from my old scrapbook

Soul with the capital

Today celebrates mom’s cousin, our Soul with the capital S. She paints, designs jewellery, sows and learns Italian, to name but a few.

When she last visited us (pridi cai is still standing!) she brought me a very special gift (well, not only that, there was also her painting!): a fifty-year-old book titled “Nuova poesia Jugoslava” (“New Yugoslav Poetry”) with poems of ex-Yugoslav, that is to say Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, and Macedonian poets, in original and Italian language side by side.

She already requested one poem from there to use in her Italian class, and here is another by Slovenian poet Kajetan Kovič, in English (found online) and Italian (from the book). I loved this poem growing up and had it in my scrap book which has since been replaced with this blog. I dedicate it to her cleaning robot. 😀

Robots, by Kajetan Kovič
Translation by Veno Taufer & Michael Scammel

Robots are on the march.
The first robot is rectangular.
The stone in his hand
is a cube.
And a cube is a cube from time immemorial
and all that is, is a cube.
Robots are on the march.
The second robot is round.
The stone in his hand
is a sphere.
And a sphere is a sphere from time immemorial
And all that is, is a sphere.
Robots are on the march.
The stone in the sky, the stone on earth
has no choice.
Today it is stone, tomorrow a cube.
Today it is stone, tomorrow a sphere.
Today it is stone, tomorrow a robot.
Robots are on the march.
The cube smashes the sphere.
The sphere kills the cube.
For the cube is a cube forevermore.
For the sphere is a sphere forevermore.
Robots are on the march.
For as long as the cube is rectangular.
For as long as the sphere is round.

I robot
Translated by Giacomo Scotti

I robot marciano.

Il primo è quadrangolare.
Il sasso nella sua mano
è un cubo.
E il cubo è sempre cubo e tutto
quanto esiste è cubo.

I robot marciano.

È sferico il secondo.
Il sasso sulla sua mano
è una sfera.
E la sfera è una sfera sempre e tutto
quanto esiste è sfera.

I robot marciano.

Sasso in cielo, sasso in terra
non ha scelta.
Oggi è sasso, domani è cubo.
Oggi è sasso, domani è sfera.
Oggi è sasso, domani è robot.

I robot marciano.

Il cubo frantuma la sfera.
La sfera uccide il cubo.
Perché in eterno il cubo resta cubo.
Perché in eterno la sfera resta sfera.

I robot marciano.

Finché il cubo sarà quadrangolare.
Finché la sfera sarà sferica.

Here is another text that she can use for her Italian class, the song that is currently everywhere in Italy. Francesca Michielin ended up second in Sanremo and will represent Italy at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Indeed, there is no degree of separation.

Francesca Michielin: Nessun grado di separazione

È la prima volta che mi capita
Prima mi chiudevo in una scatola
Sempre un po’ distante dalle cose della vita
Perché così profondamente non l’avevo mai sentita
E poi ho sentito un’emozione accendersi veloce
E farsi strada nel mio petto senza spegnere la voce
E non sentire più tensione solo vita dentro di me

Nessun grado di separazione
Nessun tipo di esitazione
Non c’è più nessuna divisione tra di noi
Siamo una sola direzione in questo universo
Che si muove
Non c’è nessun grado di separazione

Davo meno spazio al cuore e più alla mente
Sempre un passo indietro
E l’anima in allerta
E guardavo il mondo da una porta
Mai completamente aperta
E non da vicino

E no non c’è alcuna esitazione
Finalmente dentro di me
Nessun grado di separazione
Nessun tipo di esitazione
Non c’è più nessuna divisione tra di noi
Siamo una sola direzione in questo universo
Che si muove

E poi ho sentito un’emozione accendersi veloce
E farsi strada nel mio petto senza spegnere la voce

And here, let me give Soul back a little present that she made for me and I have it right here at all times. (It’s NOT limoncello!)

Tanti auguri e cin cin!

Photo: MM + VS (the tree)
Featured photo: newlyweds (well, almost) in Capalbio

Photo: MM

“You know what children, artists and madmen have in common: they know that everything in this world happens for the first time. There are no repeat performances.” —Vitomil Zupan

Gut, besser, Grüße und cin cin zum Geburtstag!

WPC: The Doors are for afterwards

… when your mind is already gone, said a critic. I must say that I love both The Doors as in the band, and taking photos of various doors, especially here in Italy.

Every Thursday I post a few for Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors challenge (here are all my entries and the featured photo is from one of them) but I liked posting doors (and windows) even before I’d learnt of it.

And before having this blog, I assembled so many Pinterest doors that I had to put them onto a dedicated board, together with arches, windows and stairs (none of these are my photos).

I embrace this opportunity to post all my recently taken doors photos for this week’s WPC so that I’ll take new ones even more gladly.

