Born in Ljubljana, Brane Mozetič has published twelve volumes of poetry, two novels,
and a short story colelction. He has translated numerous authors from the French
including Rimbaud, Genet, Foucault, Guibert, Dustan, Cliff, and Brossard. These poems
here are from his book, Banalities, and were translated by Elizabeta Žargi and Timothy Liu.
He arrived late, as usual. No grounds
for harmony any longer. Things had become
banal: Life, writing, all superfluous.
He lay down next to me, embraced me,
and in that moment I became aware
of a scent. Flinched, checked again,
but nothing. It was clear. I started
to heave, got up and rushed
to the bathroom. Tried to get some air
through an open window, everything
spinning. A man's scent.
The years from which I'd been running
had returned. Was it his scent?
When did it arrive? Had it been here
before? Or was it the scent of another man
on him? He didn't follow me, didn't knock,
but remained there, too far.
I shivered, locked up on the floor.
It didn't help. My stepfather's hand
shot after me, a man's hand,
my head blown off. Each time
he came near, I'd get out of the way
even if the hand was far. The scent
already enough. It was impossible
to get it out of the apartment. I would
step away from men, not liking
their world. Which one did I belong to
now? Did I give off such a scent
when hitting someone else?
How it hurts now. Shall I unlock the door,
shall I wash him? Is it possible? Shall I
bundle up somewhere else and try to fall asleep without him?
The dogs runs about the meadow as I watch.
Every so often he stops, sniffs, runs on.
Goes in circles. Sniffs around the molehills
mostly. Pokes right through them.
I'm distracted by the phone vibrating in my pocket.
I'll be there soon. What are you doing.
asks a well-known poetess. Are you reading? Writing?
It's probably nice in the park. No, no, I get flustered.
I'm watching molehills... and my dog
who's sticking his nose in them. Oh, really? I
thought you were working. Well, I'll call you when I
finish. He has now started on the largest one.
He digs furiously, sniffing. I'm too stupid
to write smart poems. I run over to him
because he's overdoing it. I shout, but he pays no
attention. I pull him back, kneel down
next to a tunnel leading to that land
of moles. He's already killed one. Behind,
someone is saving tree-bark in a panic, a tiny
mole-poet putting together his book.
He'll drag it deeper, into the earth, have it
bound and then through thousands of tunnels
it will make its way to the central mole-library
where history is already noted in millions of books.
I smile; once again my pocket's vibrating. So be it.
I get up, move away, the dog watching me, and
when I turn away, he knows that he's allowed
to destroy what remains.
Why don't I like soldiers? Because they make
children everywhere. Kill children. My best
memory of my father is of the photograph of him
in military uniform. All the rest have faded.
I have no idea where he disappeared, where he is.
I don't rememebr a single touch. Or I am
terrified by it. At the barracks we'd spend
the whole day walking here and there, cleaning our boots
hundreds of times, without question. Soldiers
always keep the peace. The same way the police
protect us. In uniform, all are somehow
equal. This bores me.
I always imagine empty heads
following a script that is
always the same. I'm afraid most people
have uniforms. Or they are close
to it. And when you once asked me
to put one on, I didn't know
you were trying to brainwash me.
And when you later told me that you
had found a copy, I understood you.
Even at a young age I wasn't any good at playing
Cowboys and Indians. I didn't understand a thing.
Afraid to pass your house. Always afraid
of you, of your expectations, your
understanding. You were stronger: outbursts,
broken plates, the time you leapt
from the car, screamed lying down in front of the tires:
Go ahead and run me over! It was horrible
under the beams of those headlights. I trembled when
you began coming home late, towards morning. Nerves
would twist under your gaze.
We'd talk for months about accepting each other,
until you had enough and demolished
me with three words. May have been spoken
on purpose, words that linger on
in my head, destroying my affairs. I'm afraid
to pass your house. Where you hammer nails
at night. Into the wall. Into my aching
skull! I would go miles
for you to stop it.
To take back those words.
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