Hat by Dejan Aleksic

It’s not easy to wait for
The head of right size

To hang from birth
In a window of an old shop
Whose former owner
Reposes under the earth
Eschatologically bald

It’s even harder to be
A church bell made of felt
On the battle field of thoughts
Cold as the fingers of a cashier
Counting small change

If someone does stop
Before the dirty window
It’ll be only to eavesdrop
On the boy with the accordion
And to drop a coin

Into a hat turned upside down
To yawn at the sky



This poem was translated from the Serbian by Charles Simic and is the winner of the 2018 RHINO Translation Prize.

DEJAN ALEKSIC, born in 1972, is a Serbian poet, playwright, and author of children’s literature. He has published nine poetry books and 15 books for children, which have won him many significant literary awards. His poems and books for children have been translated into several European languages. He lives and works in Kraljevo.

CHARLES SIMIC’s work has won numerous awards, among them the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and, simultaneously, the Wallace Stevens Award and appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate. He taught English and creative writing for over thirty years at the University of New Hampshire. Although he emigrated to the U.S. from Yugoslavia as a teenager, Simic writes in English, drawing upon his own experiences of war-torn Belgrade to compose poems about the physical and spiritual poverty of modern life.