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from the March 2017 issue

Two Poems

In these two poems by Jovanka Uljarević, words conceal and convey, bind and liberate. 



The Body of Your Unrest

we spread out through cities
avoiding the fields
rarely dropping by museums

are you counting the buried places
how many are there yet to see
even their names I no longer know

screaming across the mountains
we stop by library shelves
to drink up
a gallon of high quality mustiness

in how many of them will we grow old
is there anything
that deserves your affection

do not stop me now
I have a book more valuable than the Bible
lead me to new cities

I will warm up yesterday’s solitude for you
I have learned everything
I only sometimes cut myself with silence
to find you a reason to complain

bite the spider’s web that connects us
I do not hide my words for safekeeping
chase away the interpreters of my passions
bribe the guides given to us

let the crumbs remain as curtains
of the day in which we will bathe together
wear new suits
lie in a coffin
and cover it


Vestibule of Death

this morning the ships set sail from the port
in my defense nobody will stand

in a short time I’ll be left to
the chroniclers of my nakedness

a herald will knock on your door
with news about what is yet to come
offering you enough time to be late

the waves were dying on me
vanishing in groups, steeped in their flight

my whisper reveals secrets
to conquerors from all over the world

I am spread out like the coast

beds beneath me creak
I do not choose the fetal position
lest I fall asleep

with tangled senses they will lead me
in front of buyers of misgivings
lest I ooze longing
and seduce sidewalks of awkwardness

my words no longer bind me
my words will free me
before the dark and a new crime


© Jovanka Uljarević. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2017 by Peter Stonelake. All rights reserved.

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