when I was little, they made us wave little flags
at the president, our school was near celovška street, on
the strategic route from the brnik airport to ljubljana. sometimes we would also wave
foreign flags when he had a guest. now
they make us vote. to make it appear fair. the new
government is posing to the cameras. where do they find hope
to believe there’s still something left to steal. strong
gusts of wind from the hills, it’s cold and barely any snow. I’m looking
through the window at the people who’re slowly beginning to grasp
they’ve been taken for a ride, but don’t understand how this could
happen. it has flowed for years and years.
I’m dragging myself along the long empty corridors, bleak,
my legs and arms ache from the load. on and on to the big white
hall, a consecrated entrance to the consecrated country.
the line is long, ten times folded, the wardens
strict, the questions serious; they’re all little world policemen.
all americans seem like this to me. in the kindergarten, they’re
already bending over the world map, shifting
tanks, directing rockets. even if I were at the border every
week, every week they would photograph me, every week they
would take the prints of my ten fingers. where do they get lost? there,
like empty words of freedom. I’m limping onwards, the eternal
potential enemy, here and there, already decades ago
and still. we used to be taught that we need to be
on constant alert against the foe. all we learnt is
that we ourselves now vote like them, that we ourselves are becoming like this,
that we’re like americans rising into the sky and dropping
bombs. perhaps one day there’ll be a mistake and we’ll demolish
our own towns. perhaps the earth will open and
swallow us. we’re gathering on the streets and protesting against
the war. hypocrites, we who had voted for it.
on that day we were supposed to hold a meeting
for revolver at my place. I think it was towards the evening, summer.
s. had already come while the others somehow hadn’t.
then n. called. said that there were tanks on the streets. but that she would
try to push her way through like a partisan. she came much
later and told us that a war had started. the meeting was called
off. what had started has left me with
a feeling of guilt. they have divided the country
among themselves, plundered it, left a heap of dung
in grandma’s garden, chicken are fighting for worms, eagerly poking around
and cackling. cannons are heard in the distance. I wasn’t
destined to live in peace, without heartache.
I travel to get away. but in new countries there are new
cannons, soldiers, machine guns, I’m putting my hands behind my neck,
I’m lying down on the floor, I remember my protest readings
for democracy – and now this.
the hot sun of nikaragua. beneath it, yoked horses
for tourists. in a long line. if anybody by chance
takes pity on them, the first cart drives off and the horses automatically
move on. they are skinny, worn, they would hardly manage
a long trip. two are drawing a hearse, there’s a coffin behind
the glass, and behind the coffin there’s a long happy procession, trumpets
blowing jazz, they can’t be bothered, the posthumous masks,
not even the believers in a church who sing, dance,
clap their hands. the hitting of the drum beats on my head. towards
the evening, when the heat slackens a little, the birds become lively,
screaming like crazy. but nothing can bother the horses. from time to time
somebody pours water over them. from behind, the steam rises from the earth. the
night will come. they’ll drive us into wretched pens. I’ll rub
against the horse beside me and imagine he
caressed me. I won’t see him, he won’t see me, he’ll merely feel
the exhausted body beside him.
on 11/28/1973 I watched the movie
cabaret in the union cinema. I wrote its summary and
added the judgement: I don’t know
where’s the charm of this movie that won it
eight oscars. and a few months later cries and
whispers. and last tango in paris. at the time
I watched a lot of movies, attended the week of the soviet
movie, the minifest which followed the belgrade one.
but for years I was mostly making music charts.
all of my music idols were rebels of some kind.
I translated dylan’s lyrics, cut out pictures of singers
from the magazine stop and glued them into a notebook. sometimes also a pic
of a well-built young man in trunks that found its way
into the pages. we were all rebels at the time. we looked down
on marriage, we were disgusted by the image of a family
driving off in a beetle on a sunday trip. we despised
money, everything associated with it. we walked around
in shabby clothes, somewhere on the margins, looking
for tiny energies between us. until the revolution.
or contrarevolution. then the energies got lost,
the margins were tumbling down, everyone around me started
to fight for marriages, families, sunday trips with kids,
young men started to come only for money, they
didn’t touch lightly with fingers, they didn’t feel shivers,
they didn’t know what to fight for.
Translator’s Note: Revolver was a very popular gay magazine that was published in Yugoslavia/Slovenia from 1990 to 1997; the author worked as its editor.
Brane Mozetič is a Slovene poet, writer, editor and translator, born in Ljubljana in 1958. He studied Comparative literature and Literary theory at the University of Ljubljana and graduated in 1983. He works as the editor of the literary collections Aleph and Lambda at the Centre for Slovenian Literature. In 2003 he won the Jenko Award for his poetry collection Banalije (Banalities).
Barbara Jursa graduated in English Language and Comparative Literature from the University of Ljubljana, and is currently a graduate student in Literary Studies at the same university. She has also published her poetry in several Slovenian literary magazines and writes literary criticism.