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Dusan Gojkov

Dušan Gojkov

Dusan Gojkov was born in 1965 in Belgrade.
Since the mid-eighties he has published a book of short prose, five novels, a collection of literary essays and two collections of radio essays.
His works have been translated into English, French, German, Danish, Greek, Macedonian and Slovenian.
He has published prose, poetry and essays in literary magazines in his homeland and internationally, and his works have been included in eleven domestic and foreign antologies of contemporary prose.
For his fiction he has received several important awards (Laza K. Lazarevic, Annual Awar "Jazzbine", Dimitrije Mitrinovic, East-West...).
The author has directed eight radio dramas of his own, two cycles of original radio essays, various dramatisations for radio, and has directed more than a hundred works, both prose and poetry, by domestic and foreign authors. He was the author of two television documentary series.
As a journalist, he has reported for a number of South Slav papers from thirty seven countries. He was an editor on the culture desk at Radio Belgrade, Radio B92, Radio Politika, NIN, Košava, etc.
He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Balkan Literary Herald.
As a publisher, since 2009, he has published twenty four books by contemporary Balkan authors.

Les chansons tristes by Dušan Gojkov


the vernal


I know that the poplar beneath your window

is shooting

young leaves

and that the magnolias and tulips

across the road

are in blossom

yet I give your street

a wide berth

as, gods knows why,

I remember the beautiful vow

we made long ago:

“my body will wait for yours

under a rock somewhere”—


by what accident

through which torn pockets

did we ever lose

those mornings

the grey ones

the warm ones

mornings of every kind

those evenings

spent to a glass of wine

quiet music

and glances exchanged

through sunlit eyes

those nights

in which I was

calm, quiet,

curled up next to you


on the other hand

the rumors are true

I still manage

to bring a smile to a woman's face

every now and then

and some of them even venture

to my distant suburb

for no other reason

but to bring me chocolate

fruit cake

a bottle of wine

a new book

to have a cup of tea

or a different drink


”life goes on”

say the wise

but I suspect that

those pictures

which spin around me all night

and all day

that hole in my guts

that void in my heart

will not be mended by time

or modern medicine


I know

we have wasted much

deliberately or accidentally

much that we could have done

for each other instead

I know, I know


under a



I slide down Lorca street

(it is quite clear that new shoes are

long overdue)

I arrive home

feed the turtle

sit in the armchair

taking strict care not to

look at the corner of the room

where your painting gear used to stand

your easel




and things


on the table next to me are

a bottle

a glass

coffee untouched since this morning

and a vase

with those weird little yellow flowers

I can never remember the name of

which (OK, I’m ashamed)

I stole for myself last night

from the little park

across the road


I light my cigarette

gaze at nothing in particular

and let the yellow petals

quietly shed on my shoulder



other people’s memories


I remember

portobello road

where I first touched you

to draw your attention

to a beautiful façade

the passers-by

were running from the rain

the fruit-sellers

closing their stalls

I remember

the church portal

where we listened to

the warmth of silence

I remember

watching you sleep

with your lips puckered

and listening

to your deep breathing

I remember the sheet

over your hips

in a tender



I can’t remember

what your eyebrows were like

I remember

the row of trees

which cut through the vineyard

the persistent wind

and the way we walked slowly

with your hand

in the pocket of my coat


this may sound corny

but before I met you

there was really something missing

I remember

your letters


which you left on the pillow every morning

while I was still asleep

I remember

how you waited patiently

for me to finish

looking at three paintings by monet

and remember

watching you dance

to music

all alone

and our long walks

in the streets around the covent garden

I remember us

in a train

tangled together, sleeping

as we travelled

or our little room

for rich tourists

above the café de la paix

too expensive but that’s what you wanted

the square

was teeming with people

I remember

the record that played

on and on

over and over again

(tom waits, closing time, I think)

