Poetry in English

Excerpts from the chapbook “All the names are occupied, and one is vacant”

Author: Gala Uzryutova

Translated by Canadian poet Stuart Ross & the author

(Upcoming, Proper Tales Press, Canada, Cobourg)

Из окна поезда между Любляной и Штаньело



Poems of Gala Uzryutova in the translation of Tobias Kite

The house into which we were brought,

turned out to be too small,

and we had to live outside.

Some people were born in that small house,

they knocked inside, and we opened the door – outside,

they came to our place.

- What a big house – they said. – How many square meters?

- We don't know, we just go, and it doesn't end there.

- So it's possible to put a lot of small houses here,

and we all can live here.

They have placed their little houses here,

from which people appeared. They knocked,

and we hadn't time to open the doors.

Just opened the one door, they already battered to second

and rang the third doorbell.

There were so many people in our house that we hadn't place for us,

and when they knocked on the three hundred seventh door again,

we let the guests in and went into their small house.

We never got out,

we never opened the door:

no one – knocked – on the door – of our little house



don't touch don't touch him, full field.
the grass goes with him to the elbow,
can see the top – can't hear the legs.

but the sea, but the salt, but the millstones

grind the swallows into

black and white.
do not touch the swallows.

what should he do

with your face in the window,

if you look into the room, not out.
if you were born in this one – don't stand in that side.


snow like a frozen light

crumbles not on all.

his name is not – but the sea, but it's close, but the salt, but he only has to marry

the grass


all the snow I missed,
for five years,
when I didn't go to my father's village,
fell out today,
and does not fit into my shovel,
that you gave me in the third grade.
I shoved the snow in the pockets
of your coat,
put the snow in the windows of your old car,
and the snow goes to the cellar,
can't see the windows of the bathhouse,
and your boots are full of snow.
he passed over the fence and soon
will fill the Volga to the bottom.
a little more  – and the snow will come in the throat

father, give me a bigger shovel


Bones that were gnawed by the dogs remind us of winter,
the white takes up the asphalt in advance.
Only pairs walk along the shore.
Your name has been blistering and bleeding,
the whole day begins with emptiness,
and will never be the whole again.
The round peel of the eaten apple is slowly filled with snow.
The tavern already nailed to the door:
"Closed for the winter"



where is the father?

where is your father's father?

I myself not by yourself am

through the sliding moat walk

such a small small – and right next to the moat

to the moat

whether it''s impossible not to say that – silent silent

carrying carrying it's all – who need it – someone – who need it

no pair of every kind

your wake-up and staying and rolling

where is the father

where is your father's father's father




we can say these things don't exist, we can deny everything.

anyway we talk about the intangible, and this can't be verified.

we can not return to the previous state – to the normal circle,

our salvation is to invent a new wheel to spin it,

and live the way we didn't live before.

but at one time it will not be the same, and we will not return to what it was.

we are not a nation of protest, says the Slovenian philosopher,

it's not in our nature.

frequent helicopters over Tivoli remind of the sky,

the flatland reminds conservatives, the mountains – leftist,

but there is no shouting in the mountainous country.

go out to the flatland – say,

go to the mountains – say,

the voice sounds different, although the words are the same.

these things do not exist, but we can deny it


Whose houses are these?

I would say – nobody's

If there was a head in the window

and an aster was blooming in the pot,

they would be somebody's,

little another's houses.

And now life is new, taken out

from the mailbox – carried,

name at least one to whom the letter came

through the fallow and through the pines-outskirts.

With a full bag of letters passes-bends over,

from that side – house's numbers begin,

from this one – end.


to understand the Slovenian, you don't have to learn the language, you have to learn the hiking,

the local explains to me on the bus.

I climb the hills again and again,

I climb the hills again and again,

I climb the hills again and again,

the locals wave hiking sticks, as a weapon,

no vertex will stand.

there is an obstacle for everyone here,

you just choose it by your size and overcome it,

then you can choose more difficult obstacle and to overcome it,

without even making a victorious scream, without telling anyone about the conquest of a new land,

but simply drinking a radler on a top

and going down silently,

quiet knights with a saluki on a leash.

rising to the next hill, I feel like I'm getting smaller and smaller,

and Slovenia – bigger and bigger.

it seems, it will never end.

I check – no, my shoes are still tight, I didn't decrease.

but the pants are already sagged – I need to be on the alert.

don't rush – the mountains will not go anywhere.

what is above is always seems closer than it is


languages are memorized in childhood,

when the light is inroom and extended,

when behind the dotted fence line –

no table, no chairs,

and one big blizzard is,

but lilies of the valley on the white are not white,

they, like all pines, are running.


one with long arms – picks cherries,

one with grapevoice – leads the people across the bridge,

one with his winterfather – has no years.


languages are forgotten in childhood,

but they are still hum of bees all summer

in a snowstorm from the window and lunch


tongue numb me or not me

to me or to me from me

about the day, about one of the days –

not about this one


to hide the day before the noon

at least up to eleven

would mean

to abscond in this floor light

that nobody has been able

that nobody has made it so much

of light

as on that day before the noon




he and his small country,

resembled macedonian plum. his back

resembled a peel, made of old shirts.

in translucent skin of the fog, it changed the color

and seemed new.

he drove the fish out of his mouth with words, he drove

and they fell into the onion rings. falling

on a dirty apron of a fishwife on the summer market.

she run the slippery scales of hands in the first ice,

he got out his wife. he got out

his wallet, got out the change and gave it away, but coins

always been flighty.

he took the fish, carried her to the church. took

candle and hammered the pile in the sand. he left

his wife on the sand. the candle scaled

on the gills,

scraping the air





Bees can prolong their life to five or six times,

when it's necessary.

