We are pushing this n-tieth exile…
by Nina Živančević

    			For my friend, anarcho-anthropologist, Comrade in exile, brother in Arms, David Graeber
  1. We are all 99 percent
  2. And I am 100 percent sure
  3. That exile is a chained melody, babble in chains
  4. Transformational grammar in pain
  5. Weak thought in labor
  6. Laughter in distress
  7. Smile in despair
  8. Love was in the air but high anxiety
  9. Got hold of it,
  10. The better part of my Id wanted
  11. To quit this place of forlorn hopes
  12. Moons ago,
  13. Much earlier than your Trintignant unique image got to these shores
  14. Oh, when you see, my king D.,
  15. My high-school Levinasian royalty,
  16. A Mabuhay forest moving to your private garden you should run away,
  17. A field-work for eternity, seashells instead of money
  18. Getting paid in spices and sunglasses
  19. Cleaning the filthiest gutters in this new land
  20. Draining your students minds for posterity
  21. Please don't cry when nobody sees you-
  22. The spiritual court will never grant mercy to me nor you alone
  23. Oh, when I saw you there, you silly giggly thing,
  24. In a Portobello courtyard stuffed with dolls,
  25. I knew I wouldn't escape the glitter of my destiny,
  26. The shiny trinkets in the jaws of your scrutiny,
  27. The totem pole of this finality, and it was
  28. Then they had dinner for us on the upper floor of
  29. Your dwelling and the rest is history…
  1. Do you know that nani means “thank you” in Malayan and that the Tamiils are not really black?
  2. Was that fieldwork in Madagascar really a lesson in anxiety?
  3. And is this European field-work tougher than the other aboriginal,
  4. Ethical ground where they feed us to the sharks and larks
  5. Disappearing in light dusk of the British lakes?
  6. How could they ever think we were just
  7. Some fakes
  8. Feeding ourselves on tons of pure
  9. Chocolate, out of sadness?
  10. We are 99 percent, you said,
  11. And I say that Exile is 100 percent torture, mixed with the powder of Oblivion
  12. Reading sadness;
  13. Language is space pointing at geometry of our souls
  14. Down by Ashbery’s lacustrine
  15. Cities and
  16. Up beyond Joycian silent hills,
  17. Where verse is in labor,
  18. Delivering a child of street speech,
  19. Without punctuation. And you,
  20. With those bright feathers that
  21. You placed up the totem pole near the canoe, floating down that
  22. Aboriginal river of your singing voice...
  23. Wait, are we the strangers all this young in here? Coming
  24. From some very, very young
  25. And infantile tribe?
  26. And what are we to do with the shamans dealing with
  27. Stupidity and administration, in every damned shtetl we passed through?
  28. As if the algebra of heartache had
  29. To knock down every wall
  30. And every barbed wire we ran into…
  31. The comfort of strangers is
  32. The pivotal moment of deep sleep,
  33. Into which I sink having met the Big Other
  34. Who tends to your architectural structural network
  35. Where the intuition slumbers
  36. And the doors of perceptive dungeon
  37. Open up;
  38. It was Vienna,
  39. And it was 1893…
  40. My ankle was broken and your mind elsewhere;
  41. Hey, the King of silly laughter,
  42. Listen to your heartbeat:
  43. Tick tack tick tack tick tack and yes, tick
  44. The answer after which
  45. This world is not going to be better off
  46. It's not going to save the poor
  47. But just decorate them
  48. With the Maori shells
  49. Instead of money
  50. And was it Shakespeare who had seen us all in a huge dungeon?
  51. And was it Andrew Marvell who laughed it off with his
  52. Ha ha ha ha ha ha
  53. On his lost road to Damascus?
  54. And was it John Donne who could have done without the world
  55. Painted all in green hues and shadows?
  56. Pkk and Kobané are surely not going to
  57. Survive without you, so you need not hold onto your colonial stick and
  58. That trickster’s top hat, and
  59. In this Temple here,
  60. In this god-forlorn Shtetl,
  61. I'm in a courtroom full of flowers.
  62. The spiritual court is in session
  63. And some red liquid leaking from the ante-chamber of my heart. Shhhhhh…
  64. The violins are playing and Chagall
  65. Is playing chess with Duchamp…
  1. Exile is such a long nonsensical thing, your majesty,
  2. And this Song of Songs
  3. Is about to shut my screen off, and just before it all ends now,
  4. Now you should know--that
  5. In order to give, one has to really get,
  6. That instant of music
  7. Oozing from the crack
  8. In the Tree of life painted in Kabbalah
  9. Ah, the tree, my King of Davids,
  10. And the soft breeze from the Mediterranean cliffs,
  11. So
  12. Elohim and Elohena, thus
  13. To life!
  14. Elohim and Elohena
  15. And thus,
  16. To life!!
  17. Elohim,
  18. Elohim, Elohena,
  19. I see Him,
  20. The way I see
  21. You,
  22. The huge
  23. Speckle of light
  24. In the radiant Temple
  25. Washed in light!
    			Dawnbreak in Paris, October 14, 2015
Packingtown Review – Vol.9, Fall 2017

Award-winning poet, essayist, fiction writer, playwright, art critic, translator and contributing editor of NY Arts from Paris, Serbian-born Nina Živančević has published thirteen books of poetry. She has also written three books of short stories and two novels. Her book of essays on Miloš Crnjanski (her doctoral thesis) was published in Paris, New York and Belgrade.

  1. Mark Wyatt
    People’s Republic of China, 1995art