Seven Poems
translated by ANDREA JURJEVIĆ


T. shows me graffiti on a building wall, says that a while back someone wrote all over town: I’m begging you, don’t come back.

That’s passionate, says T. 

How do you know it’s not a message to a soccer team coach? Or a politician?

I ask. 

You think?! Nah, I don’t believe that. Though it occurred to me maybe they wrote that when Orhan Pamuk left Turkey.

We are silent for a moment, walking up Istanbul’s slopes. I still think it’s about soccer, but I don’t push it, after all this is her town, not mine.

T. seizes a step ahead and says, more to herself, Meh, that’s something between two.


T. mi pokazuje jedan grafit na zidu zgrade, priča da je prije nekog vremena netko po cijelom gradu ispisao: Preklinjem te, ne vraćaj se. 

To je strast, kaže T.

Kako znaš da nije poruka treneru nogometnog kluba? Ili političaru?


Misliš?! Ma nije, ne vjerujem. Ali palo mi je napamet da su to možda napisali Orhanu Pamuku kad je bio otišao iz Turske.

Malo šutimo i hodamo istanbulskim ulicama. Ja i dalje mislim da se radi o nogometu, ali ne upirem, ipak je ovo njen, a ne moj grad. 

T. grabi ispred mene i više za sebe kaže: Ma to ti je nešto između dvoje.  

Orhan Veli Kanık

In the morning it is the soft saxophone from the terrace of the nearby bar, up here on the top floor; gulls, other birds, and the recurring sound of a ship whistle from the Golden Horn, street construction, at times, fragments of conversations from the outdoor steps, foreign tongue. The otherworldly voice from the minaret backs the group murmur from the mosque, and later, they call out screaming, from the side streets, tiny cats, sweet from up close and small-headed, then Eastern rhythms, a singer with her sad voice, fish and spice vendors, performers with instruments I can’t name. On İstiklal Street, an old man sings and slowly dies, his grandson holds a microphone for him. I don’t hear the tram bell, and some youth with big white teeth, practically a child, pushes me away from the tracks. His friends laugh happily when I say: you saved my life. Taxi drivers, waiters, shopkeepers jump out of their boxes, offer everything for a few lira: madam, lady, take your sunglasses off, lady, let me see your eyes. People and dogs and cars, the roar of spectators. And the heart full of blood hammers in the ears, the ear that blinks like an eye: the city is a DJ and has at least 50 million hands that turn tables on gold-plated counters, on butchers’ counters, on shop counters, holy counters and at least 50 million human, dog, cat, rubber legs, legs that dance as if it’s burning under their feet and paws, as if the ground is escaping from underneath, as if all this escapes reason. 

Orhan Veli Kanik

Ujutro to je tihi saksofon s terase obližnjeg bara, ovdje gore na najvišem katu; galebovi, druge ptice, i čest zvuk brodske trube sa Zlatnog roga, ulični radovi, povremeno fragmenti razgovora sa stubišta, tuđi jezik. Nadljudski glas s minareta prati grupni mrmor iz džamije, a kasnije jave se vrišteći, sa sokaka, sitne mačke, izbliza umiljate i malenih glava, pa istočnjački ritmovi, pjevačica tužnog glasa, prodavači ribe i začina, performeri s instrumentima kojima ne znam nazive. Na ulici Istiklal jedan starac pjeva i umire, unuk mu pridržava mikrofon. Ne čujem zvono tramvaja i neki mladić s velikim bijelim zubima, skoro dijete, miče me s tračnica. Njegovi prijatelji se veselo smiju kad kažem: spasio si mi život. Taksisti, konobari i trgovci iskaču iz svojih kutija, nude sve za nekoliko lira: madam, lejdi, skinite naočale lejdi, da vam vidim oči. Ljudi i psi i automobili, buka navijača. I srce puno krvi koje nabija u ušima, uho koje trepće kao oko: grad je DJ i ima barem 50 milijuna ruku kojima vrti ploče na pozlaćenim pultovima, na mesarskim pultovima, svetim pultovima, na trgovačkim pultovima, na svetim pultovima i barem 50 milijuna ljudskih, psećih, mačjih, gumenih nogu, nogu koje plešu ko da im gori pod stopalima i šapama, kao da se tlo izmiče, kao da sve to izmiče razumu.


The calm cemetery above Eyup and the walkway between targets. This place is not about death as some frightening and mystical land. 

Here, boys in white capes and polished shoes walk down wide steps, hold onto their little miraculous hats. The graveyard stairs lead up to Pierre Loti Hill like arrows: they pass beside old and new deaths straight through life. And today we are with them on an endless walk.  

There’s a little French café at the top: that’s where Pierre Loti lived, a writer who loved Istanbul: he gave them love and its flattery, and they reciprocated with a hill.

Women in long beige frocks and silk scarves stroll with babies. Women in long beige frocks and silk scarves smoke narghiles. 

I’m looking for boys in prince outfits and find them down on the square. They’re proud, and they shine. Even more handsome than before. They perform. Today is circumcision day.

