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Tatjana Lukic

Gangway #30/31

Strong Slavic Accent




for sasa radojcic, sombor, serbia

your lines keep coming back, at dawn, when i close the door of my child’s room and walked quietly to the battlefield at my desk, and when i cross harshly my words with a blunt point pen, one by one, cut their heads with a sharp knife, swirl deep cuts through the heart of the paper, hot and cruel as all my ancestors, raging through the nonsense sketched last night, and then sit tired and sad among the corpses, a girl lost in a death field, with no water in a jar, and with no one to feed, staring at the trashed thesaurus thrown under the chair, and moving the curtains slowly: first light is dancing again in the weeping tree

and this sudden urge to cry, helpless, keeps coming back, for this sleeping world down my window does not know, and will never know how wise and beautiful whispers are coming out of your cyrillic stanzas playing in my mind

at last, there is something this world lacks, thank god, maybe you are saving us all by staying behind the gate in our backyard

if you walked away, the bridges would fall down in the danube anyway, and you would sit throughout the night, somewhere across the oceans, playing chess with your son, in panic, thinking deep, thinking hard: what is the word for this little piece you are moving across the squares, trying to trap and knock down the black king and win the game, what is the word, the bloody word for the thing in your hand?




a crater

for mtc cronin, maleny, queensland

they all read neruda, turning fourteen, rosy and tender, each monday falling in love for ever, still dreaming first kiss, saddest poem was a hit on their sticky lips, i read him too, of course, but how could i possibly love what everyone does, i was on my way, running fast out of dusty ohs and ahs, stubborn and busy looking for the guys unknown to them, always for the guys nobody else would dare to touch, and it was at that age … poetry arrived/ in search of me/ i don’t know, i don’t know where/ it came from, it was pushing me stiffly to the hidden shelves, i couldn’t fly, so what, i climbed to the top slopes, nobody ever borrowed this tome? i will, and i will fall in love with these oddballs and dudes, a moment i turned to my side of a bed, my russian lovers were shooting themselves in the head, quiet french men, holding me like a champagne glass and sucking my tongue, gazed at the time past behind my neck, my old and newborn german blokes taught me to think, think, think while laying on my back, all shady souls were watching me undressing bit by bit at the front of a window in my free lines, and penciling my first curse, and running away along breathless running lines, loony mates recorded the speed and time, the world was down there to stick a tongue out at it, nothing to rhyme or write an ode about, not a sonnet of a birdie, but a wild manifest of a roaring cat, left, but marching left, sometimes slipping down the crack on the right, between the shelves

turning fourteen for ever, here i am, racing in a late hour after songs of despairs, left on the shelf, leafing through the pages, as they are life – whisper the ladies grey and harsh, hush, life is whatever hits a soft surface of my chest, the meteorites, men and other particles, dreamed or touched, written or read, they all jab and hollow up a mine of me, a crater

i would still prefer he is a star and lights up a lamp when we circle around babies or cure our scares, but i signed it anyway, margie, the petition for a crater on mercury to be named after neruda, go there and check the link i am attaching, what do you think?

First published in Prague Literary Review, February 2004



will you understand?


squeezed into my patter
as an embryo in the womb’s water
i curl muscles and pucker up lips:
my name is
beg your pardon
thank you

it is easier to read the winds around me
than pronounce these chits

i can flee all the rages of the seas
but the cloud of my mother tongue
that follows my boat, a greedy sea-gull
will it ever leave me alone?

the only one i have, a bad penny
the alphabet stiff as a birthmark
once shiny, dainty and rich, now
a weary rug stuck to my skin, just
a puff, groan, a shivering heave
i can’t strip off my flesh

and if i could, while the storm is throwing me
to a strange strand, what else to dress in?

a moan i gasp to the wind
does not make any sense,
who will ever grasp what is behind
my silence once i reach this land?

oh mein gott! mio dio!
boze moj!
my god!
will you hear me better
when i touch the furthest shore

and understand me
with no translator
when i sigh
my lord?


© 2004 by Tatjana Lukic