The powerful and deeply moving work of the Serbian poet Aleksandar Ristovíc, published for the first time in the United states.
Make me a long coat of heavy cloth, tailor,
the kind that won't fray,
and of a dark color,
so no one will notice the cigarette ashes.
Make the dark trousers of the same material,
to last as long as I want them to,
wearing them to visit many cities, villages,
and other out-of-the-way places.
* * * * *
Make me a dark jacket, tailor, with wide, deep pockets
to clench my fists in, while watching the one
they're dragging from my table into the bushes,
which begin to shake after a few moments.
-from "Gingerbread Heart"
Whether addressing pigs, speaking for prostitutes, or considering lavatories, the great Serbian poet Ristovic (1933-94) revealed a capacious yet unsentimental sympathy with the despised, downtrodden, and disregarded. Devil's Lunch, hitherto unpublished in America, is a quirky and moving selection of his work greatly enriched by Charles Simic's earthy and authentic translations. Simic, himself a Pulitzer Prize-winning contemporary poet, allows us to fully appreciate a major talent who always spoke with humor, honesty, and compassion.