Nikola Madzirov









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 Reid






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






I haven’t belonged to anyone for ages

like a coin fallen from the edge of an old icon.[1]

I am scattered among the strict inheritances and vows

behind the blinds of drawn destinies.

History is the first border I have to cross,

I wait for the voice set apart from the harmony of obedience

that will report how distant I am.

I am like a bronze statue under the city square of stars

above which birds practise their anthems of hope;

I reveal myself like a feather stuck to an eggshell,

which tells of a premature departure and

heralds new life.

Every day my home

secretly changes under the world’s tent,

only childhood is like honey

that never lets anything leave a trace in it.



Translated by Peggy and Graham Reid




[1] It is usual on Balkans to put a coin at the edge of an icon as a donation












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 Brothersat 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. 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. He is one of the coordinators of the world poetry network Lyrikline.



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