The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

2 Poems Published

By Goran Simic, Bosnia/Canada (Published in Issue 11)

 

 

The War is Over My Love

 

The war is over. I guess.

At least that’s what the morning paper says.

On the front page there is a picture of the factory

that until yesterday produced only flags.

It is starting to make pyjamas today.

 

On the next page there is a report on the posthumous

awarding of medals and then there are crossword puzzles

and national lottery results

in which they regret to inform that this month

again nobody won the grand prize.

 

Pharmacies work all night again,

radio plays the good old hits

and it seems as if there never was a war.

 

I enter an old clothing shop

and on the hangers I recognize my neighbours:

There,

Ivan’s coat. We used the lining for bandages.

Look,

Hasan’s shoes. Shoelaces are missing.

And Jovan’s pants. The belt is gone.

 

But where are the people?

I run along the main street

to look at myself in the shop windows

but the shop windows are smashed

and there are only naked mannequins

that will wear new pyjamas tomorrow

according to the morning paper.

 

Then I run into our apartment

and look at myself in the glass

on your picture on the wall

and I don’t care if I am not the same anymore,

the one who cried when they were taking you away.

 

You told me you would come back

my love

when the war is finally over.

 

The war is over.

At least according

to the morning paper.

 

Goran Simic was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1952 and has published short stories, plays and radio plays, and was the editor of several literary magazines. His poetry, essays and reviews have appeared in many prominent journals of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia, as well as prestigious publications such as The Times Literary Supplement, The Paris Review, and Salmagundi.After the Bosnian war of 1992-95, Goran immigrated to Canada in 1996 under the auspices of PEN Canada, and remain an active PEN member. In 1993 I initiated and was co-founder of PEN Bosnia and Herzegovina.
       Goran’s poetry has been translated into more then 12 languages,  has won several major awards and was included in several world anthologies, such as Scanning the Century (Penguin, 2000) and Banned Poetry (Index of Censorship, 1997). He now lives and works in Edmonton, Sarajevo and Toronto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Immigrant Poem

 

By Goran Simic

For Aleksandar Bukvić

 

 

We who doze in sleepy subways at dawn

and read yesterday’s newspapers on city buses

have never missed our Saturday evenings.

We meet in a bar and talk about the homeland.

 

We swallow beer greedily as if washing down the sickness

that inhabits our stomach every Monday

with the alarm-clock ringing

and the anxious face of an employer who doesn’t understand

the point of talking about homeland and politics.

 

There, springs smell of childhood,

there, mother smells of kitchen towels,

there, people have time to love.

 

We gaze at each other like conspirators

and speak in low voices.

We whisper to prevent some smart-ass

at the table next to us asking:

Why don’t you go back to your homeland

when you suffer so much here

and everything is better there.

We would then have to justify ourselves

with unpaid debts

and children who don’t want to go back,

only to drive away a terrible doubt

that obsesses us like a disease,

the doubt that perhaps

those for whom we would return

don’t live in the homeland anymore.

 

There, birds sing more beautifully,

there, passion perfumes the air,

there, men sit in bars even on Mondays.

 

We drink and talk politics

and each of our words is as precise

as the bill that arrives after the drinks.

We whisper to prevent the waitress from saying

that we could have already returned to the homeland rich

if only we had avoided our Saturday evenings

for all these years.

 

What do waiters know about nostalgia?

What does the homeland know about our sorrow?

What do Saturdays know about our Mondays?

 

We drink and talk

as if curing ourselves of a fatal illness one dies from

only on Saturdays.

We talk to prevent someone mentioning

that a hangover is as ugly

in the homeland

as here.