You are skippi or Evropski – from Europe?
Da, ja isto – me too – but you have lived here all life, yes?
I am only here few years.
What do you do? Oh, poet!
We have many poet in my country,
is long tradition, very politik, you know?
Telling pipples istina – the truth.
What you write?
What? Kako to? How can you no be writing politik
if you are poet?
Frenk, slu”saj – listen to me
when I was mlad “covjek – a young man
my country communist was. Eh, bastards.
We pipples no can say nothing, you know?
Every place bastard informer has, schools must learn
bloody communist. Je bempti, bastards!
It was poetry, it was stories, this was all we have,
za sje’canju – for the remembering.
You know this communist bastards, they want us to forget
who am we, who we have been, yes.
It was stories, pjesme – songs – you know,
they tell us, they tell our children, Frenk. They say
why do we exist, why are we proud, why we suffer.
Communisti, they make the smell, sve prljavo – everything dirty.
They are loud, like orchestra drums and trumpeti,
make noise too big for cello i violin, but is important –
if you have music ear – is important to listen
for little bit that violin. Sometimes when big noise bastard
is taking zrak – the breath – sometimes you can hear him.
This communisti was apocalypse for my pipples, you know?
Was poets, songs keep my pipple alive
inside their hearts where this bastards cannot touch.
Pa tako, jedan dan – so, one day, all sudden,
communisti are gone – pht! – no more.
But this violin, this poetry is playing after apocalypse.
Everyone can hear him now. Prekrasno –
is very beautiful – and, is sound of our hearts.
So, Frenki boy, you are politik, yes.
You are violin in orchestra of big freedoms. Yes Frenk, you.
No, is not bullshit, is poets who will be left to play this –
kako se ka”ze – how you say him – is poets
who will be left to play the post-apocalyptic violin.
Yes Frenk, you are the politika of the pipples.
© Frank Prem (writing as Frank Faust) 2001, 2016
The Dan O’Connell Hotel in Carlton (Victoria) has for many years hosted Open Mic poetry on Saturday afternoons. It was at The Dan that I first learnt to read my material to an audience, using a microphone, lectern and the public stage.
Back in June 2000 the organisers ran a competition for a $100 prize for the best poem written that contained the phrase: ‘Who will be left to play the post-apocalyptic violin’.
There were something like 60 poems read on the afternoon and Politika of the Pipples won the prize. It was just about the biggest thrill of my life to that point.
The poem is written with a very particular voice that anyone who has grown up or spent significant time around immigrants to an English speaking country will likely recognise.
Hope you enjoy reading the piece as much as I enjoyed writing and presenting it to an audience.