dreaming of three scrambled eggs

Language: Bosnian
Poet: Izet Sarajlić
Translator: Sara Nović

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dreaming of three scrambled eggs

Five poems from Izet Sarajlić’s 1993 collection Sarajevska Ratna Zbirka (Sarajevo War Journal), translated by Sara Nović

Izet “Kiko” Sarajlić (1930–2002) was born in Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina to an underage mother and a railway worker father. He moved to Sarajevo at the age of fifteen, and published his first published his first collection, “U Sustretu” (In a Meeting), at age nineteen. Sarajlić went on to become the one of the former Yugoslavia’s most renowned poets, producing over thirty books of poetry, essays, memoirs and political texts. He also served as a long-time professor at the philosophy college of the University of Sarajevo, and worked to institute Sarajevo Poetry Days, now an international book festival. The following poems are from his 1993 collection “Sarajevska Ratna Zbirka” (Sarajevo War Journal), which he wrote during the first weeks of the siege of Sarajevo.  Though he was injured during a shelling that damaged his home, he remained in the city throughout the war. Of the collection Sarajlić has been quoted as saying, “this is the only book which I can say I would have loved never to have written.”

Sara Nović studied in the MFA at Columbia University in New York City, with dual concentrations in fiction and literary translation. She is currently a teaching fellow and instructor of undergraduate writing. Her fiction is forthcoming in the 2013 Minnesota Review.

Ratovi U Našim Životima

Marko Bašić je preturio preko glave
dva balkanska i dva svjetska rata.
Ovo mu je peti.

Meni i mom pokoljenju—drugi.

A za Vladimira
s njegovih osamnaest mjeseci
u ovom trenutku mogli bi se reći
da je čak polovicu svog života
proveo u ratu.

Wars In Our Lives

Marko Bašić is in over his head
with two Balkan and two World wars.
This is his fifth.

Me and my generation—the second.

Even for Vladimir,
at eighteen months old,
in this moment one can say
half his life
has been carried out in war.

Uz (Ako Je Izašla) Moju Čileansku Knjigu

Početkom proljeća,
kako su me,
dok je Sarajevo još preko pošte
komuniciralo sa svijetom,
obavijestili njen prevodilac pjesnik Huan Oktavio Prenz
i njen izdavač, također pjesnik, Omar Lara
u čileu je trebalo da izađe
moja knjiga na španskom jeziku.

Ako je izašla
sada se možda neki čileanski čitalac pita:
Šta je s njenim autorom?

Šta je?

Sjedi u podrumu,
skuplja drva,
loži na balkonu vratu,
vodi ratni dnevnik

i sanja o kajgani s tri jaja.

An Addition (If It's Been Released) To My Chilean Book

In early spring
I was—
when Sarajevo was still communicating via mail
with the rest of the world—
informed by the translator poet Juan Octavia Prenz,
and his publisher Omar Lara, also a poet,
that the Spanish edition of my book
was going to be released in Chile.

If it was
some Chilean reader might now be asking:
What about the author?

What’s become of him?

He’s sitting in a cellar,
gathering wood,
setting fire to the balcony,
starting a war journal
and dreaming of three scrambled eggs.

U Predvečerje

Na igralištu
jedan mladić
svira na gitari
a iznad njega
prolijeće granata s Poljina.

Budući sarajevski Bulat Okudžava?

Mladiću,
samo mi ostaj živ,
a umjetnost,
koja je meni bila sve,
umjetnost je,
vjeruj mi,
sasvim nevažna!

At Dusk

On the soccer pitch
a boy
strums his guitar;
overhead
a grenade flies in from Poljina.

Could he become Sarajevo’s own Bulat Okudžava?

Young man,
just focus on staying alive.
Art,
which for me was everything once,
art is,
trust me,
totally unimportant.

Da Sve Ovo Preživim

Ziji Kafedžiću

Da sve ovo preživim
osim stihova
pomoglo mi je desetak-petnaest ljudi,
običnih,
svetih ljudi srajeva,
koje do rata jedva da sam i poznavao.

Država je također pokazala izvjesno razumijevanje
za moju nevolju,
ali kad god bih pokucao na njena vrata,
ona je bila odsutna—
ili u Ženevi
ili u Njujorku.

To Survive All This

For Zija Kafedžić

To survive all this—
besides these verses,
twelve, fifteen people have helped me,
ordinary people,
saints of Sarajevo,
that before the war I barely knew.

The State also showed a certain understanding
of my trouble,
but whenever I knocked on her door,
She was unavailable—
or in Geneva
or in New York.

Bivši Jugosloveni

Mustafi Cengicu

Svi smo mi
bivši Jugosloveni
izloženi istrebljenju
od strane bivše
jugoslovenske armije.

Former Yugoslavs

For Mustafa Cengicnek

We are
former Yugoslavs
subject to extinction
by a strain of the former
Yugoslav army.