Nikola Madzirov

 

 

 

SHADOWS PASS US BY

 

We’ll meet one day,

like a paper boat and

a watermelon that’s been cooling in the river.

The anxiety of the world will

be with us. Our palms

will eclipse the sun and we’ll

approach each other holding lanterns.

 

One day, the wind won’t

change direction.

The birch will send away leaves

into our shoes on the doorstep.

The wolves will come after

our innocence.

The butterflies will leave

their dust on our cheeks.

 

An old woman will tell stories

about us in the waiting room every morning.

Even what I’m saying has

been said already: we’re waiting for the wind

like two flags on a border.

 

One day every shadow

                                     will pass us by.

 

 

Translated by Magdalena Horvat

 

 

HOME

 

I lived at the edge of the town

like a streetlamp whose light bulb

no one ever replaces.

Cobwebs held the walls together,

and sweat our clasped hands.

I hid my teddy bear

in holes in crudely built stone walls

saving him from dreams.

 

Day and night I made the threshold come alive

returning like a bee that

always returns to the previous flower.

It was a time of peace when I left home:

 

the bitten apple was not bruised,

on the letter a stamp with an old abandoned house.

 

From birth I’ve migrated to quiet places

and voids have clung beneath me

like snow that doesn’t know if it belongs

to the earth or to the air.

 

 

Translated by Peggy and Graham W. Reid

 

 

BEFORE WE WERE BORN

 

The streets were asphalted

before we were born and all

the constellations were already formed.

The leaves were rotting

on the edge of the pavement,

the silver was tarnishing

on the workers’ skin,

someone’s bones were growing through

the length of the sleep.

 

Europe was uniting

before we were born and

a woman’s hair was spreading

calmly over the surface

of the sea.

 

 

Translated by Peggy and Graham W. Reid

 

 

WHEN SOMEONE GOES AWAY

EVERYTHING THAT’S BEEN DONE COMES BACK

 

                                         For Marjan K.

 

In the embrace on the corner you will recognize

someone’s going away somewhere. It’s always so.

I live between two truths

like a neon light trembling in

an empty hall. My heart collects

more and more people, since they’re not here anymore.

It’s always so. One fourth of our waking hours

were spent in blinking. We forget

things even before we lose them –

the calligraphy notebook, for instance.

Nothing’s ever new. The bus

seat is always warm.

Last words are carried over

like oblique buckets to an ordinary summer fire.

The same will happen all over again tomorrow—

the face, before it vanishes from the photo,

will lose the wrinkles. When someone goes away

everything that’s been done comes back.

 

 

Translated by Magdalena Horvat

 

 

AFTER US

 

One day someone will fold our blankets

and send them to the cleaners

to scrub the last grain of salt from them,

will open our letters and sort them out by date

instead of by how often they’ve been read.

 

One day someone will rearrange the room’s furniture

like chessmen at the start of a new game,

will open the old shoebox

where we hoard pyjama-buttons,

not-quite-dead batteries and hunger.

 

One day the ache will return to our backs

from the weight of hotel room keys

and the receptionist’s suspicion

as he hands over the TV remote control.

 

Others’ pity will set out after us

like the moon after some wandering child.

 

 

Translated by Peggy and Graham W. Reid

 

 

MANY THINGS HAPPENED

 

Many things happened

while the Earth was spinning on

God’s finger.

 

Wires released themselves

from pylons and now

they connect one love to another.

Ocean drops

deposited themselves eagerly

onto caves’ walls.

Flowers separated

from minerals and set off

following the scent.

 

From the back pocket pieces of paper

started flying all over our airy room:

irrelevant things which we’d

never do unless

they were written down.

 

 

Translated by Magdalena Horvat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________

 

Nikola Madzirov (poet, essayist, translator) was born in a family of Balkan Wars refugees in 1973 in Strumica, R. Macedonia. His poetry has been translated into thirty languages and published in collections and anthologies in Europe and Asia. For his poetry book Relocated Stone (2007) he received the Hubert Burda European poetry award for authors born in East Europe, and the most prestigious Macedonian poetry prize Miladinov Brothers at Struga Poetry Evenings. For the book Locked in the City (1999) he was given the Studentski Zbor award for the best debut, while for the collection of poems Somewhere Nowhere (1999) the Aco Karamanov prize. According to his poetry two short films were shot in Bulgaria and Croatia. The contemporary jazz composer and collaborator of Björk and Lou Reed, Oliver Lake, has composed music based on Madzirov’s poems which was performed at the Jazz-Poetry Concert in Pittsburgh in 2008.

Nikola Madzirov has participated at many international literary festivals and events in US, Latin America and Europe and has received several international awards and fellowships such as International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa in US; Literarisches Tandem in Berlin; KultuKontakt fellowship in Vienna; Internationales Haus der Autoren in Graz; Literatur Haus NÖ in Krems and Villa Waldberta in Munich. He is one of the coordinators of the world poetry network Lyrikline.

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