A father approaches me and, with a smile, offers me a piece of lokum. If I take it, maybe he gets into heaven. 


Bezbrižno groblje poviše Ejupa sa šetnicom izmešu nišana. Tu se ne radi o smrti kao o strašnoj i mističnoj zemlji. 

Tu su dječaci u bijelim plaštevima i blistavim cipelama koji se spuštaju niz široke stube, pridržavajući čudesne kapice. Stepenice kroz groblje penju se na brdo Pierre Loti kao strijele: prolaze posred starih i novijih smrti ravno kroz život. I mi smo s njima danas u beskrajnoj šetnji. 

Gore na vrhu mala je kavana u francuskom stilu: tamo je živio Pierre Loti pisac koji je volio Istanbul: dao im je ljubav i njena laskanja, i onu su mu uzvratili brdom. 

Žene u dugim bež mantilima i svilenim marama šetaju bebe. Žene u dugim bež mantilima i svilenim maramama puše nargile. 

Tražim dječake u prinčevskim odijelima i nalazi ih dolje na trgu. Ponosni su i svjetlucaju. Jako su se proljepšali. Oni nastupaju. Danas je dan sunećenja. 

Jedan otac mi prilazi i s osmijehom nudi lokum. Ako ga uzmem možda će stići u raj. 


Down a colorful street across from Beşiktaş, I set out to Ortaköy. 

Ortaköy is an unreal place, but no one mentions the three hours of intent walking. Relations are different here. 

Millions of women pass along this street, not one has a hat.

Fishermen in the harbor, taxi drivers in taxis, believers before the mosque, guards with guns, girls by the fountain – some foreign lady underneath a wide-brimmed hat. 

Going back however, not to be crazy, I catch the bus to Taksim, the driver says: a lira and some change. We’ve gotten stuck in one of the three endless lines of cars, it seems, and yet no one curses another’s mother, passengers follow things through the window. I stare at them (perhaps they know something), they at me (under the brim). Half an hour doesn’t mean much. They are different, there is a point, relations.

And in Taksim, a million women, but not one has a hat. 


Šarenom cestom preko Bešiktaša, zaputila sam se u Ortakoj.

Taj Ortakoj je nestvarno mjesto, ali tri sata angažiranog hoda—to ne spominje nitko. Drugačije su ovdje relacije. 

Uz cestu prolazi milijum žena, a nijedna šešir nema. 

Ribari u luci, taksisti u taksijima, vjernici pred džamijom, čuvari s puškama, djevojčice kraj česme: neka strankinja pod širokim obodom. 

Za natrag ipak, ne budi luda, hvatam autobus do Taksima, kondukter kaže: lira i nešto sitno. Čini mi se baš smo zaglavili u jednoj od tri beskrajne kolone, a nitko nikome ne psuje mater, putnici prate stvari kroz prozor. Zirkam u njih (možda nešto znaju), oni u mene (pod obodom). Pola sata ne znači puno. Dragačije su, ima bit, relacije. 

A na Taksimu milijun žena, ali nijedna šešir nema.  


I didn’t die in the earthquake and wasn’t killed by the bomb that yesterday, because of the election campaigns, exploded in Istanbul. I know the papers don’t bring news about the ratio of turquoise to purple in this city, because who’d care about something like that, those concerns are for housewives. Death is news, and as for the living, things of a political nature are. 

Darling, you forgot, back home we survived fear from both sides of the crosshairs. 

The injustice that flesh brings, experience says, has to stop eventually.

The butchers will be behind bars, the ground that trembles will grow calm, but the deep satisfaction that we call justice won’t come. Still: there are many pleasures, that’s what’s worth focusing on. 

The only fear that I’ll keep is a sudden interruption, some idiotic catastrophe, that will prevent me from grasping your hands, and those other little ones that used to greet me, unfinished as I was, combed my hair, and kept pulling me outside.

Not today nor tomorrow, for the whole of humanity, any way you look at it, there’s no more important news in the world than that just yesterday in Split, you taught our little girl how to ride a bike.


Nisam poginula u potresu i nije me ubila bomba koja je jučer, zbog predizborne kampanje, eksplodirala u Istanbulu. Znam da novine ne donose vijesti o omjeru tirkiza i purpura u ovom gradu, jer koga bi takvo što zanimalo, to su stvari za domaćice. Smrt je vijest, a od živih stvari one političke naravi. 

Dragi, ti si zaboravio, preživjeli smo strah s obje strane nišana, bilo je to doma. 

Nepravda koju nam donosi tijelo, kaže iskustvo, mora jednom prestati. 

Svi krvnici će iza brave, umirit će se tlo koje podrhtava, ali zadovoljština koju nazivamo pravdom neće doći. Ipak: postoje mnoga zadovoljstva, na to se isplati koncentrirati. 

Jedini strah koji ću zadržati je onaj da će me iznenadni prekid programa, neka idiotska katastrofa, spriječiti da zgrabim tvoje ruke, i one druge sitne, koje su me dočekivale nespremnu, češljale i uporno gurale na zrak. 

