Hung on a cloud, the cloak of the Tongariro
volcano is clasped at the neck with a single
round button: Blue Lake. At the bottom
of the lake, at the height of the heart, a time
bomb is ticking. We try not to think, we try
not to know, but its veins like prickly goose
bumps are crawling up our spines and are

In the blue lake at the top of the Tongariro
volcano there is nothing to eat, nothing but
stone. This is known to the strange long-necked
birds, but they still, on their way across the ocean,
alight on them. Flying high, they have outlived
their enemies and are now resting on the waves
like on a seesaw.

We, too, you and I, are strange long-necked
birds who have outlived all their enemies.
Coming from afar, we set down our backpacks
and wade into the dead water of the Tongariro
volcano. We are resting from our courage.

Milorad Pejić was born in Tuzla, Bosnia, in 1960. Since 1992 he has lived in Sweden. His books of poems include The Vase for the Lily Plant (1985), The Eyes of Keyholes (2001, 2012), and Hyperborea (2011, 2013), for which he received the “Slovo Makovo-Mak Dizdar” prize in Bosnia in 2012. The Eyes of Keyholes will be published in English in the United States by Červena Barva Press in 2014.

Omer Hadžiselimović, formerly a professor at the University of Sarajevo, is now an adjunct professor of English at Loyola University Chicago and at North Park University, Chicago. He has published works in American studies, English literature, and travel writing. In recent years he has been translating poetry from Bosnian into English and from English into Bosnian, published in various venues.

Feature image by Jonathan Apgar. Open Glade, 2012.

At Guernica, we’ve spent the last 15 years producing uncompromising journalism.

More than 80% of our finances come from readers like you. And we’re constantly working to produce a magazine that deserves you—a magazine that is a platform for ideas fostering justice, equality, and civic action.

If you value Guernica’s role in this era of obfuscation, please donate.

Help us stay in the fight by giving here.