Shoes For My Father





We are puzzled with my brother
In the shoe store
On the main street
In the home town.
When we were kids
In this very store
They used to buy new shoes for us
Before the beginning
of each school year.
Our father then watched
For the shoes to be
First comfy then good-looking
A size larger
To last longer.
One should grow up the shoes
Our father would say.

Now with my brother
We are buying new shoes
For our father.
We stick to his
Former instructions:
The shoes must be
First comfy then good-looking
Not too tight
for blisters would appear on his feet
when he decides
to take long walks
through the jungle of memories.
These shoes of our father
Must be pointed shoes
With solid sole leather
So that he can
Give with pleasure a kick
To the dressed up guardian angel
When he begins to bore him stiff
With lectures on immortality
Of goodness and justness.

We laughed out bitterly with my brother
When leaving the shoe store
A day before the death
Of our father.


in the summer
there are lots of mosquitoes
there are common mosquitoes
and there are malarial mosquitoes
and there are phlebotomi
and there are stegomyias
and there are other kinds of insects
but the mosquitoes matter

they move around
in swarms
and they move around
in the park
and they’re
in the gardens of cafés
and in the flowers
and they’re
at home
and in the programs
of festivals
and recitals
and they’re
on TV
and in the theatre
and in the city stadium
and they’re
at official lunches and dinners
and they’re
at conferences
and at work camps
and at the writers’ club
and the other clubs
and they’re
in your bed at home
and in the hotel rooms
and they’re
on the night shift
and in the supermarkets
and in the drugstores
and in the pharmacies

they bite your legs
and your arms
and your ears
and your pocket
and your crotch
they bite everywhere

and there are lots of mosquitoes
in the Turkish market
and in the cake shops
and in the boza and the baklava
and in the markets of Thessaloniki
and in the Trieste
and they buzz a long time
they buzz incessantly
and cleverly and very cleverly
they buzz lecture-like
they buzz bar-like
pss-pss gossip-like
they buzz family-clan- like
they buzz idolatrously
and sometimes polemically
they buzz hard-worker-like
and liar-like and lazy-bum-like
and weekend-like
and without a silencer
with a dual exhaust
they buzz boringly

there are lots of mosquitoes
there are common mosquitoes
and there are malarial mosquitoes
and there are phlebotomi
and there are stegomyias
there are all kinds of mosquitoes
and there’s a way
to fight them
there’s an association for the prevention of malaria
and there are other associations
there are inspectorates
and food and market inspection service
and there’s a tax department
to track down your property
and there are planes
that spray mosquitoes
look at the sky
(it’s thundering!)
it’s going to rain!


You’ve hit the jackpot when it’s May
and you’re a real tough guy
you know how to cook kachamak
you’re on first name terms with the clouds
there are tiny dewdrops under your feet
and you don’t step on a hedgehog when you’re doing a folk dance
You’ve really hit the jackpot when it’s May
and you warble on a dewy power cable
each morning you suck fresh eggs
(and wish La Fontaine a happy birthday on the radio)
you have a laser to chop logs
and a car that’s a bit more powerful than your neighbor’s
and you enjoy official dinners
and read the daily papers in peace
You’ve hit the jackpot
if the inventor of the neutron bomb hadn’t been born
there’s no inflation
the flow of empty promises is stopped
the discos never close
the TV doesn’t go off the air early
to save electricity
you get a charge account from another store
and complete your wardrobe
for the fall-winter season in the most expensive boutique
You’ve hit the jackpot
when there’s enough wheat and corn
(because mornings are sad without burek, brow and white bread and rolls,
and without kachamak, of course)
followed by milk and yogurt
and when there’s plenty of detergent
and the price of lamb goes down
and if there’re no holes in the roads and the trains are on time
and the elevators work in the high-rises
(and old people aren’t trapped on the fourteenth floor)
and when the ski-lifts on the mountains work
You’ve hit the jackpot
when you can look the truth in the eye
and don’t find yourself in an obit
(all seas are inflammable liquids
anything can happen)
when none of the customs are forgotten at weddings
the soccer championship is above board
and boxers win some more medals
(technical knockout in the second round)
You’ve hit the jackpot most of all
when you find a good chick
and hiding place for love
and the beer is cold
and you don’t eat many watermelons
(or you’ll pee a lot and peeing is a waste of time)
be careful, very careful,
not to catch the clap or syphilis any place
and not to let the stones in your left kidney start hurting
and listen to the latest news
(of course our team wins the World Cup,
in Poland they go on strike, and in America they go on strike
the Palestinians are fighting another battle)
you eat a lot of onions
you eat a lot of onions
You’ve hit the jackpot.


