Selection of poetry by Gjoko Zdraveski





  1. my grandad enclosed his courtyard with a fence
    and thus won a plot of land,
    though he lost the world.
    and then he started to partition
    that plot of land and
    name the gardens.
    I was a child and I loved most
    the little connecting doors.
  2. we stake in poles – bounds,
    we draw maps with some boundaries
    and place people there
    that scan through our bags
    asking us where we are going
    as though it really mattered to them.

    where are you heading, gojko?

    the border holder asks me at five o’clock
    in the morning, and I, still not fully awake, say to him: home.
    while thinking to myself:
    back and forth the earth
    or up and down? in space
    or in time? now
    or always and for eternity?
  3. we are centuries away from freedom.
    for we still set ourselves free from
    other people’s chains. and we do not feel
    in the guts the key from the cell
    in which we are locked.

we forget that the coffee we drink
to wake up is contained
in the residue at the bottom of the cup.

every day we talk about it. we even dare
sing about it. it’s just that,
we do so ill. full with
fear, instead of love.


  1. earth. red.

I descend to my subterranean chambers.
to the foundations. where back in the days
my folks buried something.
I descend stealthily, hiding from the world. I steal
the key from myself.
it is gelid down there. even fire is burning
from the chill. it burns as char on bare skin.
and goose pimples. because of the ice, fear, foreboding.
I reach forth with a candle in my hand.
I search through the jars of sweets,
bitter, slightly liquorice.
I sift through all that has passed through me.
all that passed before me.
I let the air out with a knife
so that the stench may leave.
I remove the mould spreading on top.
I take a deep breath. get a taste with my finger.
jar by jar I open. I remove the mould.
I take a deep breath. get a taste with my finger.
jar by jar.
until I find why it hurts so much.
and until when.


departing from the temple

night in night out someone would enter the temple
and slurp with a teaspoon
the eyes of the saints

thinking that he would thus be able to see

for a long while I was departing from the temple
I’d go back to every corner
every crack
over and over round in circles
with my palms I’d stroke
the walls
I’d close my eyes
and imbibe the fragrances
so that they will stay within forever

I’d go back to it for days on end
for months
moments grew into centuries
outside of it

for years I’d enter it
I’d go back to it after my travels
for years I’d pray in it
and confess
I’d lie on the cold stone
and with my ear to the ground
and listen in
every time
I thought I’d hear
something new
that I don’t know

and as of late we no longer are
either the temple in me
or I in the temple


                                                Translated by Lazar Popov


house for migratory birds

my left shoulder
is the swing
from your dream

you sleep in and miss
the morning silence of old men
who drink coffee on terraces

the high-rise that obscures
the sun
or we hide from it

uncovered are hugging
in the bottom of the bed

the window wide open
swallowed rag sky
torn from
happiness counted to ten

in the corner
a spider, shipwrecked,
stitching plans
for a new home

ours is
a house for migratory birds

we are
boats of paper in a middle of a flood
longing for ground



silence is learned in the womb.
n. madzirov

we make a house
from a chair
putting a thick blanket
over it.

we create a world
only for us,
there is nothing else,
only the silence
of our breathing.



when I was a little boy
I practiced my own sloppy autograph
on the foggy glass
of the old red car

today in the glass of the shower
I pen marks with my index finger
that I cannot understand

I know only that they come
from an even more distant childhood


                                                  Translated by Scott Stewart & Luke Crane




Photography by: Katica Kjulavkova

This post is also available in: Macedonian