Poetry, translation

My Locked Father and other poems

by Boris Domagoj Biletić


(Moj zaključani otac)

I dropped a flower on my father’s trembling soul
He sleeps in the scents, in the colours of his homescape

Father, I am a town after the quake, a town that germinates
Father, I am the quake returning to the bowels of the land
Your home and distant mother’s, herself torn
From our embrace at her last wish

The stagnant water of the previous mourner awaited me
Cha-saying place of my childhood empty, Oliver,
No one to know me in the shallow hurry to the grave

But you, man, you are locked, closed, you went wordless
The other side of the mystery, the riddle, with no lies at last

And what can I do now – lament of the living
A wretched picture of your and her condition
Already stooped I take refuge in the hope that you’re at one
Safekeeping a tribe with no strength, with no Sign

From eternity my father takes the flower, takes the bunch
For himself, for her, for us still living, quivery, faded

From space glow continents, planets, galaxies
Of quenched cities that survivors build, nameless
Across the sea, across the world our sleepers live
Live beyond the ocean – while the word’s a raft, boat, ship

Below us sunk in the earthquake cities pulsing
Warm places the keys to which God himself has not.

(trad. Graham McMaster, “The Bridge”, Zagreb, 2004.) 




(Pusto Kvarnersko more)

The dust has settled on her eyelashes
The backdrop of my story veils a view of serenity
The whole bulk cargo of a ludicrous life
Adumbrations of my life scattered on the rocks

The ancient habitat rings with children’s voices
In defiant departure for the night, Like a vow to the sea,
Groans the void of setting day, groans the inside in the bodies
All the essential clashes in just a single time

This one here that we have while the salt,
And empty Kvarner Sea drips down flickering fingers, the Sea
Climbs in powder to the walls of the church girt
With whiteness like resting place of Mexican freedom fighters

Whom in the morning without a word will shoot an uncalled
Someone in a foreign land in alien tongue, Alien
In itself and empty and wipes the face with the last bullet
That which equates spaces and destinies

Wrapping all in the dust of oblivion, In the dust
And ash that remains on one, On my hair
Of her eyelashes turned to the colours of the night
Of Kvarner awakened with the flame that vanishes
Like our bodies in the dead-icy, waxen water

(trad. Graham McMaster, “The Bridge”, Zagreb, 2004.)



(Kurvinski svetokrug)

I awake when everything is way beyond repair
Smashed anguished disjointed so virile
The street does not drone when I pull out the ear plugs
Take off the black mask from the eyes, the gasmask too

Thus now the world is entered with an aura, sense of smell
The world of sirocco&bora of love habits obligations and politics
Theirs, that with a thoroughgoing silence and snigger
Treats me like small naive and useful little animal

Groping I patter the predictable geography
Of the flat that belongs to me like tight knickers, nines,
In which I preposterously parade, a few sizes
Fatter, and whorishly revel in the impotence of a downfall

A weakling by calling trade occupation and upbringing
I cultivate the junkheap below the midriff hypocritically despising
The polit-avant-garde of new prose new verse of the aggressive
But their media holy circle is at least defined

By jargon swearword soul-felt contempt for the reader
While he in knickers on the summer balcony over
No one’s garden that can hurl properly at anyone
Apart from self in cell phone and gleaming outlook express

A linguistic purist nicely in the evening evacuates
The hygienist too evacuates and wipes his own like someone else’s
Verse thought act and oversight and leaning on his elbows
Stopping up again all sensory orifices squats too long

Wordless (that alone can canonise the classical repentance)
Squats in the night in the short summer Adriatic like a polar night

(trad. Graham McMaster, “The Bridge”, Zagreb, 2004.)




Boris Domagoj Biletić was born in Pula on 22nd March, 1957. Having finished the Grammar School and the Teacher Training College in his home-town, he graduated from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, where he received M.A. and doctor’s degree. Today he lives in Rovinj where heads the City Library of Matija Vlačić Ilirik (lat. Matthias Flacius Illyricus). Since the second half of the 1970s (more serious beginning in the Pula Literary Club, whose publication was soon banned, and in the journal Istarski borac / Ibor), his poetry, reviews, essays, studies and translations from Italian and German have appeared in the Croatian and foreign publications. His poetry has also been read in the Treći program Hrvatskog Radija / the Third Programme of the Croatian Radio – Poezija naglas. Together with the two painters, Zdravko Milić (Mala lirska kronika, 1989) and Bruno Mascarelli (Istarski rukopisi – Caligrafie istriane, 1998), a co-author of the two graphic-and-poetic maps. Included in a couple of the Croatian and foreign anthologies of the Croatian poetry, i.e. those prepared by Mirjana Strčić (Hrvatsko pjesništvo Istre 19. i 20. stoljeća – Istarska pjesmarica, Pula 1989), Ante Stamać – Ivo Sanader (U ovom strašnom času, Split, 1992; Zagreb, 1994), Łucja Danielewska (Żywe źradla, Warsaw / Poland, 1996), Josip Bratulić – Stjepan Damjanović – Vinko Brešić – Božidar Petrač… (Mila si nam ti jedina…, Zagreb, 1998), Božidar Petrač (Hrvatska uskrsna lirika: od Kranjčevića do danas, Zagreb, 2001), as well as in literary lexicons, surveys, etc… Mentioned in historical overviewsHrvatska književnost 19. i 20. stoljeća by Miroslav Šicel (Zagreb, 1997) and Povijest hrvatske književnosti by Dubravko Jelčić (Zagreb, 2004). Some poems or cycles translated into about fifteen languages. Also known as an editor of numerous publications, mostly in the field of fiction. Until 1990, a member of the editorial board of the cultural journal Istra (Pula), the edition Istra kroz stoljeća; an active member of the Čakavski sabor. Initiator and editor-in-chief of the Pula literary, cultural and social journal (since its beginning in 1996) – Nova Istra(www.eurozine.com ; http://www.gradpula.com/nova_istra ; http://www.dhk.hr ). Member of the Association of Croatian Writers (since 1988) and its management team (three terms of reference), the Croatian P.E.N. Centre (since 1993) and member-employee of the Central Croatian Cultural and Publishing Society / Matica hrvatska (since 1990). One of the founders of the Istrian branch of the Croatian Writers’ Association (whose first president he was from 1990 to 1993), the Croatian Cultural Society of Franjo Glavinić from Rovinj as well as one of the initiators of the Days of Šoljan / Šoljanovi dani held in Rovinj. In 1997, a guest-writer within the international Zagreb Slavic School. Established the international literary meeting “Pula Essay Days” (Pulski dani eseja) in 2003. Participated in a wide range of international and Croatian poetry festivals, as well as literary meetings. Holder of the following literary awards: Mlada Struga (Struga Evenings of Poetry, Macedonia, 1984; Zublja šutnje), Tin Ujević (1997; Radovi na nekropoli), the award given by the Austrian foundation “KulturKontakt” (2002; Bartuljska jabuka), Julije Benešić (2008; Pristrani čitatelj, I-II); Sv. Kvirin (2012.; for his poetry). Due to his literary and cultural activities, Boris Biletić was also given the Order of Danica Hrvatska with the Effigy of Marko Marulić (1996) and the Medal of the City of Rovinj (1997), as well.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s