A two-legged bag
stops me on the street
and asks me
what I’m carrying
under my arm
carrying carrying carrying
Poor us, we are all kings
when we gaze at the starry sky.
The noise of the crowd grows faint
on the town square and in our blood.
The voice will re-enter the angel’s trumpet.
Once again hell will rise on its feet.
I dream how on a flat surface
I set down knives of various
shapes and sizes.
Already there are so many of them
I can’t count them,
or see them all. Someone’s being done in
by one of those knives.
Novica Tadic was born in 1949 and has lived most of his life in Belgrade. He is the author of many celebrated collections, including The Object of Ridicule, Monster, and Dark Things. His writing has received almost every major Serbian literary award.
Charles Simic served as Poet Laureate of the United States in 2007-2008. His Walking the Black Cat (1996) was a finalist for the National Book Award, and The World Doesn’t End (1990) captured the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. These translations are from Dark Things (BOA, 2009).