Ni danas ni sutra za čitavo čovječanstvo, kako god okreneš, ne postoji važnija vijest na svijetu od te da si našu malu, baš jučer, u Splitu, naučio voziti bicikl. 


I’ve got four rooms in Galata, ten windows, eight chairs.

Exactly three rooms are always empty, nine windows, seven chairs.

I’ve also got a balcony, and in any city the view on Bairro Alto is the same. On that balcony, in any city, you peep over the rail, by your shoulder stands a woman with a bob cut, blabbers and draws smoke from a narghile.

You don’t pay attention, look downhill, down the street with drums for sale. On the street a man sings a refrain that goes something like: to die before death isn’t the hardest thing, it’s to want to come to life after that, it’s hardest to want to come to life after that. 

Today is sunny and Sunday: people and cats find pleasure in their skin. Cats watch birds. Birds take off from the square to the balcony. On the balcony, you turn towards me, deep in the background, in the dream: in one of the four rooms I sit on one of the eight chairs by one of the ten windows. You say: Wake up, we’ve got to go down. Finally go down to Listanbon. 


Četiri sobe imam na Galati, deset prozora, osam stolaca. 

Bar tri sobe su uvijek prazne, devet prozora, sedam stolaca.

Imam i balkon, u bilo kojem gradu pogled je isti na Bairo Alto. Na tom balkonu, u bilo kojem gradu, ti se nadviruješ preko ograde, do tvog ramena stoji visoka žena s bob frizurom, brblja i uvlači dim iz nargile. 

Ne slušaš pažjivo, gledaš nizbrdo, niz ulicu u kojoj prodaju bubnjeve. Na ulici čovjek pjeva refren koji glasi, otprilike: nije najteže umrijeti prije smrt, najteže je htjeti oživjeti iza tog, najteže je htjeti oživjeti iza tog. 

Dan je sunčan i nedjelja: ljudi i mačke uživaju u svojoj koži. Mačke promatraju ptice. Na balkonu ti se okrećeš prema meni, duboko u pozadini, u snu: u jednoj od četiri sobe sjedim na jednom od osam stolaca pokraj jednog of deset prozora. Ti kažeš: Probudi se, moramo sići dolje. Napokon sići u Listanbon. 


Coffee and water. News scanned quickly, hanging the wet laundry, shopping. I like routine, it has a rhythm.

Regular life is a pleasant day with no fables. 

I spread apart the curtains, and it’s as if I’m with the first guests on the restaurant rooftop, as if we’re eating on the same terrace. 

Passing by, I tap the dirty glass for the dove on the drainpipe and set down some bread. The walks are long, and I always bring something new to the apartment, things I’ll write down and in that way keep; a book or a bootleg Turkish movie with English subtitles, and groceries.

Then: photos of passersby, because people in the city are what water is in nature. 

A foreign woman is sometimes comforted even by the smiles of vendors (yes, that’s strangers embracing).

When the city pauses and the terraces are cleared, and the night is filled with white birds, I open the windows, count the beats of wings. I like routine, rhythm. 


Kava i voda. Vijesti pregledane na brzinu, vješanje mokrog rublja, odlazak u trgovinu. Volim rutinu, ima ritam.

Standardan život je ugodan dan bez fabule. 

Razmičem zavjese i već sam blizu prvim gostima na vrhu restorana, izgleda kao da doručkujemo na istoj terasi. 

U prolazu kucnem na prljavo staklo grlici na odvodnim ciijevima i spustim joj kruh. Šetnje su duge i u stan uvijek donesem nešto novo, stvari koje ću zapisati i tako zadržati; knjigu ili presnimljen turski film s engleskim titlom, i namirnice. 

Zatim: fotografije prolaznika, jer u gradu su ljudi ono što je u prirodi voda. 

Strankinju ponekad tješe i osmjesi trgovaca (da to su zagrljaji među nepoznatim ljudima). 

Kada grad predahne i terase se isprazne, a noć ispuni bijelim pticama, širim prozore, brojim udarce krila. Volim rutinu, ritam. 

​OLJA SAVIČEVIĆ IVANČEVIĆ is a Croatian author whose work has been translated into German, Czech, Italian, Spanish, French, Macedonian, Polish, Ukranian, Lithuanian, and Zulu, among other languages. Her collections of poetry include: It Will Be Tremendous When I Grow Up (1988); Eternal Kids (1993); Female Manuscripts (1999); Puzzlerojc (2005); House Rules (2007), winner of the prestigious Croatian award Kiklop; and Mamasafari (2012). Her collection of short stories, To Make A Dog Laugh (2006), and her novel, Adios, Cowboy (2010), won several Croatian literary awards. Adios, Cowboy is forthcoming in English by McSweeney’s in 2015.

ANDREA JURJEVIĆ is a native of Croatia. Her poems have appeared in The Journal, Harpur Palate, Raleigh Review, Best New Poets, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere; her translations are forthcoming in Lunch Ticket and RHINO. She is the winner of the 2013 Robinson Jeffers Tor Prize and the 2014 Der-Hovanessian Translation Award.

The Adirondack Review