Excerpt: Anything Could Happen by Jana Putrle Srdic

Air Cage

All children on wheels have gotten helmets,
and trenches have been dug around the tracks
so we can’t cross them, which destroyed our
collective memory of walking on rails.

There’s a program, scribbled with yellow
chalk on a blackboard: activities in nature.
Young sparrows don’t kill themselves
when they fall out of a nest, sometimes
they just get eaten. Short but sweet.

This country isn’t right for us, we’re shaking our heads,
it rains too many days per year. All the bad
poems I read are like always having sex with the same
person, thoughts unwillingly wandering elsewhere
and yearning for something to nail them

to this moment.

The words are cut grass, calming, if you lay down,
even ants will politely avoid you.

And what are the chances that a swaying jogger
stops right above your head, eclipsing the sun
with her smoothly shaved legs?

No, this isn’t the right geographical latitude,
we’re shaking our heads, we need to stand on our
heads, stroll on the streets of Kampala, Nagpur,
Kuala Lumpur, where parrots fall from nests.

We need to shift from activities to nature.
Change our desires. The world is ripening into
a golden ball, all times are apocalyptic
and every moment now our cages will shatter.



Half a year after your death
I called home,
no one answered the phone and
suddenly I was surprised by your voice
on the answering machine.

As if the cactuses from the window shelf
had circled my bed in the morning.

As you spoke from that cube
of pink jelly

your voice
was both familiar and strange,
unusually determined like the voice
of a thirty-year-old who is never
at home and needs an answering machine

because he just came back from playing handball,
and is hurrying to go target shooting.
Just like all shooters on their way
to the range, he knows that he must stare
through the window of the bus
at the same spot, continuously,
the moon in the afternoon sky,
so in front of the target
his heart begins to beat with the black circles
until he joins them with his pulse on a dot
and pulls the trigger.

The familiar voice
of a thirty-year-old who is now on
a honeymoon to Venice with the Glen Miller casette
in the car. A women’s hat with a wide brim.
His light summer trousers (Gatsby style)
slip over his knees when he jumps up
two stairs at a time.
Stinky canals, damp walls,
pigeons, he says to her, everywhere pigeons,
at the same time as his cigarette, he leisurely
lights the smiles on negatives.

I pass by this tall slender man
in a light summer shirt who does not recognize me,
I do not exist.

I am thinking — when we erase the tape
and your voice in my head
becomes a blur I will be
a bit more porous,
my vanishing
will begin.


Dilemmas of Poets and Sculptors

Where poets seek a way into space
behind the visible world, sculptors enter
with hands, legs, hooks in the ceiling,

they bring their van loaded with bags of plaster
distracting passers-by with questions about the metal,
seducing them with the communal spirit of their work.

In the uncertainty of dissolving flesh we crave
substance, which is why sculptors are always
appreciated. They rummage through
giving solidity to spiritual places
like libraries where they lay their big
warm hands on the largest spines of monographs
thick with illustrations.

With religious patience they carry
their shining metal tools
into ever smaller spaces.

Poets still have much to say on the matter.
They love the sculptor’s tactile achievement,
glad to elude problems
of such concrete nature.

From afar they watch the group at work.

Sculptors don’t think about poets.
Every so often they look at canaries,
afraid their sculptor’s breath might press them
to the wall. Proud of being
so close to such exotic feathers.


Explorers Wonder

Things used to be simple:
if you were slow, some beast would eat you.
The quick sometimes fell off the edge.

Today I’m safely surrounded by walls of books,
most unread. Each is a new world
that opens into even more unknown
ones and makes me feel discouraged.

What remains are bananas (from a banana
plantation? Unimaginable) and water dripping
through the drains like honey on this lazy afternoon.

The wolf-dog is sprinting up the hill,
her thoughts the shape of steep slopes.
Pure surplus.

You talk to me like a jungle
that swallows a dinosaur.

I make love to you like a fireball
exploding out of a volcano when the lava bursts.
In Herzog’s documentary about Antarctica,
which doesn’t explore the complex
behavior of penguins,
but why are we there.
Where are we digging.


Published with permission from A Midsummer Night’s Press

Anything Could Happen
Jana Putrle Srdić
Translated from the Slovene by Barbara Jurša, Travis Jeppesen, Bridgette Bates & Laura Solomon
2014, A Midsummer Night’s Press
ISBN: 978-1-938334-13-9

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