Not only about the Presence
by Adam Borzič

Since Berlin you want to write a poem so simple,
That you repeat for a hundred times words like banality, presence, black currant…
You read your notes in your mobile; its display is somewhat scarred, 
Which now seems to me fitting. You read in them you cannot turn back time. There is nowhere to return it.  So the sadness of the past is forever only an echo, 
Falling through a large sieve like a noodle, while the ladle still hangs
On the wall, and the sky is grey and the stairs look they lead to hell,
But they don‘t. So you open the door, the defeat of the meaning disappears,
Only a chest with tulips on top remain.   

You thought of poetic scenes,
And they are your new nightmares, your love poems
For more and more men and one woman, topical only for the polyamory, 
But you won’t confess it publicly, so you suffer from nightmares,
That fall on the professor’s bald head 
Several days after his radio programme was cancelled,
Which is also your fault, and on top of that, he has to introduce you. . 
Through a strange eye of a while, climbs an insect’s futility and all that love
It feels to be threatened with the polite interest
Of the audience, say in Berlin... 

At night you whisper to yourself: 
They kept coming to me
And the doors got opened
And the door got closed
And they kept asking: 
What do you want? What do you want? 

And their voices sounded like thunder in the larder,
Like a spike in the wet sand. 

The wind of nervousness is luckily asleep. It’s November. 
Berlin kept October to itself together with the beautiful Tereza
And beautiful Jan, together with the beautiful black man at the reception, 
Who, aged fifty, married a Czech man who hates his countrymen. 
Now at last November. A month of simplicity. As well as a month of joy.  
Far behind are left poetic scenes, orphaned like a lighthouse on an island
In the middle of the North Sea. The chairs are empty, tables by the wall, 
Toilets sparkle with cleanliness. Standstill. 
So you are happy about a repaired tap in the kitchen, 
Several outstanding poems I have read today, 
Interviews with Olga and Ivan. And naturally,
walking. Sometimes modest, other times self-confident, 
ever so often meek like wrinkles on Ivan’s face, 
ever so often magical like the night full of yellow tobacco leaves
on the pavement, and nautical apples,
which you stole in your dream. 
And then you laughed about it.  
by Aleš Kauer

The old whore, bored and willing
to walk along each generation all over again. 
I am like Prague begging for a photo, 
like a foreigner pleading for love,
like a tourist believing in virtual values. 
I am exploding tenderness and misguided imagination. 
I sweeten the bitter dregs with two sugar cubes from the nearby street. 
On the window – a spider of yesterday’s explosion. 
You fall asleep with an i-Pod in your hand. 
With pleasure, enjoyment and neurosis within my reach. 
With assurance there is another 
chamber full of light.

The shining pause between two lives. 
I want to be your confidence, 
I want to be your talent with the real inner complexity, 
with the spectrum of cynical,     

caustically witty and snap observations. 
I want to be your address in the yellow Moleskin, 
your artefact and adrenalin.

Wink at me so I am sure you know what I am talking about!

We touch our anxieties like razor blades. 
Unshaven strayed people on the polar maps. 
Yet, in all that lived-in melancholy 
is so much truth, ugliness, humour, beauty,
there is only one answer in existence… 
To go out and live!

perro callejero 
by Tim Postovit

avenida as long as the arm of your mother
when she placed an ice-cold towel
on your forehead sweaty with fever 

the café is as small as your soul 
when a street dog scared you for the first time
because you understood you would follow him 

the man’s teeth crack the grains of sand
from the sandals of Mary Magdalene

who, in the act of reconciliation, hands you a neon clavicle bone
so you can sell it at the market –  easily  
like boiled sweet corn 
like sheep cheese 

and for the money you make, you buy 
a ticket home
by Josef Straka

swirling pressure
intractable words, repeated over and over
a little corner at the boat’s bar
there is nowhere to sail off
not even inside you
with all the barricades – on and on churning something
going out – somewhere to the upper deck
and watch the last ray of the fading day
with a certain trace of additional hope and hope-lessness
and then you really abandon the boat
the reverberating sound of lock chambers
what with what and against what
and what in unclear circumstances
and what completely explicitly, what acutely
unbidden questions when sinking
perhaps not, the other un-said negatives!

All translations by Natalie Nera

About the Authors

Adam Borzič (born in 1978) is a poet, mental health therapist , translator as well as editor-in-chief of the prominent literary bi-weekly Tvar. He is the author of five poetry collections. In 2014 he was nominated for the Magnesia Litera literary award. His poems have been translated into Polish, English, Romanian, Croatian, Serbian, Russian, Slovenian and Portuguese.

Aleš Kauer (born in 1974) is a Czech poet, artist and activist who tries to highlight the issues of gay writers and poets. He has five collections under his belt and is also a founder of an artistic collective Iglau Ingenau as well as the Adolescent publishing house in Šumperk

Tim Postovit (b. in 1996) is a poet and translator from Russian. He studies philology at the Charles University in Prague. His first collection Magistrála (published by Pointa) came out in 2019. He is currently working on his second book. Moreover, he frequently performs in the genre of slam poetry. In 2019, he became a champion of the Czech Republic in duo slam. He teaches Czech as a second language. He lives in Prague.

Josef Straka (born in 1972), originally worked as an academic researcher in psychology for the Institute of Psychology. At present he organises literary readings in the City Library in Prague. He is an author of several critically acclaimed collections. His poems have been translated into Polish, Serbian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, English and Dutch.