You are currently viewing fog pouring from my mouth
Paul Klee, Landscape with Yellow Birds, 2016.

Language: Serbian
Poet: Milena Marković
Translator: Steven & Maja Teref
Region: Serbia

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fog pouring from my mouth

Four poems by Milena Marković, translated from Serbian by Steven and Maja Teref

Milena Marković (b. 1974) is an award-winning Serbian poet, playwright, and screenwriter. She has published seven poetry collections. Her novel-in-verse Deca [Children] won the NIN Book of the Year Award, the Serbian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Her plays have been staged across Europe and in the United States.

Steven Teref is a coeditor with Aleksandar Bošković of Zenithism (1921–1927): A Yugoslav Avant-Garde Anthology (Academic Studies Press, 2023). His translations include Novica Tadić’s Assembly and Ana Ristović’s Directions for Use, which was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Best Translated Book Award, and National Translation Award.

Maja Teref‘s translations include Ana Ristović’s Directions for Use, shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Best Translated Book Award, and the National Translation Award. Her translations have appeared in The New YorkerBrooklyn Rail, and Columbia Journal. Maja teaches English at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.

Oktobar Bato

ja kad budem igrala
sve će da stane
i slikaće me
hoće i svi će
da igraju sa mnom
lišće pogotovo lišće
krvavo
noge će da budu mokre posle će da bude rakije kuvane i smeha
da bude
ja kad budem igrala
sa krvavim lišćem
bato
samo da znaš.

October

when I dance
everything will cease
they’ll take pictures of me
yes they will and everyone will
want to dance with me
leaves especially the leaves
bloody leaves
my feet will be wet
after there will be hot
rakija and laughter
so it will be
when I dance
with bloody leaves
oh yeah
just so you know.

Teška Krila

magla pala na reklame
ptice plove pa se spuste na moj krov pa pričaju
udaraju krilima
kada bi ušle te ptice
kada bi ušle
kada bi ušla ta magla
kada bi ušla
bi li me magla poklopila
i ptice oči popila
ili bi se ptica zavrzla
a magla rastočila
od mojih ptica iz ušiju
i moje magle iz ustiju.

Heavy Wings

fog fell over a billboard
birds floated then swooped onto my roof
then spoke
beat their wings
if only those birds slipped in
if they slipped in
if the fog slipped in
if it slipped in
would the fog cover me
and would the birds slurp my eyes
or would a bird choke
and the fog dissipate
from the birds pouring from my ears
from the fog pouring from my mouth.

Laka Krila

ala sam se probudila
probudila oživela
spavala sam nedeljama
spavala sam mesecima
spavala sam danima
sanjala sam zmije
sanjala sam kako skidam jednu po jednu košulju
i ne mogu da skinem
a hoću da stavim na sebe
haljinu zelenu
kao smrt u vodi
kao zmiju što sam sanjala
sanjala sam kako se valjam po hodnicima valjala se valjala
nisam se probudila
telo staro mrtvo
telo tužno pusto
ala sam se probudila
probudila oživela
jutro jedno
sneg napolju
svraka na prozoru
namignula.

Light Wings

oh, did I wake up
wake up, come alive
I slept for days
I slept for weeks
I slept for months
I dreamt of snakes
I dreamt that I pulled off one shirt after
another
but I couldn’t take them off
I wanted to put on
a green dress
like death in the water
like the snake I dreamt of
I dreamt that I rolled down hallways
rolled and rolled
I couldn’t wake up
my body—old, dead
my body—sad, desolate
oh, did I wake up
wake up, come alive
one morning
snow outside
the crow at the window
winked.

Lepota

cvet
ima li šta lepše
leptir
ima li šta lepše
ptica
mala ptica
ima li šta lepše
dete
malo dete
ima li šta lepše
ima
mali oblak što ga dete gleda i čovek što prilazi i zaklanja oblak
i dete plače
a tamo blizu kelnerica
sa modricama služi piće
a ja hrskam kožicu
prase
ima li šta lepše
od praseta.

Beauty

a flower
is there anything more beautiful
a butterfly
is there anything more beautiful
a bird
a little bird
is there anything more beautiful
a child
a small child
is there anything more beautiful
there is
a little cloud that a child gazes at and the man who
approaches and blocks out the cloud
and the child cries
nearby a bruised
waitress serves drinks
and I chew on cracklings
roast piglet
is there anything more beautiful
than roast piglet.