And since it’s today that Jim Morrison died in Paris 44 years ago, I will sprinkle my favourite Morrison lyrics abundantly around like you wouldn’t believe. You did ask for it. 🙂

Words dissemble
Words be quick
Words resemble walking sticks

Plant them
They will grow
Watch them waver so

I’ll always be
a word-man
Better than a birdman


I see you live on Love Street
There’s this store where the creatures meet
I wonder what they do in there
Summer Sunday and a year
I guess I like it fine, so far

Bomarzo, Monster Park, the Leaning House

We’re perched headlong on the edge of boredom
We’re reaching for death on the end of a candle
We’re trying for something
That’s already found us

Give us a creed
To believe
A night of Lust
Give us trust in
The Night

Montalto di Castro

The music and voices are all around us
Choose they croon the Ancient Ones
The time has come again
Choose now, they croon beneath the moon
Beside an ancient lake
Enter again the sweet forest
Enter the hot dream come with us
Everything is broken up and dances

Montalto di Castro

Wow, I’m sick of doubt
Live in the light of certain
I’m sick of dour faces
Staring at me from the T.V.
Tower. I want roses in
my garden bower; dig?
Royal babies, rubies
must now replace aborted
Strangers in the mud

Montalto di Castro

Morning found us calmly unaware
Noon burn gold into our hair
At night, we swim the laughing sea
When summer’s gone
Where will we be

Isola del Giglio

I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft

I will not go
Prefer a Feast of Friends
To the Giant family

Photo: MM
Lyrics: Jim Morrison / The Doors

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Door.”

Never mind mind, essence is not essential, and matter does not matter.

—Nelson Goodman

Backs of Isola del Giglio. Photo: MM

The second quote in this three-day challenge is from my scrapbook which I’ve kept since starting high school. It proves to me that my tastes haven’t really changed so much during all this time. I’ve always loved word play and absurdities and language. Except that this quote is not really absurd, of course. The best never are.

The Haymaker

The Haymaker
by Tone Kuntner
Translated by Manja Maksimovič

You were a haymaker
in a flowery skirt.
It was a lovely day,

it was a lovely day.

For a long time after
we shed a whiff of hay.

Over here. Photo: MM

Grabljica – Tone Kuntner

Bila si grabljica
v rožnatem krilu.
Bil je lep dan,

bil je lep dan.

Potem sva še dolgo
dišala po senu.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Three stanzas from Oscar Wilde’s poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol with three images from Roma.
Yet each man kills the thing he loves
  By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
  Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
  The brave man with a sword!

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Some kill their love when they are young,
  And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
  Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
  The dead so soon grow cold.

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Some love too little, some too long,
  Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
  And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
  Yet each man does not die.

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Photo: MM

Waterfall by Boris A. Novak

Once upon a time I met Boris A. Novak (Anorak for friends, which we aren’t).

v 113a (2)

We had a little chat and I told him which my favourite poem of his (and one of the best worldwide) will always be. This one:

Vodomet: Boris A. Novak

noga igra nogomet

roka igra rokomet


lulek igra vodomet


noga riše sled

roka boža cvet


lulek zaliva svet

Then I added that I’m a translator and my wish is to translate this poem into English. He gave a little chuckle with the undertone “Impossible”. I like impossible things. Here it is.

Waterfall, by Boris A. Novak

(translated by Manja Maksimovič)

foot plays football

hand plays handball


willie plays waterfall


foot forges a footprint

hand handles a herb


willie waters the world

I ask his friends if they can kindly notify him of this milestone. Thank you!

Poem from the board

There once was a board on my wall:


It included many things, memories, places, each item deserving a special entry. Look, there is Trpanj and a little English town in the middle of nowhere, and postcards from A. and R. and one of a huge rock made of shells in Karpathos, which we first bought and then located the rock in nature and it was nowhere as huge as it appears, and the Kiss, and the little pin calling for 40 days without alcohol, which N. gave me for my 40th birthday and I didn’t see the zero and said: “Oh, four days, I can do that!”, and Jeanette, and Slavoj’s hand, and Mickey, and my tarok cards, and a very old cartoon from Mladina magazine saying “Sad ću ja turbo da uključim” (I’ll switch to turbo now), and poems: e.e., Kosovel, a short one on tango, and this one by Austrian poet, here in the original:

Ernst Jandl 

zweierlei handzeichen

ich bekreuzige mich

vor jeder kirche

ich bezwetschkige mich

vor jedem obstgarten


wie ich ersteres

tue weiss jeder katholik

wie ich letzteres tue

ich allein

I just found this poem translated into English by Peter Lach – Newinsky in his Word and image lab:

Two Kinds of Hand Signals


Before every church

I cross myself.

Before every orchard

I plum myself.


How I do the first:

every catholic knows.

How I do the second:

I alone.

But sometimes it happens that a poem really comes to life in a completely obscure little language, such as ours (close-up from the board, the postcard with the poem used to be distributed freely in a Ljubljana bookshop).


