Vanda Petanjek – Velasquez

Petanjek profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume One, December 2020.

Vanda Petanjek was born in 1978 in Čakovec, Croatia. She graduated from the Department for English and Croatian language and literature at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. She writes in Croatian and English. Her poems have been published in various literary magazines and internet sites and some have been aired on the radio. She lives and works in Zagreb.
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I was already here
the air reminds my body of its density
I was here once glowing in iron dust
watching my hair under blazing electricity
helpless to free itself from the grip of scalp belts
tightly clutched thighs in a frame
I remember well
I threw my dress on an anvil here
its bottom part resembled a trimmed crinoline
ribbed in design like the fabric of my body
squared under fingertips
clenched at the waistline like fists
a yellow ballgown perfection for a tiny infanta
I stripped myself naked and lay down on the dress and the anvil
and battered each square
with a hammer
a sledgehammer
irons are for cowards


bila sam već ovdje
zrak mi podsjeća tijelo na gustoću
ovdje sam već sjajila u željeznoj prašini
i promatrala kosu pod užarenim elektricitetom
nemoćnu da se otme remenima tjemena
čvrsto stegnuta stegna za okvire
sjećam se dobro
ovdje sam na nakovanj bacila haljinu
donji dio nalikovao je podrezanoj krinolini
rebrastoj u tkanju kao moja konstrukcija
lagano kvadratičnoj pod prstima
stisnutoj u struku kao pesnice
balsko savršenstvo za malu infantu
skinula sam je i gola legla na nju i na nakovanj
i svaki kvadrat
izudarala čekićem
glačala su za kukavice


we started off well
I watered it
made sure it didn’t shiver
turned it towards the sun
talked into soil
I swear I looked after it
last night the leaves fell off the top
I turned to you and said
this one will go just like orchids
your laughter was so yellow
you said
you watered too much
you worry too much
to keep it for yourself
you ought to keep it from yourself
take a bath
that’s what you said
I put my foot in the wash basin
pouring water over me as if it will help
not to dry out
and give you fruits
you’ve reconciled with that
I only shrank
watering myself with yellow muskat
smelling of citrus
of mild sugary surfactants that remove impurities
of sesame oil that hinders skin from drying out
I felt like breaking from gentle and effective care
and breaking him in half also crossed my mind
for looking down at smaller me
bigger only if I’m able to carry
that’s how I felt
and maybe it is my fault
perhaps a fruit is a burden
a hand grenade for the body
a hand grenade for the lemon tree


počeli smo dobro
zalijevala sam
brinula da ne drhti
okretala suncu
pričala u zemlju
zbilja sam se brinula
sinoć je otpalo lišće s vrha
okrećem ti se i kažem
ovaj će otići kao i orhideje
kako si se žuto nasmijao
previše si zalijevala
previše brineš
da bi ga sačuvala za sebe
moraš ga sačuvati od sebe
okupaj se
tako si rekao
ulazim nogom u lavor
polijevam se vodom
kao da će mi to pomoći
da se ne osušim
da ti dam plod
ti si se s tim odavno pomirio
ja sam se samo smanjila
zalijevam se buteljom žutog muškata
i mirišem na citrus
na blage tenzide šećera koji odstranjuju nečistoće
na ulje sezama protiv isušivanja kože
došlo mi je da prepuknem od nježne i učinkovite njege
i tebe da prepuknem na pola
što me gledaš manju
što mogu biti veća samo ako nosim
tako mi je bilo
i možda jest do mene
možda je plod teret
ručna bomba za jedno tijelo
ručna bomba i za limun

Next to Godliness

I saw you brush your teeth the other night
strolling through the bathroom void of yourself and the world
with nothing on your mind
nothing on your face
nothing on your tongue
but a toothbrush
and there you are in that moment
a child licking a lollipop
prepared to embark on a journey of carelessness
ready to hop on the spinning wheel of imagination called ferris
orbiting around a luna park of your mind
a lunar spot on your forehead
you smile as you go along
biting a doughnut
mixed with popcorn and salt and caramel between the teeth
as now with toothpaste
and though older and much less enthusiastic about the ride
a child with naked elbows and knees
holding a toothbrush in your left hand
I saw you stride among the towels the other night
it was already too dark for you to illuminate the room completely
but I caught a glimpse of your passion for the ordinary
while placing your face into the mirror
spitting the white saliva on the faucet
and cleaning it with your sleeve
thinking no one was watching
and I thought how extraordinary this is
being hugged with the everyday motion
and how peaceful you looked in your ordinary emotion
for a simple act of being clean
nothing beyond that
nothing beyond that

© Vanda Petanjek