Magic Dead of Winter

For Petr Hruška Short days of a long winter, the sun blinds you worse than in midsummer. On the white snow, dotted with raccoon pawprints, falls the dark shadow of a pine trodden down by my ski tracks from yesterday. Nearby, footprints of a deer—lively traffic—if you can see it. This is no desert, as disparaging city folks claim, it’s  []

I Find it Harder and Harder

to give a final shape to something. Not a single cup I scoop up water in, not a single jug I carry it in attains the balance between full and empty. Today I dare not do anything more than to weed the garden, rake up the words, throw them on the compost, and wait for spring to turn them over.  []

Ectopic Pregnancy

There are things known and unknown, Between them there are, they say, doors. And while I stand and wait Before one such door Between the one that exists And the one who could not be born, I realize how vulnerable human beings are: Even the unborn can kill them.   Translation: Esma Hadžiselimović

Selected poems of Milorad Pejić in Czech translation

Bosnian-Herzegovinian literature has been translated to Czech more than to any other language. However, the poetry translations are so rare that each constitutes a special cultural moment. From 1911 – when the first Czech translation of selected poems was published – until today, an entire century has passed with a mere nine poetry translations. This edition of Milorad Pejić’s poems,  []

The Sky is Dark

and the wind is driving a flock of tiny clouds, like sheep. Still, I’m not sure it will rain. You can’t rely on the sky, so I’m watering the tomatoes with extreme effort. They are starting to ripen, and I know I won’t be here to see them. I’m leaving, but I can almost feel the sweetness in the mouth  []

If You Look Back

you don’t know what you’ll step on in a dark alley, behind the school, where someone was leaving someone, where a small betrayal announced big defeats. If you take a wrong step, you’ll be blinded by a flash of memory, your ulcer bursts, your brain hemorrhages. You wonder innocently; for new illnesses you can’t see old wounds.   Translated by  []


Although it’s still summer the surrounding peaks are white with clouds of snow. The creek by the road is springing like a goat. You think, here it’s more beautiful than in heaven but that overpowering thought is relieved by a sudden shower: you seek shelter in a bower gone wild by a ruined house. In the living room, kitchen, hallway,  []


Looking for who knows what, I stumbled upon a set of silverware sunk to the bottom of the last box with things no longer needed. It does not fit in with anything in my kitchen or in my life except an old fancy of my mother regarding my future. Translated by Omer Hadžiselimović  


to balance one’s accounts, friend, for every grain in the hourglass falls in its place anyhow. What used to hurt is now foreign: it had gone by like a movie on the screen while we, munching on pumpkin seeds, sat comfortably reclined in our dreams. But when the lights came back on after the show, a heavy feeling would remain:  []


it was such a winter that swans’ webbings were getting stuck to the frozen Vltava. And they could never fly away from my memory. Just like you. In such cold – it no longer hurt nor could it heal. One needed to wait. Translated by Omer Hadžiselimović


She’d pull a blanket over her head. She’d say: Although I see buds on branches, spring will not come again. Sometimes she didn’t have enough strength even to answer the phone. I’d wait outside the door, she wouldn’t open. We’d sit in silence – she on one side, I on the other – waiting for something to happen. And it  []

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

To Dana and Anna Redford and Newman, in the famous movie from ’69. The idols of generations. And why wouldn’t they be when they look good, shoot with precision and, in the most dramatic of moments, conduct dialogue with composure? Even when wounded and surrounded they know what to do: from Bolivia they would find refuge in Australia. “There we  []

White Field

New Year’s Day. Snow overlaid the minefield. Adin Ljuca Translated by Keith Doubt

Christmas in Prague

Street lamps were burning on all sides and the decorated trees were shining bright. Petards, rockets, fireworks. The celebratory shooting made the atmosphere relaxing, almost home-like. I told her about a Dane to whom, over beer and in miserable English, I’d tried to explain why I wasn’t going home for Christmas. We pressed against each other in the cold, tiny  []

An Essay: From Nowhere with Love

When the famous 1985 New York Times Book Review polemic between Milan Kundera and Joseph Brodsky (the latter, a poet; the former, a novelist—but I like them both more as essayists) came again into my hands after several years, I let myself be seduced by the text out of habit, enchanted by the beauty of the authors’ sentences—until I eventually  []

Cinema Liberty

“Hello?” Saša answered. “Hello, it’s Adin, hello . . .” From the phone booth, I raised my voice over the clattering of a passing streetcar. “Adin, man! You’re alive? Alive, damm, you’re alive! Where are you calling from?” “From Zagreb.” “Yeah, I can hear you’re in Zagreb. How did you get out? Man, I thought you were dead. You went  []

Far, Far in the North

To Milorad Pejić You who are said to have tracked the reindeer’s scent, I couldn’t follow you. Not because, where you live, images are sharp as razors, nor because entering a warm place would dim my sight through fogged up glasses. Not for lack of strength: no one knows where it comes from nor what it is that makes him  []

Critique of Pure Reason

They taught us about the climate of Ethiopia, the sheep population of New Zealand. They taught us the area of the USSR and the countries we have borders with. When my next-door neighbor showed up wearing combat boots instead of slippers it occurred to me: the area of the USSR is subject to change as is the number of sheep  []