Ramiz Huremagić

Ramiz Huremagić, born 1972 in Cazin, completed his undergraduate studies in Zagreb and Sarajevo, and obtained his Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Cardiff in the UK. Over a period of more than nine years, Ramiz worked on organised crime investigations. Together with writer Izet Perviz, he co-authored a script for the feature-length film Tobacco Smoke, that received a prize in 2004 from the Foundation for Cinematography of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The film was also included in the official selection of the CineLink programme for script development at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

His poetry has been published in the Croatian magazines Poezija and Novi izraz, as well as various other portals, magazines and journals. His second book of poetry Čekičanje vremena (The Hammering of Time) was published in 2016. In 2017 it was shortlisted among the best poetry collections at the Ratković Evenings of Poetry in Montenegro.




The Hammering of Time

The Victress of Belgrade

To Belgrade,

lest she drown.


A poet’s sweetheart lives in You,

petite and frail,

yet greater than You.

You’ll look down your nose at me

and tell me there’s probably no city

without at least one

poet’s sweetheart.

There are sweethearts in every city,

sweethearts of poets living and dead,

great and small,

sweethearts of men, sweethearts of cities.

You know, Belgrade,

This poet is not one

to quarrel,

his is the softest of skins.

Only, he was flayed,

alive, by Your sons,

beardless boys who took to

kicking old ladies’ corpses

when kicking a football and

burning out motorbike tyres

became a bore.

My Belgrade,

I do not wish to lay claims.

You have also birthed her,

the bearer of bliss.

Of course, You don’t remember

every tiny tot –

that was long ago, how could you.

Back then you lived

at a different address,

long gone now, razed by hate, bulldozers and tanks.

You are very big and old

and you forget.

Deep in Your underbelly

rats have long been breeding,

and we all know

that they live under ground.

Still You don’t relent,

You don’t fall back.

Still you persistently drown

Your finest babes,

like the bitch Ursula drowned her litter.

Is it because

greed has clouded

your holy vision,

or did you sell out for

a goodly appanage

and your own table at “Šansa”

with a view of yourself.

Belgrade, You hero of song and tale.

The scars on the fragile back

of the poet-warrior-boy

– even those inside –

were removed by

a single breath of hers.

Only later did she kiss him,

gently, on the neck vein and the eyes,

and slightly above the kidneys.

Was it Your breath, too, old timer,

the one You’re now ashamed of,

the one You renounce?

A breath drawn from the

wire-stitched innards,

a breath on which girls

danced out of spite

in marked sheds

full of traces

of the architect who was born dying,

of piano keys

and the most beautiful monuments

of the underground world?

Do You even remember

that You once were

a city besieged yet unconquered?

Or was it some other city,

the one that wouldn’t

step on an ant?

Belgrade, you dotard.

A poet now comes to you.

With serenity

under his soft skin,

and the widest of smiles.

With open arms

but not with empty hands,

he comes to embrace you,


Maybe she won’t

understand him at first,

he is a man insane,

still a boy,

who loves her with his

softest skin.

The one which doesn’t

remember the blade,

the one which froze

inside, all the way to the kidneys,

during that time when you weren’t waging war

at my front doorstep.

He loves her, Belgrade,

hoarfrost and expanded bullets

did not cloud his judgement.

Where he was born

the river runs clear,

his mother taught him

that one should never lock

one’s home and heart.

He only knows

the colour of death.

Belgrade by the rivers

that perish in the

briny sea

made up of their own waters.

For love, he will

lay down his life if need be.

So many times it’s been taken from him,

only to return again.

The poet only knows how to give,

belonging is a trait of locked up minds.

Who were the cries

“We are free!” for,

when the keys

to Your innards

were awarded to the

gentleman on a white horse?

He knows what it’s like to have

something taken away from you,

and he knows that You’ve been taken away

and that something’s been taken away from You.

All these lives taken

for nothing,

even the life of the great

insane rat,

what were they taken

from if not freedom

which can only exist

in man?

Fear takes away

much more than death does.

Don’t be surprised –

within You, without You,

with You, without You,

above You, below You,

You will not take her away from him,

You cannot take away from her love

and her sighs,

don’t even think about it.

It’s a war You lost

decisively long ago,

perhaps because

You didn’t start it in the first place.

Hopefully You’ve come

to your senses,

and realised You

should’ve stopped that long ago.

You lost publicly,

the poet put You in verse,

turned You into dotted

fields of white

reminiscent of Your Alley of the Greats –

although, its greatness

is marred here and there.

The poet then stripped

completely naked,

in the middle of Your

big heart – is it still big, however?

On his soft skin

a scar can still be seen,

on the small of his back,

to the left, where the third

kiss had landed.

He read to you loudly

clenching his fist

all the way to the hem of the sky

above Mt Avala,

with his mouth shut,

mouth reconciled with his

truths and silences.

Meštrović and his falcon

were silent

as they waited for their Victor

from the shed to make him known.

Praise those on high

and the universe of verse

for connecting people.

Where She, alone and frail,

astride a falcon,

Rearranges the stars in the sky,

that Good may

feel good.

Before Your eyes,

above Your parks,

I still cannot thank You.

Your daughter has vanquished you,

old timer,

with the love of mother’s flesh and blood,

with the  modesty of father’s pride,

with the purity of underwater touch.

In her, old chap,

You fall asleep every night,

as if in a most fragrant bed,

not the other way round.

I know, and the poet knows too,

hers is the sweetest scent,

the scent of freedom.

That is her, Your Victress.

The one who defeated You unprecedentedly,

a heroine as fearless

as a butterfly

that has only one face.

And you know what, Belgrade,

She’s not the only one,

not by any manner of means, mate.

You have plenty of tots like that

more, perhaps,

than You care for,

just as the poet

is not the only poet.

Though this one has

the softest of skins,

and he is taking it to her

to rest her

pale white hands on,

hands weary of dealing with You.

The poet reached out

his hands to you,

here they are, here we are.

After all, poets have always come to You.

Some to love and celebrate,

some only to

rest in one of your cemeteries.

Love makes for peaceful cemeteries

where souls curry favour

with one another

with their born-again breath,

and the bedding is white and fragrant.

O white city,

You have birthed all the colours,

but been named after only one.

Stop being

a dark shadow,

an absence of light,

a Bogeyman with which to scare

mischievous children.

Return to it

embrace it anew,

white is rather beautiful –

it is the colour of wedding gowns

the colour of daisies,

the colour of handkerchiefs in jacket pockets,

the colour of her breath.

The poet will neither

regret not begrudge

covering Your streets

with his softest of skins.

or growing pleasure grounds

of singing daisies along the pavements

from his kidneys the bulbs

which he planted with his own hands.

That, after all, is why he is coming,

but this time he won’t be

summoning back his life.

All this if and only if,

You, Belgrade, promise

that her feet will someday,

walk in peace and freedom,

over his skin,

when she takes her granddaughters

for a walk in the Tašmajdan park.

Long may you live, Belgrade, my brother!

I pray for you

in the one

whom the poet loves,

although my name

is Freedom!

They’ve always lied to us,

that Victors were men!

What a Victress you have!





Translated by Mirza Purić