POEMS ON SLANA (Ante Zemljar)

Nameless line

Flocks of seagulls disturbed

Circle over rocky capes

All day

Impatiently –

Because they see us in columns –

Hoping to descend to where we occupied their nests

They do not suspect that the dead do not leave

Assigned execution sites

When they get closer

In the line


Edge of the cape

Sharp stab of a rock

Into the bright sea


Wave and thought



One with a knife

Is placed on the cape


And rules

Nobody can get close to the cape!

It becomes sharper

They sharpen it –

Who dares to get close will get impaled.

The flag of death screams over it

The knife and the wolf operate the grindstones –

Boasting fang glows from the jaws

The blade is brighter than the sun

Glimmers more than the day

Over the glassy sea it waits for you

In slaughter


Invitation over graves

- to Orthodox Christians from the village of Šibuljine

murdered on Pag in SLANA camp in 1941.

Towards the rocks, dazed, I reveal only

Myself looking at nothing;

Countless days

I wander in the heat, red hot cauldron

Where they fried you in the black noon

I run away from those I return to

Scattered consciousnesses from a bent hour –

Threatening next to rocky ravines

With accusation I catch myself and the other;

Which sour man did not shiver in his gut

Or with his eye, wrinkle on his forehead

At least had one gray in his hair

Blackened with shame, launched a brave curse

Should not amongst people

Not for a moment, a single day live

A house with such a man

The house, destroy it completely with foundations


Scorched by the sun with consciousness scattered

Running away from you I say goodbye, I said

Tranquil with time, with weak fists

But I have never denied the curse within me

Instead of a palm leaf

Sharp wind

Sharp tongue

Sharp stab

Everything is sharp with you

You sharp Christian knife


And converted

Took us with one rope

Together with Jews

Not baptised

They cut us with the same knife

And amongst the same rocks

Pile us killed

Do not our lives

Gods of crime


During resurrection

When our blood poured

Into the same pore of porous karst

The knife of baptism


For eternity

Entwined our fates

Shadows in sand

I sift sand

Chopped bones

Around me

Unfinished road



Unfinished fence

A life ended with a knife

Is it over?

Unfinished questions

Over the sifter

Through which I sift shadows


Handed over to stone fences

We entered our night

Into the sharp stones raising to the sky

If we have not entered your conscience

You came to visit us in vain

With a name

Seagulls fly over the naked

Seductive lines of swimmers enflame fires of lust –

While screams of children are woven into the landscape

I feel hills leaning onto them

Is oblivion unavoidable ashes

For the losses to yield gains?

Inquisitive clouds leave us alone

To, erect, fry on our own

And so again everything is here, in the same hand

Both life and death; not even a shower of joy

To be destroyed in it, so hospitable.

Slana, that is her name

Instead of a palm leaf

In the Pag Gate every day from the bottom

One bell tempers the brass through the deep

Saint Christopher the protector of travellers

The star of Liverpool with beard

From the cape of my island waves at night

With a lamp in his hand and hope

A traveller in the storm who looks his way

Will manage, fortunate, to see his house

From the neighbouring cape winks through the nigh

His comrade the protector of sailors

Saint Nicholas the traveller in sandals

Friends to all overpowered by the gale

Whoever asks for his help

Will return to his children alive

Saint Christopher and Saint Nicholas

They took out their eyes, hid them in the darkness

Under the stone fence of war, domestic –

Since then they have been dead,

Their eyes are lost

Left to thunderous sky and gales

The first remained on the rock drained –

The second one is on the tip of the opposite rock

Bristling like a sharp stone

In the nights of the slaughter in vain did the travellers

Pierced black veil of darkness with screams,

They were brought to the cape with rocks around their necks

And lowered half dead into the deep

They neither saw the saints, nor did at least one

Saint wake up to wave with his lamp

A familiar sigh since the dawn of mankind

For his light to give them hope

Only the dolphins swerved around the corpses

Touched them gently on their way to cold depths

In the watery tomb closed all of their eyes

Laying an old man next to children, a mother next to her son

In the Pag Gate every day from the bottom

One bell tempers the brass through the deep