Translation Tuesday: Two Poems by Miodrag Stanisavljević

Translated by our editor-at-large Mirza Puric



Death likes pretty names.


Pelvic bones make good stirrups.

Gypsies’ cruelty to jades Madame Geneticist has always admired.

Lamp him across the gob, Joshka.

All the young Muslim girls

– the General ordered –

are to wear gowns with

V-necks down to the navel

– my victory sign.


Victory is God’s gift to the celestial people.

Those unable to deride the lives of the vanquished

aren’t even worthy of victory.



Thigh bones make good telescopes.

Death likes pretty names.


All things flow into our funnel


We have no military problems. Only linguistic.

“Liberation” or “fall”, for instance.

Or, how to describe the chatoyance of impotence,

the gushing of sand from the clenched fist

during Vileman’s war.


Champagne is popped open at the court

to celebrate a smelly – garish head – victory.

Violet necrophile, in the ruins,

presides over the first cabinet session.


Like a lizard shooting his bluish

tongue at the fly – we shall grab them,

recites the court poet.

Twenty oligarchs applaud.


Europe is wimpy, our arms sophisticated,

all things flow into our funnel

– enucleates the main Judgmentor. Indeed,

military problems we do not have, and holes

in the logic – are filled by flying groups.


The lowland madness is more frequent

but the madness of highlanders is always blood-thirsty

– opines, looking at the Vice-President,

the penner of novels, the clipper of vines.


Between two downy sentences

(“Besiege till they croak!”, “Kill them in the stairwell!”)

the arse-kissing voivode dances.

Gaudy death rushes to the television station.

(She secretly works for both propaganda headquarters.)


Indeed, we have no problems with our cohorts

and our excuses are getting more drivable.

I am a nation-builder, sings the pock-faced creature.

The winter-crop hunchback sings back. From every dishonour,

our versions of events soar, too. They shall be the seed

of a new post-war art.


All things flow into our funnel.

The instruments – reports say – have registered

terror in the abdominal muscles of those who don’t like us,

in the southern part of the city.

The flying groups are on their way…


Miodrag “Miša” Stanisavljević was a Serbian poet, critic, playwright and columnist. Language poetry was an important influence on his work, along with Russian poets such as Pasternak and Brodsky, whom he translated. He was among the first Serbian artists to broach the subject of concentration camps and other crimes during the war in Bosnia, which put him at odds with the Serbian literary establishment of the day. In the nineties, he mended furniture and made wooden trinkets which he sold to survive. He died, as Tomislav Markovic notes, “excommunicated from official Serbian literature”.

Translator Mirza PuricAsymptote Editor-at-Large (Bosnia and Herzegovina), was born in Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1979. He studied English at the University of Vienna, and has translated novels, stories, essays, and poems by Michael Köhlmeier, Chris Abani, Rabih Alameddine, George Orwell, Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn, Joan Lingard, Khaled Hosseini, Nathan Englander, Alan Warner, Agnes Owens, Bill Douglas, and others. He plays baritone guitar and Bass VI in two noise bands.