First they’ll strip you and leave you naked.
They’ll bath you and give you pyjamas and a blue gown.
Through the clean corridors like
catwalks at a fashion show where you can’t see the end
(everyone’s sorry for you, nobody claps!)
they’ll take you into your room. Number 611.
Here there’s a priest and a retired captain.
They moan a lot, especially around midnight.
Then they’ll give you an injection to tranquillize you.
It’ll hurt, but you’ll grit your teeth. Anyway, the captain
said already that all poets are the same - nuts.
They’ll give you a cocktail of a mish-mash of tablets.
Straight away comes the first dose of castor oil
(someone’s on the john, and you have to hold on a bit longer)
Most of all the nurse watches you
curling up and she smiles at you helplessly.
She’s charming, it dawns on you that like this,
almost someone shitting himself, you can’t make her. Pity.
Finally they take you to the doctor. For the confession.
All your days in the café and in the theater bar
The time spent in the editor’s office, in the theater or watching soccer
Your world travels
All the Struga Poetry Evenings and the Prlichev readings
All the conferences and congresses
Every drop of red Gevgelija wine
All your meals from the cafeteria
All your Esenins and Rimbauds
All your heartaches
The doctor writes it down calmly on a piece of paper
completing the history of your illness.
You’re embarrassed, nothing’s clear


If I were at home
I’d play with my son
I’d tell him incomprehensible stories
I’d bark, I’d stand on my head

If I were in Skopje
I’d be on duty at work
or I’d sit with my friends
on the terrace of the Macedonia Hotel

I’d settle the affairs of the world
I’d talk about Afghanistan and the economic crisis
I’d fill out my soccer pool coupon
and I’d eye the shapely logs of the women passing by

Then I’d tell political jokes
I’d brag of my little infidelities and new loves
I’d daydream about Ohrid and the Copacabana
and the far-off days when I’ve retired to Hvar

If I were in my home town
I’d drown in the torrent of childhood memories
or maybe I’d wander through the supermarkets
looking for coffee and detergent

I’d climb up the highest hill
and I’d sing to the stars
and ask them for junk
I’d do all kinds of things

If I wasn’t spending
the damned afternoon alone
in this hotel room.


If you’re to believe the radio reporters,
there were eight throusand spectators
that Sunday at the soccer match
in the city stadium in Stip:
textile workers, house-painters, signwriters,
pharmacists, grocers, widows, butchers,
tradesmen, judges, doctors, soldiers,
artists, priests and research workers.

Among them there was
a blind lollipop-seller.
The ball was bouncing
in his black glasses.
He was chering for the deep blues,
staring at the deep blue emptiness of the sky
in his thoughts.


He enjoyed monotony:
he lived by night, he looked at the neon lights
and the future
through light-sensitive glasses
the light show intoxicated
his self-satisfied laziness
and the poisonous fires of his Honda
shat every night on the city silence

One morning
on the bus to the gipsy village
he saw a gipsy woman asleep
with veins like drainpipes
with her tits half-covered
and a little child on her lap.
The child was sucking
the dregs of her sleepless night
and waving at Uncle Martinovski,
the painter of gipsies.

The face looked at the sky
The roots of the day turned up

The asphalt is jumping alowly
In the neon May sunset

The children's toy is lonely at the shop window
Nobody looks at it

And the passers by are lonely
They look at the stars.


Thick blood in pools on TV
(direct broadcast from the battlefield)

gas tankers overturned beside the highway
sounds of sirens wailing

A star falls into the maternity ward
(the first, and it's a boy, let's hope he's a tough guy!)

