iz djetinjstva košta šaku sitniša,

a nekad Užas igra za džabe.

 

Ne znam kad ćeš stići.

 

Ne mogu ti obećati mnogo osim sive ulice

i strasnog mraka u martovske ide.

Proljeće uvijek donosi pregršt preživjele truleži,

nedosanjanih zimskih ljubavi

što drhte da se utope u ljetu, bijelom vinu

i mušuljama.

 

Zato ne žuri.

 

Naši gradovi nemju trgove koji nose velika imena.

To nijesu revolucionarni, krvavi pločnici,

već betonske kurve kojima imena mijenjaju

onako – kako se mijenja pohotnost vladara. 

Preko njih je ustvari najbolje preletjeti.

 

Nekoliko nedostajanja i negacija,

čisto da se bude dosljedan

neviđenim božijim čudima, odvešće te

pravo.

 

Nipošto ne skreći ni desno, niti lijevo.

Tamo,

kažu,

vlada bezmjerje...

 

***

 

Smrt je neznalica.

Ako budeš strpljiv,

mogao bi da je nadmudriš u partiji šaha,

Antoniuse.

 

Dijete je vuklo majčinu ruku,

reklo je tiho: „Eno ga neki čovjek“.

„Ne boj se sine“, prošaputala je majka,

i njen topli dah ga je ohrabrio.

 

Kroz vjekove uz sladoled od vanile!

Vidiš kako se svijet brzo potroši.

A ti idi ipak da osvojiš nju,

(smrt nije uvijek ženskog roda)

jer jedina istorija koja postoji

je između muškarca i žene.

 

***

 

Neki muzičari pjevaju o drugim gubtinicima,

i o novcu.

 

Trupa glumaca ne žuri nigdje.

Ponudiće ti mladu glumicu,

zato što si vitez i dobro izgledaš na sceni.

Ti dostojanstveno uđi u svoj lik,

oslobodi Helenu ili Dulcineu,

i uživaj slavu.

 

Na kraju ćeš ipak morati da umreš,

ali ne ide to sad...

 

Čak i kad umreš, još nekoliko narednih sati

nećemo biti sigurni u to,

zato ne brini... Na vrijeme si.

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