Poems by Zvonko Karanović: Translated by Nina Zivancevic

Dream no 1 (in a hotel room)

He was sitting clad only in his white boxer shorts

which fell to his knees on his bed in a hotel room

while speaking to his mother on a phone.

A naked woman was dancing behind him.

A voice from the receiver announced: The depth of detail

is of the utmost importance in  writing…

The voice from the receiver had only resembled his mother’s voice.

His mother knows nothing about writing, she is rather illiterate/

The voice from the receiver has continued: You simply avoid female characters,

You are fascinated by the mashines. Your father was away and travelling

When I gave birth to you.

The woman behind his back snatched the phone from his hand and ended his  conversation.

She told him: We should not write about death, we inhabit the culture of happyendings…

He closed his eyes and when he opened them again he realized that he was sitting in a luxurious

Apartment full of strippers.

The phone had rung again and he heard his mother’s voice again.

The voice over the receiver had said: The lack of boundaries is an impediment in arts.

He hung up.

Two high-heeled blondies had staggered towards him, then they wrapped his neck with the telephone cable and started suffocating him with it.

The third one had approached him as well and pressed her huge silicone breasts against his face so

That he could not breathe.

He did not start panicking though.

He did not defend himself either, and moreover he was sort of helping them suffocate

him further along.

He kept tightening that cable around his neck but he had a terrible impression that he was

Tightening some kid’s weak elastic, a sort of loose gelatine ribbon

Which could not hold…

DREAM no 6 (Where all of this would come to?)

He says: Almighty, give me strength to become what I am.

Give me strength to renounce evil forces. Give me strength not to sway

From my intentions.

He asks: Almighty, why am I so weak? Almighty, why don’t you show me the road,

And then he throws his long leather coat and hides a gun behind his belt.

His fishnet stockings get loose under his leather pants while he’s making his rounds through an insane wind and through the barrage of flying newspapers.

His hair’s net supporter slides down his leather hat while he’s chasing through the mad gigabytes

Of the  daily papers’ virtual pages.

The tasks would multiply: Censoring the inapt folks! Hitting  the disobedient! Giving scares to the uncertain!

He should not be bothered – the world has seen worse than that.

And then he goes again: the morning wake before a crucifix, shedding tears, whispering prayers,

The forlorn prayers.

And his sad face at exiting his house.

A list of people who should get busted up his pocket, a gun behind his belt, he’s off to  work, to his

File cabinet with a label „Trafic“ on it.

It feels warm inside of it, and it is dark.

The liquidations which he performs in the name of love- tend to be easy and painless.

Why would he put up with all that if not for the name of love.

A Short History of a Treason

He stood among gondolas

Like a ghost.

He was lost.

Almost unembodied.

How come he appeared all of a sudden?

And all that barks coming from the dark?

And that howling of the wind

Coming through his fist

Tightened a while ago?

Perhaps it was not him.

The one I thought of

Was a tree, a cypress

A pine tree with its pine leaves.

The one I’m thinking of

Does not like sunlight

That neon hypermarket sun.

I lowered my gaze.

I could not resist him.

My past has followed me

Surrounded with shadows.

Those which do not give up.

I saw him walking

In search of fire,

I saw him expose his chest

To the bullets shot out of future,

I saw him go to war

Followed by the clouds

Of dense black spots

These could have been poetry verses.

Just in a second

I had seen it all.

And behind the curtains

The tongues patrolled

The erogenous zones.

The green hills swishing by

From one side of carglass

To another.

Each  new Thursday

After another one.

I could not explain to him

This game of days which

Kept repeating,

The days always the same like

The others, the running hills,

The wipers, the windows, the tongues.

All of them belonged to yet

Another era.

I wrote the history

Of my love life,

To the detail, to the last vice.

Nothing remained unsaid.

And if he had read it,

I don’t think he would have felt happy about it

Just like a man with one arm

Who has suddenly got back the other one,

Like a man who’s got one ear only

And suddenly has grown yet another one.

It was a Hell of a job

To resist the descriptive.

I was exposed to an overall radiation

Of words, an incessant postponing

Of the information which

Caused the scabies of curiosity,

Then the waiting for

The present moment turning to a blast

To a mashed gruel.

Everything. Everything. Everything

Has turned against me.

I was supposed to find my way home.

I had to escape the shadows.

Had to wake up.

Then fall asleep.


Then turn blind for a second.

Then open them wide.

He had asked:

Have you really eaten the plasticine clay?

The truth is very palpable, I replied.

The truth is an incessant fire,

I said. I said what

I said to myself while

Pushing a cart full of

acetone flasks and atropine eye drops.

I passed by him

Pretending I did not

Hear him

I did not see him

I did not know him.

And what could I

Tell him? Really?

This gentleman


Is not aware of his deeds; he’s an angel.

This family is the lair of dogs.

The heaviest battle will be the one waged with our

Eyes, I read in the Holy Book.

I could not imagine that it was to take place

In front of the frozen vegetables window.

I was not able

To predict a thing.

I ate the plasticine clay,

Kept the urin samples in the refrigirator,

Scratching the tin window sill

With my fingers,

I was whispering to myself:

Long live Liberty, Fraternity and Equality!

Every Thursday

I would change the bed linen for the dolphins.

I had to leave him behind.

The years rush by

And turn everything upside down.

This much we all know.

Translated from Serbian

By Nina Zivancevic

Zvonko Karanović is a poet and fiction writer born in Niš, Serbia in 1959. His writing bears the influence of Beat literature, pop culture and Surrealism. As a writer of distinctly urban sensibilities, for many years he was an underground cult figure. He has published thirteen collections of poems and three novels. His poems have been translated into sixteen languages. His book Sleepwalkers on a Picnic will be published by Dialogos Press in Louisiana in December 2019. He lives in Belgrade and he is the editor of a publishing house, PPM. Enclave.