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Nikola Madzirov

Nikola Madzirov (poet, essayist, translator) was born 1973 in Strumica (Macedonia). For the poetry of his latest book "Relocated stone" he received the European Hubert Burda poetry award and the most prestigious Macedonian poetry award "Miladinov Brothers". His poetry has been translated into more than twenty languages and published in collections and anthologies in Macedonia and abroad. He has participated at many international poetry festivals and has received several international awards and scholarships: International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa in US; Berlin's Tandem project; KultuKontakt scholarship in Vienna; Internationales Haus der Autoren in Graz etc.
Adam Zagajewski wrote: "Nikola Madzirov's poems are like Expressionist paintings: filled with thick, energetic streaks they seem to emerge from the imagination and to return to it right away, like night animals caught in the headlights of a car. 'We are the remnants of another age' - Nikola Madzirov succeeds in convincing us."


We'll meet one day,
like a paper boat and
a watermelon that's been cooling in the river.
The anxiety of the world will
be with us. Our palms
will eclipse the sun and we'll
approach each other holding lanterns.

One day, the wind won't
change direction.
The birch will send away leaves
into our shoes on the doorstep.
The wolves will come after
our innocence.
The butterflies will leave
their dust on our cheeks.

An old woman will tell stories
about us in the waiting room every morning.
Even what I'm saying has
been said already: we're waiting for the wind
like two flags on a border.

One day every shadow
will pass us by.


                             For Marjan K.

In the embrace on the corner you will recognize
someone's going away somewhere. It's always so.
I live between two truths
like a neon light trembling in
an empty hall. My heart collects
more and more people, since they're not here anymore.
It's always so. One fourth of our waking hours
is spent in blinking. We forget
things even before we lose them -
the calligraphy notebook, for instance.
Nothing's ever new. The bus
seat is always warm.
Last words are carried over
like oblique buckets to an ordinary summer fire.
The same will happen all over again tomorrow-
the face, before it vanishes from the photo,
will lose the wrinkles. When someone goes away
everything that's been done comes back.


One day someone will fold our blankets
and send them to the cleaners
to scrub the last grain of salt from them,
will open our letters and sort them out by date
instead of by how often they've been read.

One day someone will rearrange the room's furniture
like chessmen at the start of a new game,
will open the old shoebox
where we hoard pyjama-buttons,
not-quite-dead batteries and hunger.

One day the ache will return to our backs
from the weight of hotel room keys
and the receptionist's suspicion
as he hands over the TV remote control.

Others' pity will set out after us
like the moon after some wandering child.


Too many rises and falls
are not recorded in the books
that are burned in usual wars.
Has anyone written that crumbs
thrown from a window fall faster
than snowflakes, that waterfalls are merely
victims of their name? They write of the fall
of empires and epochs but not
of the old man who looks at a toy
dug up by a bulldozer.
Traffic-lights cannot stop time
and our uncertainty is just
a way of existence for secrets.
Fear exists in the distance
when soot splits off
from the sparks flying skywards,
but no one so far has written
a tractate on the candles' smoke
that melts into night
or on the drops of wax
that harden on our shoes;
everyone speaks of the flame
that illuminates our faces.


Something's coming out of me
thick like the smoke from extinguishing a fire,
distant like seeds hurled towards the sun.

My face is fading in the fog
on the mirror,
I stretch as a curtain stretches eternally
to touch the rug with its worn out edges.

I dream of you without telling about it,
I become non-spatial like a flag twisted
around a slanted mast.

I can call after you only through time
as it has fewer and fewer conquerors,
I would like you to come back with the butterflies
ready never to be seen.

And darkness furtively crawls into itself.

Ancient is the wish for a touch on the forehead
when no one's looking.


In the space between
the four seasons I'll find you,
when children are taken out for a walk,
and souls come back
like dirty dishes in
a workers' canteen.

We are not a religion
and nobody believes in our
holy scriptures.

Our looks hide
in the curtains' folds
which let other people's prayers through
and the falling light.

Will our angels touch
when we hug each other
in the dark, will someone light a candle
to proclaim a kingdom?

We are the light of a burnt match
which turns to dust
when touched.


I saw dreams that no one remembers
and people wailing at the wrong graves.
I saw embraces in a falling airplane
and streets with open arteries.
I saw volcanoes asleep longer than
the roots of the family tree
and a child who's not afraid of the rain.
Only it was me no one saw,
only it was me no one saw.


I lived at the edge of the town
like a streetlamp whose light bulb
no one ever replaces.
Cobwebs held the walls together,
and sweat our clasped hands.
I hid my teddy bear
in the holes in the unskillfully built stone walls
saving him from dreams.

Day and night I made the threshold come alive
returning like a bee that
always returns to the previous flower.
It was a time of peace when I left home:

the bitten apple was not bruised,
on the letter a stamp with an old abandoned house.

From birth I've migrated to quiet places
and voids have clung beneath me
like snow that doesn't know if it belongs
to the earth or to the air.

Translated by
Magdalena Horvat and Adam Reed
Peggy and Graham W. Reid


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