Inflation in the customs declarations
the customs officers drink brine

A wedding in the neighbourhood without drums
hi-fi stereo blasting like an A-bomb

A soup of pesticides for the gods
dumplings in the cog-wheel of a child's bike

Bleached graffiti on the concrete fences
dinosaurs with steel teeth

Only Homer under an umbrella of suns
chuckless hideously.



That sunny afternoon
I went out to play.
In the amusement park
I made a lot of friends:
Hamlet as a traindriver
got stuck with the little train in the tunnel;
Julius Caesar spat bursts of fire
from the spaceship;
Antony commanded
a squadron of planes;
Richard the Lionheart
groaned in the little tank;
Othello was ambushed
behind the machine gun nest;
there's Lear riding elephants,
relishing the spirit of rebellion;
Ophelia and Desdemona are working on
the same piece of embroidery:
armour of human threads.
In the cages the monkeys
jerk off with glee in front of the children
who are playing with a colored ball with a puncture
as with a bomb.

That night on the TV I saw
many real planes, tanks
and fathers covered in blood.

I saw everything.

And tomorrow you'll ask me
why I'm writing political plays
and why, when I was a boy,
I peed in my pants.


On Friday night
we're playing cards: you deal, then I do,
and so on, alternating endlessly.
The Olympic Games are going on
and it's the transfer season in soccer
Lightning strikes
in the latest radio news!
The sky memory
under the record-player needle:
cherries, apples and red wine
I'll die, Mom,
on a cloud with a thousand faces
on a cloud in pants
or on a cloud
that's broken away - without underpants.
Petrified at the church gate
there'll be no wedding
dry your eyes
and don't lean out of the window.
Dead butterflies
far from the place of assembly.
If the kiss could only
be hot and endless
but we're tired out
and we each hurry to bed
like roe without a fish.
Where shall I hide the sky
from the new love story?
Let's fly, fly
up in the sky.
Old Aladin will be
our guide.
Watch out,
we're really flying
and who knows if we know
how to come back.


For years now
from Gutenberg's Pharmacies
each night I buy
chick peas to help me sleep:
The first welcome after hell
Improved food production
A bad storm in Eastern Macedonia
Turning towards our possibilities
Actions without hesitation
Distribution without measuring
Our Revolution will win
The current trembling in the face of winter
We're always fighting our way forward
Division as an obstacle to a solution
To economic piracy
Few resources - many stoppages
Everyone's to blame for the lack of hygiene
Spindles turn without stopping
Living conditions get better and better
We're expecting a real good harvest
The mountains to become white with sheep
The ownership of property is in dispute
Salesmen forget medical chech-ups
How much does a child at school cost us?
The students will start moving in
A snake doctor
On trial for helping a birth
To the last breath
Cactus thieves
Twenty six years in a coma
Socks with a zipper instead of a cast
The map of the world is changing all the time
Ready for bumper sales
Death from a firecracker
The coach is always to blame
Who's to score?

My son
is lucky
that he can't read yet
and he falls asleep peacefully
tired out from his games
(and from the cartoons on TV).
Then in his dream
he makes fun of Gutenberg
and of our neurotic galaxy.
I kiss the child
and that's enough
this night without electricity
and with no prospect
of ripping to pieces
the mirror of everyday life.


You'll count off in the poem
public women
public brothels
public baths
public beaches
public platforms
public celebrities
public ballots
public phones
public sins
public security
public filming
public honors
public debates
public bidding
public funerals
public secrets
and public suckers.
All kinds of things
you'll pile up in the public list
if you bladder doesn't burst
while you're looking for a public restroom.
And what's the use of it
that your trouble
has become - public trouble?


Two small green proletarian sickles
A bloated weekend donkey pees beneath the balcony
a freshly shaved mug
thefts of flags from the terraces
fear of the fire engine's din
The left with pigeon groppings on their shoulders
The right with their hands in their pockets
Oh, honey! How smart the seams
of your nylon stockings are
Stop! Don't take out the eyes of the face on the poster
Tomorrow at 20.00 hours a premiere
at the flea market one lamp-post less
Yesterday! Yes, yesterday a Hope should have given birth


to Prof. Poljanski

I brought over
a fistfull of violet figs
and a mug of beer
to restore your spirit.

