In homage to A. G., J. Sz. and all the others

I saw the bolshiest minds of my minority in the wreckage of madness,

stripped hysterical naked in night streets named after heroes of the

people, pissing at saplings and gabbling politics in the silent dawn,

looking for a last angry bar, only to end up in some backyard rack-rent

chickenshed on the edge of town and sit scratching their student bums to

the slap of cards as near as dammit under the starry sky;

I saw the bolshiest minds of my minority in the wreckage of dawn pontoon,

I saw the ones

who went out to puke and never came back, another jumped into their place,

and even the dog didn’t bark as they left because there was only so much

interest to go round in this system by and for the people, where there was

plenty of biting but mainly by others,

who stumbled away from the worn dawn-pontoon tables towards the executive

chair that waited with open arms, but failed to find happiness amid this

pandemic unhappiness,

who studied night and day in order to wipe their arses with their degree

parchment in the spirit of Roman or whatever law as they sank to their

knees before the High and Mighty Judges

who knelt in turn before some other imbecile in universal imbecility.

I saw the bolshiest minds of my minority step out, only for the Pitiless

et Other-Lingoed Plod of Inexorable Fate to knee them in the balls with a

“Stani bre, what’s the game?” because they were too gobsmacked to trot out

an answer or couldn’t find their identity card, which identified nothing

but their own impersonality and unidentifiability, I saw the ones

who left their villages for this grey provincial city with little more

Serbian than “Ja sam student at the Hungarian Faculty”, then went home and

dropped out of sight, taught the kids well or badly while Hungarian

schools lasted, then found a catatonic peace,

who never overturned even a symbolic pingpong table in rage –

what’s the point, you’ll never bust the ball – and sometime

later they might have said this or that but didn’t believe it

anyway, smacked the bat across their mouth and said “who

cares a horse’s fart”,

who were born in this grey provincial city and tried to identify

with that bare-arsed fact, then went abroad and had no-one

to write to and nothing to write, so they didn’t bother, but

they still saw Vojvodina sweep-wells in their mind’s eye

even if they’d never seen a sweep-well in their lives, and

wept the foreign soil mushy beneath their feet till they sank

without trace in the swamp of their tears,

who joined the Foreign Legion, because it has no ideology and if

it does at least it’s a different one, soon changed their minds

and tried to get out at any price but the fence was too high,

so they settled for butchering blacks in place of pigs, calling

them “fucking cannibals” through gobfuls of roasted human

flesh, for even in Africa the son of man has to keep his

(non-aligned) moral bearings,

who made themselves a load of money or didn’t, actually most of

them didn’t, though they came visiting in their big Western

cars and mouthed off at the system without knowing how

right they were, then rebelliously put up electric Christmas

trees in their front yards,

but made a killing stealing pinetrees from the Hills and selling

them at a rip-off price, then went back West and struggled

on tiling johns while we smuggled Italian jeans, and then

they vanished from view and then and then –

then nothing…

I saw the best minds of my “nation” leave and stay, suffer, howl,

scratch their itches, sweep facts under carpets and

confusedly want whatever, big or small;

I saw the best minds of my generation in the wreckage of

madness, artists stripped hysterical naked in downtown

Neoplanta, Porta Catholica,

who swilled all sorts of drinks in nearby bars, then waved their

pricks at nuns and pigeons as decreed by the zeitgeist and

their fiery blood, then actually did something, besides

pouring red wine into each others’ pockets for a joke, taking

the piss out of the toilet lady or trying to chat up the


then actually did something, and if they didn’t, at least felt they

were God amidst their artistic ecstasy and the soft organ

music seeping from the church, and as the two angels

fluttered round the hands of the steeple clock, their spines

still crawled, for a war was coming between the Archangels

of Art and Politics – and so on. (Ugh!)

I saw the best minds of our generation in the wreckage of

madness, angelheaded intellectuals burning in the dark

machinery of power while the eternal slogan – Long Live

Freedom, Long Live The Machine! – declared them

darkness, world without end, amen.

So where do we go tomorrow, my friend?

Novi Sad, 1990 (just before the war broke out in former Yugoslavia)

Translated by the author and Francis R. Jones

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