Translation Tuesday: Four Poems by Anita Pajević

"technically speaking, you’ll clasp her to your knees. / you’ll clean her fish ponds / to make her laugh."



it morned. godded.

thin soup enspooned on the stove.

an emotion to match. an H on the access tabulations,

in lukewarm plates. like H, like morn.

i didn’t go to the Hraveyard with dad.

not even when things prayered down on him.

at times by the gravelet i scratch till i Hleed heed steed (bleed)

waters trouble up, winter rolls down grandfatherlashes

A bunny will be looking for his mum tonight

a befreckled eid morn.

interlunar azan

may even be seated on the H.

one may hang upside down from the H.

peppery sky has dad’s ribs.


*houpačka = swing (Czech).





a distorted clod of a tree

4 tins of tomato soup

(i don’t need the opener, I said)

((i robe city trees in a long eiderdown

and they all smell of mustard))

i replace the armpit. some of us the razor.

into the pulmonary night i carbonise thick blood

i sneak through open gardens

i move house brooms from doorsteps

human hair everywhere.

yet no man anywhere.

you shall kiss her ear, if i leave the instructions.

technically speaking, you’ll clasp her to your knees.

you’ll clean her fish ponds

to make her laugh

blow into delicate animal bones

through her chamisole you’ll put her breasts in order.

breasts are still breasts when you touch them.

like paroxetine.

all is quiet beyond the basement

when i recognise myself in a stranger’s house

the shrapnel no longer punches concrete holes

hard by the three-month-old sister

i don’t know…

i don’t think dad ever cried so hard.


bad souls begone

…nor do i understand

i won’t disturb.

i’ll just rub my lips on the polyclinic fence

with biopolitical soap till i erase them. with my feet.

i’ll trace the fattened figure on the oval table

and slow down an eclipsed thought


rinse, repeat


a study of sonic cancer vessels


they watch whilst we sleep

every REM phase is just an ordinary human excuse.

your eyelashes are blind.

they grow your hair. let them.

by tomorrow a trigger will make you shave your arm.

you’re hungry. your hunger is hungry.

your thoughts have been scanned, for a strange ultrasound had gone through your palm.

that’s where they read your thoughts from. some divine. you despise divinations.

biologically, medusas are immortal. and there’s a cancer growing in you.

they touch you like a toddler touches a power socket — primordial fear.

do you kiss the neck? try it, it’s been coated with toothpaste.

no additives. support local producers

the air is thin, the room narrow, their structures predictable.

on the earthen joist they melt birds from the pralines to listen to an earthly song.

to the vessels i play badly emitted sound of human voice.

stock up on it, where we’re going they talk like spoons clanking in the wind.

spacecraft oregon, portland, earthed hard in front of us.


i am a yo-yo

(for you to be well)


yesterday i cried from the smell of your hair in the eiderdown

weary of the way i smell when i get my

periodic filling of the void of the collarbone in my jumper

at the same time i ask, which part of your masculinity hurts

the one when you breathe louder than me

i don’t know how to tell you

a green spider and acorn in your hair

(so that you understand)

take some time sleep

though parents find it the wrongest

in your glove compartment i am

a shot from a ’58 neo noir film.

an immobile kitchen full of negro bonbons

it’s been precisely 11 days since i started taking st john’s wort

for depression

on an empty stomach

i’m on the screen

toss some soy on me

communicative, use protection


Anita Pajević (b. 1989) holds a degree in Croatian language and literature from the University of Mostar, Faculty of Philosophy. Her poems have appeared in Sarajevske sveske and the online magazine Nema.

Mirza Purić (b. 1979) is a translator and musician. A graduate of the University of Vienna, he has been an Editor-at-Large with Asymptote since 2014.