Don't bother asking
who or what I am or where I'm from
don't ask anything
for I could ask as well, but
silence is more becoming
(listen to the distant echo
of a drove hidden somewhere
in the asphalt sky).

Have a look:
in the park I chase white butterflies
with white silks I strangle
the dreadful plagues, and behind the oak
the ice cream vendor caught the shadow.

out on a break
(between embraces)
steal linden blossoms
children balance themselves
on their tricycles.
And what should I ask the turtle
turned over on its back?
Are these hills, this life connected
or, as it is said, in looking for the bottom
you drown in happiness?

Let's cling the mugs to your health
so the beer won't grow stale
when you'll get older, you'll surely love
some charming girl and ride around
on an enormous bicycle
built for two.



here under the marble
swarthy looks spark
with a faint smell of basil

here new flags of silence
are sewn from old sins
and cold walls of oblivion rise

here loneliness is created
from layers of real history
and a real shock from reality

here odes and requiems
and shows of burial kits
have long been out of fashion

here time always turns to the other side
the fortune tellers become beggars
and no one buys a drink for the musicians at the gates

here the older the dead are
the more pride they show
for they have no living enemies

here the dead are really dead
and can’t remember who said
the beauty of a sight is in its sorrow.


in San Telmo
history has bushy eyebrows
and winks at the newly arrived

in San Telmo
it is obvious if there are no good winds
they’ll be covered with cobwebs

in San Telmo
white cats cross your path
and treat you with tame indifference and blitheness

in San Telmo
songs roll down the pavements
and singers spring in your soul

in San Telmo
under the skirt of every dancer
there hides fear of new poverty and defeat

in San Telmo
a pigeon is perched on the harmonica boy’s shoulder
and his music sinks into its small sad eyes


the joyful pajador is right
when he says that here life is good
as long as so many pinch each other’s cheeks

and the boastful ones from all countries are right
when they say that what happens does not happen
if the neighbors do not hear about it first

handfuls of old stories and new pleasures
eyes full of nice legs and blossoming sweets
empty siestas in the darkness of the new times

an embodiment of female joy under the bridge
a sea-gherkin offers very cheaply
classes in long journeys and deep pickling

the enormous past is anchored in the river
and deep silence is kept in the old sailboats
that are not members of the united forgettory

the exhibition of ancient sins is closed
all sails of memory are torn
and the flagless masts are like breastless women

a little higher is the monument of the Maldivian fallen heroes
who kindly ask us to refresh our history lessons
and to tell them how anything in their garden can be foreign


no one ever stops
along the corrientas avenue
and every one asks where from there

the insomnia dance from all countries lasts for ever
interrupted only by ambulance and fire engine sirens
and no one has ever seen when night turns into morning

the newly arrived buskers offer stale sandwiches
squeeze oranges and a drop or two of life
and receive their bonus for a better future

the avenue knows every tremor of the city
and every hole filled with dregs of other times
as without their darkness there will be no light

and without light no shadows for the withered flowers
and for the dreams of the old passionate sufferers
heavy with forgotten and dried up sins

at the pedestrian crossings words line up
waiting for the green light to cross
like smurfs to the other side of time

on this side of time there is a book store
in which borges stubbornly explains to orhan pamuk
that the monumental light is always nameless


who hasn’t been in café tortoni
hasn’t been in buenos aires
and will die with sober eyes

who hasn’t been in café tortoni
will not understand albert einstein’s joy
after his domino championship victory

who hasn’t been in café tortoni
will not see how federico garcia lorca
gently dances on rubinstein’s fingers

who hasn’t been in café tortoni
will never sense how the hot coffee
evaporates beautiful women’s bodies

who hasn’t been in café tortoni
will never taste the remnants of the songs
that borges gently sang to his friends’ ears

who hasn’t been in café tortoni
will never discover the secret
of candy kisses and honeycomb dreams

who hasn’t been in café tortoni
will become allergic to tea from dried love roots
long before he pays the bill.