When it's necessary,

his shoulders start somewhere on Lenin's Street, and the fingers

last through Budapesht,

while not fall on someone else's photo from the Baltic Sea coast.

His hand is big enough to squeeze in one motion whites,

that crumple light in all hotels of the world,

But his hands always fit in two coat pockets.

When it's necessary.



I don't have any of your photos

it means you exist

whether the light mixed with the dust doesn't exist

falling on the hands skin and invisible

whether you touch it or it

carves you out of the darkness

very vociferous

was and railed out

was and railed out

steppe in you

was and trampled

yes was yes trampled

not yours steppe

was but not yours steppe

He carried rocker through the steppe

water he carries water

yes those waters poured out but not yours they are not yours




Ulyanovsk. The name under the snow

Lenin breathes under the snow


it melts, and he doesn't

over the hill one can hear the river

can you enter the river twice?

snow as a frozen light doesn't crumble on everyone

city with someone else's surname

Oblomov's snowy footprints

melt and turn into the Volga




For Tina,

who said to me

«I can’t believe you went to Domžale*»



how to find a way out of your own house

to at least get mail?

the postman has already put the yellow bike on the porch


pošta! pošta!**

how to find a way out of your own house

go to the sound of his voice

pošta! pošta!

right left or straight

pošta! pošta!

which side is louder?

pošta! pošta!

there is someone's house everywhere you go

Domžale is everywhere

pošta! pošta!

when you come here

you straightway find other people's houses

when you live here, you still need to search for your own home

have you brought me the letter today, Dragan?



*Domžale (Slovenian) – the small city near Ljubljana, Slovenia

** pošta! pošta! (Slovenian) – mail! mail!







each Slovenian has two centimeters of the sea shore

per person – just two, can you imagine?

the girl explains in the Ljubljana center

reporting into the microphone

our population is two million

the length of the sea line is 46 kilometers

two centimeters of shore per person

if she had a megaphone

she could lead the demonstration

for a kilometer of the sea coast for each

but she’s leading the city tour further





the big will never be bigger than the very big

she fits in the old red Volvo

which is located in the city of Škofja Loka*

which is located in Slovenia

this is the way we live

the way we are arranged

the way everything is arranged by matryoshka principle

the way it unfolds

the way it taken out

Škofja Loka Škofja Loka children shout

as if repeating the old counting

repeating the bells chanting

you lead

and I stay here

the small will never be smaller than the smallest



* Škofja Loka – the small medieval town in Slovenia





you need to be very brave to live in such silence

which amplifies all your sounds all your voices by several times

you even didn't set foot

and they already recognize you by the shuffling of old shoes

a child is not even born yet

and everyone already says what a loud like his father

the rooster has not yet crowed

and you already woke up

standing on a hill and you hear

the incomprehensible rattle

that is chattering, shaking the air

does anyone else hear this?

or does every sound have an address?

maybe it was delivered to me by mistake?


finally at the foot of the hill you notice a girl

leading the scooter behind her – the rattling steed

she is jumping on it and the rattle is turning into a gallop

apples roll down a hill and turn right you turn left

if you say a word you will be found

because your voice is not as wheezing as Tomage's one

and not as rough as Marco's one

not as husky as Aleshe's one

but previously unheard here

do you recognize it by yourself?

- dober dan*

- good day


*dober dan (Slovenian) – good day





when it’s midday in Stanjel* and people disappear,

the rustling of lizards is only heard.

they cross the road,

clink glasses in the cafe,

climb the walls,

pick grapes.

welcome to Stanjel, they repeat to those

who climbed the hill, and give their tails.

tear off and make a wish out loud,

tomorrow the tails will grow back again.

do lizards ever come down from the hill?

will at least one of them slide down

to the train station supervisor?

I was the only one who went out of the empty train here,

she was the only one who met me here.

but lizards crawl higher and higher,

I am tearing off the tail

and going down to the train tracks,

it's two more hours to the Ljubljana train.

someone is learning the Italian melody on the trumpet,

the wild vine is rustling the tile,

the tail is waiting in my hand.

the supervisor smokes, puts on a red hat, meets the train,

smokes and answers the phone,

smokes, puts on a red hat, meets the train.

if you had your own lizard,

would you tear off her tail every day,

watching the way it grows,

the way your desires grow?

I am handing the tail to the supervisor and getting into the train coach,

I do not hear what desire she made

because of the train noise, beating to the Russian rap beat from the teens's speaker



*Stanjel is a village in the Municipality of Komen in the Littoral region of Slovenia, located on the Karst Plateau


Blank bulk to the touch

when you enter the city from the fence,

you see the carriages, can't see the square,

how the traces of a donkey are long.


If you walk in a circle,

you can trample down the shore around the water

and cross it to another water.

All names are busy, and one is free,

All names are started and empty.

You chose the one people more often say,

everyone liked it,

but no one wanted to call himself that.


All names are busy and one is free.


No one with your name hasn't yet driven in the city,

but every day the trains were met by those,

who chose the names by  themselves