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Jacket 16 — March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |    

Overland magazine feature

Lidija Cvetkovic: two poems

Return to Belgrade 2000

In this grey town, Popa’s
‘white bone among the clouds’
the buildings stand still
like shocked witnesses.
Pigeons coo in the ruins of a high rise.
Amidst dandelions and debris
a security guard dozes in the sun
in his hand a cigarette smokes itself . . .
pigeons overhead, ash in his lap.

Refugees sell Lucky Strike
and Marlboro smuggled in from Kosovo
they can smell a cop a mile off
can disappear in a blink.
They are the invisible people
they are the dirty laundry
in Milosevic’s basket piled underground
far from the hole in the wall
where he drops his bundle.

Meanwhile, in full light of public eye
Slobo’s making links
crossing bridges he’s rebuilt
bragging of progress
to visitors from the East.

Everybody’s working on an exit scheme.

In an internet café a guy with dreads
extrapolates the physics of tofu
to a blonde bombshell
who’s sipping Nescafe – the latest thing
to hit Belgrade since the air raid.
On a street corner a woman, barefoot
sings old socialist songs –
Druze Tito mi ti se kunemo
da sa tvoga puta ne skrenemo...

Nostalgia tugs at the heart of a man passing by

the heart which lies behind ‘I Love USA’
rebellious on his t-shirt,
and he drops a Deutschmark
at the altar of her feet. She kisses him
not for the Deutschmark but for paying his respects.
A red smudge brands his forehead
like once a star.

Belgrade, or Beograd: beo white grad city
‘white bone among the clouds’ from ‘Return to Belgrade’, Vasko Popa

Snow Dance

Remember this
                        photo of us
slow-dancing on
                          New Year’s eve -
Your arms slope down
                                    to rest on my
shoulders   my head
                              is level with
your breasts   the edge
                                   of my skirt whirls
at my ankles
                    and is fringed with
the same silver
                        and red of your
         dress   (breathless yet?)
though the black and
                        white doesn’t show
the thread we share
                         doesn’t show my
hair striving from
                            my shoulders to
be like yours at
                        the lower back.
You are looking
                         down towards me like
you’d said something
                                  teasingly or
tenderly   but
                     my head is turned
away to face
                    the camera.
Are they snow flakes
                                 at the window
ferries in the
                    distance   witches
shooting stars   or  
    dust on the lens.                                

Let’s say it was
                       snow   piling up
high to my waist
                           in the old year
reaching up to
                       yours by the new
to meet your black
                              hair at the edge
of that bare-back
                           dress   snow closing
us in   snow   snow
                              closing us in.
My arms enfold
                            your waist   rest in
the nest at the
                      small of your back
as you sway in
                       dance your hair laps
against me   no
                        gap between us
except for my gaze
    turned away
the shock of flash
                             open shutter
twelfth strike   too late
                                     snow and midnight
seize our embrace.

As well as writing poetry, Lidija Cvetkovic writes and performs dramatic monologues and performance pieces. Her first collection War Is Not The Season For Figs was published in the Vagabond Press Rare Objects Series in Sydney in 2001. Lidija Cvetkovic lives in Brisbane but will be spending 2002 in her native Yugoslavia.

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