silver light rises
from the mines of time
up in the sierra del plata

silver frames
decorate the pictures of the city
that everyone harbors in his chest

silver bridges
rise from darkness to light
and from silence to the sound of the bandoneon

a silver bell
gives life to the memories of battles
under the flying war flags

silver catamarans
skim life’s joy
across the oasis of silence

silver smiles
and first love’s crumbs
the dolphins give to those operated from cataracts

silver errors
rise from the thoughts of the fallen in love
and wave endlessly these waters.



pulled out from the noose of time
the thoughts still raise rose storms
and keep the fallen fighters between book covers

in the foam of desire
first are laid the fatherland’s foundations
and then palaces are built for the dreams’ rest

when frost and fog press from all sides
and when defeats and poverty stop time
it is time to attack and to throw the silver clocks

in the midst of the pampas before the straw huts
when the guards change
whispers are only in the future continuous tense

even if one would like to forget it
the past makes the children’s dreams more beautiful
keeping them safe from spells that make them wet their beds

slowly they all learned
there is no such modest spring in this age
so proud of the melting snow

and those who though defenseless shouted
macedonia to the macedonians
have learned to turn bread crumbs into silver nuggets.


two youths with flushed faces
in a fiery la poderossa following fiery pathlessness
carrying fiery hopes to the colonies of lepers

two by two and only God knows how many by two
in santa clara they defend the future with naked hopes
and then make new mosaics from old pieces of the sun

sworn in many successes and very little life
they wear cartridge belts filled with rambling words
and pick out seeds of illusions from water melon rinds

a day without a dawn
descends from the bolivian mountain escambren
and falls upon the world’s eyelids

strutting before destiny
the hopes forbid oblivion
and clear a path for the time to come

the red rose from rosario
blossoms in the lapels of ages
where every one has the right to hardship and joy

in a secondhand shop in buenos aires
the children put memory over memory on the shelves
and wash their mouths with morning due mate.


the winds from the western pampas
nested her in the dreams of the poor
who looked for their hopes with burning juniper

the good winds of buenos aires
took her deeper into the hearts of millions
who even today cherish her aura like a dewy garland

if a people cry for three days
many will think that from the fields of sin
there leads a straight path to a happier world

whereas the tearless will never realize
what the calf thinks when meeting the gaucho
and how from love and ambition a time- crusher is made

hope’s lady stretches pink silence on the balcony
and quietly calls the wind to start singing in the end
and to squeeze history under a soldier’s cap

all stand up before her petrified pirouette
to refresh their memories and finally to understand
that every love inevitably contains departure

in the national library in buenos aires
evita and pope john paul II are now neighbors of bronze
and no one knows if they wonder who of them is a bigger saint.


when a mouth opens
when birds flutter passions
and women get up in order to lie down

in every note there is a hidden god
in every step the colors of hope are heard
in every look each recognizes himself

every day the bandoneon fills itself with new magic
every night the stars go mad in the hugs of the new secrets
every morning the fat fly buzzes busily to say it’s too late for repentance

mi buenos aires guerido
strong guardian of the clouds swollen with sorrow
unreachable support for the messengers of love

at el tenbroso a pile of uncommitted sins
cross their paths
with moans of betrayed husbands

at la chacharia silence is best heard
and the sighs evaporate easily
from the cigarette butts lined as guard of honor

today at the abasto market in buenos aires
an arisa from marques’ books gazes at the planes
confident that twenty tears mean really nothing


unfortunately the world is still real
and the poet in the used bookstore across
is still a gringo by his own hearth

he looks like a god except
he is not as much lecherous as those on olympus
but he lives and suffers only for the words

he stretches inside himself
and invites the builders of dreams
to yet another walk in space

every morning he slurps the same question
through the reading-glass dimmed by the hot tea—
aren’t we all an already read book?

a new housewife returns from the market
to her birthplace in palermo
with baskets full of dreams about buenos aires

in the tunnel of life
it is not easy to see light far ahead
while walking steadily backwards

from the bench in san martin park
one has the best view
of this tumbling balloon of an earth


in santo lagoresu the laws of physics
show that even when it stops
time is a substance of all weird people

from the valley of stopped time
every thursday the childless mothers
at the may-day square descend into the womb of hell

everyone begs for what he has not
and every soul seeks its body
as every now seeks its eternity

everyone looks for his right to fly
and always wants to find the right direction
to know in advance that the snow falls to thaw

the rusted mast can serve as a new cane
for keeping upright the heart sagging with beauty
and for shooing green flies from the latest rock-hits

true it isn’t easy to carry a whole age on your back
and to betray dreams every saturday
and to paint white mountains in black paint

and in the end there will always be someone
who would wonder why the mountain is white
against the blackest of nights without dawning.