I remember

holding your hand

when you were afraid

I remember

the restaurant with the name I’ve forgotten

but which I could

still find

with my eyes closed

and our silence

stretching for hours

to a bottle of wine

hell, that was an ugly silence

and this is the book

I bought that Saturday

when I waited for you to finish at the hairdresser’s

the streets were moist

with last night’s rain

or the street washers’ efforts

it was early morning

still a bit nippy

and we went

to have coffee together

but we didn’t have coffee

because we had to shout at each other a little first

so things felt awkward afterwards

I remember you

watering the flowers

singing to them quietly

so they would grow better

and how, cheeks flushed, after work,

you downed a tumbler of cognac

to which I objected


have some respect

that’s good stuff

I remember

the spring in Greece

when you sobered me up

with olive oil and vinegar


you followed the advice

of the women in our neighbourhood

that’s how they tortured

their husbands

then came the summer

and the two of us, sunburnt,

lay prostrate in our room

with a big wet towel

across our backs

and we whispered: listen

the heat is so strong that it buzzes

at night

we sat on the terrace

nuzzling the cold chenin blanc

that’s when we discovered it

I look at your profile

as you take your shoe off

to shake out the beach sand

and at your foot


my God, what a foot that was

I remember

how you fought with the waiter

when he brought me the wrong drink

not the one I’d ordered

how we made love

with the TV on

a romantic movie blaring

I teach you my tongue

by rolling poetry off it

I see you

sitting on the edge of the bath

while I am shaving

you are massaging in face cream

the hydrating make-up base


I see you collecting dry leaves around the garden

only the beautiful ones;

they still fall out

from books long left unopened

I remember

when you went to another room

to make secret phone calls

I pretended to read the paper

the financial reports

God forgive me, I was so…

I remember

your dog

our puppy, rather

who came up to the bed every morning

and burrowed between us

I remember

The first time you left

I looked out of the window

into an empty street

into the night

there was a poster for a cowboy movie

across the road

the radiators were cold

the boiler in the bathroom



your eyes

were there as soon as I closed mine

I remember

the smell of your clothes

forgotten in the cupboard

a large cardboard box

full of photos

God, what did I do with them?

Which one of my house moves

was the end of them?

I remember

quiet evenings

you painting

and me writing

or reading in the armchair

I remember

The flowers which kept arriving

each morning

suffusing the apartment

with their oppressive smell

perhaps I should have asked

who was sending them


I remember the night sounds

your breathing

and the muffled song of the drunks

coming from below

I remember how,

when you were to go “somewhere”,

I hurried you along

so you wouldn’t be late

pretending to have no clue

and how you came back

from hospital alone

with blue


rings around your eyes

something needed saying

I know

As soon as I was away

you packed your suitcases


toiletry bags

some of the things even spilled over

into the woven basket for the market

I remember

your silence in answer to my question

I remember

my silence in answer to your silence

I remember gazing through the window

and the sound of your key on the kitchen table

and the sound of the apartment door, opening

I remember

hitting you on the face

(All my life, my hand will follow

That trajectory)

and I remember you crying

well before impact



an old man’s song


of a morning, I go out

while she’s still asleep

into the freshly washed street

still wet

I bring my dog along

her dog


of course

and we amble along

the dog and I

and no one can tell

who is walking whom

at any rate

we’re both retired


god help us

we enter the cafe

at that time


she’s still asleep

you can see the river

the glistening oil slick

we sit down and

the waiter brings my newspaper

and biscuits

for smaller pets

one glass of red

for me

mixed with water of course

(that’s how she demands it be done,


the dog goes away to pee

and poo

but comes back

as I read the obituaries

we’re done

there is no need for us

to hang around in a café

spring can be deceptive

one can still get a chill


we return and climb the staircase


(she is still asleep)

we unlock carefully

neither of us barks

off with my hat

my coat

my shoes

on with my slippers

I am watching her


the most important woman in the world

aged sixty one

I glance at the dog

he’s tired already

and over twenty himself

and I think to myself

now’s the time to make coffee

she likes her morning coffee

I go to the kitchen

and scold my right hand

with boiling water from the kettle

I remain quiet

as it’s my fault

go straight to the bathroom

and the medicine cabinet

rub my hand with herbal oil

we always have some in the house

just in case

then my wife

gets up

because the dog had squealed

and bandages my hand


you stupid old man

at seventy

you stay away from

the kitchen

I look at her

breathe in her warmth

her sleepy scent

and fall in love

all over again.



good night


good night, my ladies, good night

we’re getting close to the end

of this operetta


good night, my ladies, good night

I’m going to bed


I’ve removed the layers of makeup

applied for years


good night, my ladies, good night

if each one of you had given me

but a pebble of sadness

I would have had to hire porters by now


there’s been some joy

along the way


i hope you think so too

at least sometimes


good night, my ladies, good night

not a day has gone by

that I haven’t thought of

each one of you



each of your fragrances






your voices


the passing years have turned them

into a choir of angels


what heavenly harmony

to sing me to sleep


good night, my ladies, good night








Copyright © by Dušan Gojkov, 2007.

Translated from Serbo-Croat by Danijela Kambasković – Sawers



Desarrollado por: Asesorias Web