1. Eyewitnesses by Milorad Krystanovich
2. When a Poet Dies by Natasa Knezevic, translated by Casper Sare
3. Seagulls by David Hart
4. The Seagull by Michael McKimm

Misho reading Svjedoci
in the Library Theatre, 2007
Listen to Misho reading his poem Svjedoci (Eyewitnesses) from Writers Without Borders The CD (2007).
Click here to listen to a 2.5mb mp3 file. Only use if you have broadband!
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Read the poem below in its English and Croatian versions

Eyewitnesses                                               Svjedoci

On the stairs                                                Na stepenicama porušene
of a half rebuilt house                                    i napola obnovljene kuće
the girl sits and waits.                                   djevojka sjedi, čeka.
Nearby, puddle rainwater waits too:               U vrtači nedaleko od okućnice
its cold surface bears                                     nataložena kišnica:
no late morning blossom,                               za hladnu vodu nema cvata
Everything heavy settles to the bottom.                                  kasnog aprila.

Soundless, the village cannot                        Nijemo selo ne dolazi nit odlazi
leave or arrive                                             u glasovima zamrlim
through the voices                                       iščezlim nakon oluje:
dead and disappeared after the storm.          djevojka ne smije da prozbori
                                                                   i osloni se na riječi
                                                                                 materinskog jezika.
Her shivers remain mute
within her shadow:                                       U beznadju drhti
she cannot sense the words                          da se posvjedoči šutnjom,
of her mother tongue -                                  i pticu da ne poplaši
they lean heavy on the closed                        iz zavjese sumaglice jutra
forbidden dictionary.                                     raskriljenog iznad bašte
                                                                                 žigosane vlagom.
And no bird is disturbed
inside the curtain of mist
pinned between trees and roof:
the garden is branded with damp.

Milorad Krystanovich

When a poet dies

When a poet dies,
high cypresses start to sway
and their shadows start to hum the song of autumn and rain.
Birds take wing from the shores in silence,
and wingless tears curl up
into small nests of sadness.

Our hearts start to flicker like the flame of a candle
and over its whisper we utter our prayers, letter by mournful letter ...

When a poet dies,
a black wave crashes against black shores,
plankton starts to sparkle like scattered rhymes ...
and then, like an echo,
his words start coming back
for us to insert them, like pearls,
into our own mosaics,
for us to decorate our stained-glass windows,
through which we await the coming of
the sun and the wind and the rains ...

When a poet dies,
we sense that his soul continues to live on
by the light fashioned by himself
and that, with his verses, he has sculpted
white clouds into white sails
with which to sail quietly into
the serenity of starry infinity …

Natasa Knezevic, translated by Casper Sare

For Milorad Krystanovich, June/July 2011

Here they are now, the seagull from Zadar
and the seagull from Aberystwyth
in Victoria Square in Birmingham
on the edge of the Town Hall roof.

Odakle si?
[Where are you from?)

Esgusodwch fi?
[Excuse me?]

Odakle si? Ti ne govoriš hrvatski?
[Where are you from? You don’t speak Croatian?]

Cymro. Squawk beth bynnag, cael deall ein
gilydd rhywsut mewn Cymreg-Croat-Brummie.
[Welsh. Squawk anyway, get through to
each other somehow in Cymraeg-Croat-Brummie.]

Ti znaš što trebamo ćiniti, moramo ići ravno
u dućan, i ukrasti paketić čipsa i brzo izići sa tim.
[You know what we do, we walk straight
into the shop and we steal a packet of crisps
and walk smartly off with it.]

Ie, on ‘rydym ni yn ysgubo mewn a dwyn brechdan
syth allan o law rhywun, yno ar y promenâd.
[Yes, but we zoom in and steal a sandwich
straight out of someone’s hand, right there
on the promenade.]

Inače, kako se snalaziš u Birminghamu?
[Anyway, how are you finding Birmingham?]

OK, mae’n debyg.
[OK, I suppose.]

Našao sam pileću nogu u fontani jučer.
[I found a chicken leg in the fountain yesterday.]

Rwyf i wedi dod o hyd i ddau sglodion nesaf
i’r Frenhines Victoria.
[I found two chips right next to Queen Victoria.]

U redu onda, imaj dobar dan.
[OK then, have a good day.]

Chi, hefyd.
[You, too.]

David Hart

The Seagull
for Milorad Krystanovich

We talked of seagulls, both children of the sea,
of coasts, and rocks and sand and stretching water.
Seagulls over Symphony Hall, fat bulbs of birds
pecking at the windows of the Tea Rooms.
You poured the tea. From Dalmatia you had brought
me a shell, plucked from the beach, a little amphora
cleansed by salt, years, rubbed free of sand by fingers.
‘Why are the seagulls here?’ you asked, tracing with pen
round the shell, and added, ‘They are like me.’
What I bring you in return is basalt, and a large
smooth stone from the beach at Runkerry.
Milorad, my memories are black rocks beneath bare feet,
thighs sore from dunes, the smell of hardened seaweed
and the cold cold of a squall settling in, and the seagulls,
huge full flocks of them, soaring over the house towards the hills.

Michael McKimm