Frontierspeople by Dijala Hasanbegović

Translated from the B/C/S by Mirza Purić.



Tell me!

between sleeplessness and dreamlessness
are the steps too tall too tight for the feet
swollen from roaming and do the eyeballs swell
from crossing gazes eye over eye

Tell me!

He was shouting from below and I was
shouting back without turning
for it’s precipitous and dark and full of sounds
I don’t recognise
this narrow street and into its cobbled steps we
press our insecure feet and he keeps calling
with each step I take I hear him walking

Tell me!

that every sound from the throat and every colour in the eye
are hand in hand gaze in gaze foot in footprint
for once the memories of the body are gone
and replaced by memories quiet rare and pale as the winter sun
I will take a transcript of our laughs and ask if you agree.

Tell me! Do you?

Yes, I said, loping faster
yes, I said, laughter sounds like the patter of rain soft rain
light rain warm rain
and it is an unguent for your aching head
and a fluid rhythm in which we become
a change, a tempest, an absence
a state
now let me climb and not see you
for once I’m up there I won’t need you

once I’m up there I’ll be breathing once I’m up there I’ll be screaming

let me climb and not see
that this street is a dead end
that my salvation is futile
leave me be and thank me for
being better
than myself tonight better than
I’ve ever been.

Tell me!

what do I do, he continued after a brief pause, tell me
what do I do with this silence which beckons
and leaves us alone I reckon we become an amen
well, then, you summon
sleeplessness into sleep dreamlessness into dreams

Tell me!

I’ve moved entirely into a hum into the silence
which conceives me which conceives him
into the still I’ve moved, curled into myself at the
dead higher end of the sloping street deaf as the night numb
the dark.


Photographic response by Merisa Bašić


Dijala Hasanbegović is a poet, critic, and journalist. She read comparative literature and Bosnian at the University of Sarajevo, and she has worked as a reviewer, journalist, and editor at several magazines and web portals. Her essays, poetry, and criticism pieces have appeared in various literary magazines in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Sweden, Norway, Poland, and the US. Hasanbegović lives in Sarajevo, writes columns for various publications, and is a member of the Sarajevo Writers’ Workshop, a collective of independent writers and poets. Her first collection of poems, Neće biti djece za rat (Kids for War), came out to acclaim in April 2017.

Mirza Purić is a literary translator working from German and B/C/S. He serves as a contributing editor with EuropeNow and in-house translator with Sarajevo Writers’ Workshop. From 2014 to 2017 he was an editor-at-large with Asymptote. He has several book-length translations into B/C/S under his belt and his shorter translations into English have appeared in Asymptote, H.O.W., EuropeNow and PEN America, among other places. He plays Bass VI and baritone guitar in a band.

Merisa Bašić was born and raised in Sarajevo, where she did a degree in graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts. She holds a master’s degree in visual art and film and theatre production from the International University of Sarajevo. Merisa is a member of the Association of Fine and Applied Arts in Sarajevo and cofounder of the Association for Contemporary Art NAZOR. She has participated in various exhibitions and festivals, and she currently works as a digital and graphic designer and as a video producer.



Published on September 6, 2017.

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