music is a hideout for birds
and that’s why the gulls madly dance in the sky
and hold one another by their beaks

and when reality disappears
like a condor in the sky’s heights
it always returns in the form of notes

children’s dreams with rose ribbons
leap and perch persistently
upon the keyboard as if in front of mirrors

new notes come sliding along the marble colonnades
and if they wander off to some fields of alien thoughts
they will eventually find rest in paradise

the living sounds of the piano
flutter in the folds of the farthest mountains
and gently wake up the snowdrops

when a white key is played
the first love returns through the open window
only to touch ungainly the festive dress

so many sounds so many glints in the eyes
and even more questions for the ancestors of recoletta—
do you really like that guy chopin?


Risto Lazarov was born on October 3, 1949, in Stip, the Republic of Macedonia. He graduated in Yugoslav literature and the Macedonian language at the Faculty of Philology in Skopje. He is the author of the following books of poetry:

Nokna ptica vo parkot (Night Owl in the Park), 1972;
Jana (Jana), 1980;
Grozen kikot (Nasty Giggle), 1982;
Kapki kisela vistina (Drops of Bitter Truth), 1985;
Let preku okeanot (A Flight Over the Ocean), 1988;
Odroni (Rockfalls), 1989;
Tocka na vrienja (Boiling Point), 1990;
Odvajnadezna (Hardly Hopeful), 1993;
Siljan Strkot uste ednas ja obletuva Makedonija (Siljan the Stork Flies Over Macedonia Once Again), 1995;
Siljan the Stork Flies Over Macedonia Oce Again (in English), 1996; (in Bulgarian) 2006.
Istorija bolezni (The History of Illness) - in Russian, 1996
Jave (The Reality), 1997
Herakle (The Heracle), 1999, (in Slovenian) 2006
Kolumbo (Columbos),2000.
Trojca za preferans (Three for Swedish Whist) , 2001.
Odmolcena, 2003.
Nenadejna, 2005; (in Albanian), 2006.
Cehopek, 2006, 2007, (in Czech) 2007.
Srede(In the Middle) , 2008.
Sonot na koalata (The Koala’s Dream), 2009.
Izbrani dela vo cetiri toma (Selected Works in Four Volumes), 2009.

Book of poetry for children:
Gorjan vo Dorjan (Gorjan in Dorjan), 1988;
Od Bitola pojdov (Departure From Bitola), 1990.

His collection of poems Night Owl in the Park won the Mlad Borec award and 8 Noemvri award of the town of Stip (both in 1972). His collection of poems Jana won the 13 Noemvri award of the city of Skopje (1980), and his book of poetry for children Gorjan in Dorjan won the Struga Poetry Evenings award for the best book for children in the period between two festivals (1988). He also won the “Aco Shopov” award of the Writers’ Association of Macedonia for best poetry book in 2006 as well as of the “Miladinov Brothers” award at the Struga Poetry Evenings for the ebst poetry bookba a Macedonian author in 2008. In 2010 he won the “Poetsko zhezlo” award at the poetry manifestation Praznik na lipite in Skopje and the Velja kutija award at the Makedonski duhovni konaci poetry gathe¬ring. His poems have been translated into several languages, and presented in several anthologies of modern Macedonian poetry.

His poetry books were published in English, Russian, Czech, Serbian, Slovenian, Albanian, and Bulgarian language.

He translated into Macedonian books and poems by many authors from English, Czech, Serbian, Bulgarian and other languages.

He is also the author of several books in the field of journalism.

Member of the Writers’ Association of Macedonia since 1972 and since 2005 he has been presiding the Macedonian PEN Center.

He lives in Skopje and works there as a journalist. At present, he is Director and Editor-in-Chief of the Telma, an independent Television in Skopje.