Two Poems by Monika Herceg

Translated from the B/C/S by Mirza Purić
This is part of our special feature on Crime and Punishment.


Aileen Wuornos reconstructs the breaking of the sound barrier with gunshots

Under a stolen car the world will shrink down to a single truth, and then I’ll encourage
the bullet I’d spat out into your lung. For years, bodies kept sinking into the road.
Honesty has been paved over, but I know where grass can bore through.

Now that a new meal has grown out of my thigh, the child that doesn’t
know I’m its mother will say it’s not hungry. It nibbles on the limbs of a gentle surrogate.
If the roast is too salty, Granddad’s liver will scream fatty imperatives
into my squinting eyes and strip me to the saccharine baby skin.
Then beating.
Then supper.

Brother says seasoned spiders are coming, with their hairy legs they’re dusting under the bed.
I only have to say I’ve no recollection, no name, no brother.
Then I sink in.
Then breakfast.

Two bullets, six, nine. If the omelette of morning light gets cold,
the child that ate out of me will start to tend to infinity,
then cancel down and leave again.

Threat is tucked into the asphalt like a daisy behind an ear.
If you touch me you will wake the gun
sleeping under the tongue.

One body was never found as it is in my flesh.

Ana Magaš moves into a star having killed her abusive husband in self-defence
The judge declares:
We are in autumnal thickening here, a state of irreversible
falling. You danced with the man who had just
stepped out of the Moon. His eyes were wrinkled with airless homeland.
What was your husband supposed to say at such revolt?

Ana declares:
I’m here to roll out the artillery of stars, have you got a telescope to look at
the blows with which he’d lignified my mobility? The knife is just a consequence.

The judge declares:
Irrelevant, madam. You danced, I repeat, impossible as cold fusion,
with the stranger from the vacuum. You really think you didn’t strain the house thin?

Ana leaves unsaid:
My house is a spiral of petrified bruises.
According to the house rules, it isn’t unusual for a finger to grow a blade
which can – if the fists get too close to the heartbeats –
cut off the shoots of invasionary reality.
Dead Damsel lives in my elbow bone malunion,
Dead Damsel also occupies my twice broken ribs.
Let me be taken, wet from coexisting with sprains,
to oblong rooms, oblong beds,
for warm, hi-caloric dinners, for walks in rectangular amplitudes
so that the gaze sheds its sense of magnitude of fear,
so that I finally relax my newfound freedom
with the white noise of strangers’ disasters.


Monika Herceg (1990) studies physics at the University of Rijeka, Croatia. She won the second prize at the International Poetry Competition Castello di Duino in 2016, and in 2017, her then unpublished volume Početne koordinate (Initial Coordinates) won the Croatian poetry debut prize Goran for Young Poets. The book was published in 2018 and has recently won the Kvirin Award. Her second book won the “Na vrh jezika” award for best unpublished poetry volume in 2018 and is slated for release in 2019.

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.

Published on November 8, 2018.


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