For two happy friends

I have a friend from the early age, from the times when the fear of dogs still had to be overcome with her help, when the passed bicycle test called for the biggest celebration, and when the Atlas and its magical maps were only reachable by a flight of imagination. The Zbilje lake was closer to hand, and wet for real. And then I got the first postcard – was it from Turkey? Or Barcelona? – and I thought: she has got what she wanted. And that was before Australia. I’m happy that I meet her every time I visit my old country and that her dog (because there must be always a dog, always female, always happy) is doing better. Here is another happy dog for her:

When I was going to the university, I made another friend, even though we shared the classroom in the high school as well, just at different times, and her good friend once found my forgotten scrapbook under his desk and scribbled something in it, which must have been closest to someone accidentally coming upon this blog nowadays. She must be a friend whom, for some strange reason, I see least of all my friends. (I wish to alert mutual friends to kindly direct her to this location so that she can see this.) However, she was a part of the surprise package deal that I got for my 40th birthday, and that was indeed a memorable occasion. She was always a hippie soul but ended up in a (in my mind) highly unlikely political job. Talking to her is always an experience and I wish the day will come (or a week) when we can talk a lot.

In the meantime, I’m posting a poem by Leonard Cohen which she wrote in my scrapbook a long time ago:

the 15-year-old girls
I wanted when I was 15
I have them now
it is very pleasant
it is never too late
I advise you all
to become rich and famous

(From: Leonard Cohen: The Energy of Slaves, 1972)

And here is another little something that will always remind me of her: the dandruff into snow scene from Breakfast Club, because she likes it so much:

dandruff snow

And what do both women have in common? They are both quite tall, direct, honest, heart-felt, with a wicked laugh. But what joins them on this occasion is that they were born on the same day. This day was today 40-something years ago, the same year as me. And a good one it was.

Happy birthday, M+M!

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

The Word

Tomaž Šalamun 1941-2014
Riposa in pace

The Word

Translated by Henry R. Cooper, Jr.

The word is the sole basis of the world

I am its servant and master.

And though the spirit sends atoms to

smell, touch, hear, we are in fact

in a field where we are equal with the gods.

The tongue touches nothing that

would be new. There is no Doomsday,

no higher being. The Assumption is

in a concentric thing where everything is,

the visible and the invisible, more than a grain

of sand. The perception of things seems nearer,

but that’s no criterion. I repeat: things

are no criterion. The criterion is in us

ourselves like a final dissolution.

Death is only a mistake in naming

those whose light has been concealed.

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Photo: MM

Tomaž Šalamun: Beseda

Beseda je edini temelj sveta.

Jaz sem njen služabnik in gospodar.

In čeprav duh pošilja atome, da

vohajo, tipajo, čutijo, smo zares

v polju, kjer smo z bogovi enaki.

Jezik se ne dotika ničesar, kar

bi bilo novo. Ni poslednje sodbe,

ni višjega. Vnebovzetje je

v koncentričnem, kjer je vse, kar

vidimo in ne vidimo, več kot zrno

peska. Zazrtost stvari se zdi bližja,

a to ni kriterij. Ponavljam: stvari

niso kriterij. Kriterij je v nas

samih kot dokončna razpustitev.

Smrt je samo napaka v imenovanju

tistih, ki jim je bila zakrita luč. 

When your mind is gone

December the 8th is a peculiar day. Not only is it the birthday of a great friend, but it also marks the occasion of one birth and one death in the realm of music and life as such. Both have left quite a mark.

Not only me, even my parents were non-existent when the first thing occurred, namely the birth of Jim Morrison. I will not repeat his life story, read No One Here Gets Out Alive, and believe it or not, as you prefer.

The Beatles and the Stones are for blowing your mind; the Doors are for afterwards, when your mind is already gone,” said critic Gene Youngblood back in the day. We shall see about that, but my 18-year-old self was digging that shit. I collected all of their music (with the help from a friend of my parents), I was at Jim’s grave (with exactly the friend who is celebrating today), I saw Oliver Stone’s film in Paris with her, and the next time I was in Paris I took my family in search of the house where he died. So understanding they were 🙂

Here is my favourite track (I saw that some people say Nirvana ripped it for Smells Like Teen Spirit):

When I was ten years old, “STOP”, the magazine that was in our home all my life, had a man on the cover with a black ribbon in the corner. I barely knew who he was but could feel that something major occurred. One of the things that you can’t really believe just happened and nobody does anything about it, sort of like NATO bombing Belgrade, or when they added the ninth year to compulsory primary school (I mean, really, children, no revolution?).

But yes, John was dead, shot, in front of his New York home (and Denis Leary would add: “And Yoko stood right by him and nothing”).

White is the colour of my favourite album and this track is pretty much mind-blowing all on its own (no matter what critics say and no need to be performed by any Nirvana members with Paul McCartney):

But I wish to finish with a song by John Lennon which brings many happy memories. Now you can rest in peace, John.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