Two Poems by Darko Cvijetić

This is part of our feature on Poets and Power: Language of Resilience from Central and Eastern Europe

Translated from the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian by Mirza Purić


Paralympic Anthem

I ask H. why there were
No suicides in the camps
You see, it’s not just the killer who turns
Into an animal
The one being killed does, too
He says
Abattoirs are full of unresisting
Man cans them calmly
Fills up his tactical rucksack
Thus we feed the rabbits
And they play
I will also tell you that Achilles was
on his way to Hector’s funeral
Oh, there was this one lad
At dawn when they called out his name
He smashed his head against the wall
Like when you crush ice with a hammer
In a tin bowl
That’s what it sounded like
The fear of the eggshell
After the bird has tottered out



All things
When you lay them
One across the other
Make a cross
Only a man
Dropped as a perpendicular
Onto another man

Does not a cross make
But two crosses
Add a third one
And there you have a pile
There you have a swastika
There you have broken arms



Darko Cvijetić is a poet and actor from Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has published seven books of poetry, and his eighth is due to appear in 2017. His work has been published widely both in the former Yugoslavia, and internationally, in French, English, German, Hebrew, Yiddish, Hungarian and Polish. He works as an actor and director at the local theatre in Prijedor.

Mirza Purić translates literature from German, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, and plays angry minimalist music in Gudron. He serves as an editor-at-large with Asymptote and does a lot of pro bono work for writers and poets who operate outside of the mainstream. In 2015, a piece he translated was nominated for a Pushcart prize.  

Photo: Darko Cvijetić, Private
Photo: Mirza Purić, Private


Published on March 1, 2017.

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