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Five Bulgarian Poems by Blagovesta Pugyova

Oct 7, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Bulgarian by Eireene Nealand
The Waterbearer 

The waterbearer walked by unnoticed
because no one saw beyond their own water.

In the new era, people lived in aquariums
Protected from one another, and from war
they sold happiness for options on happiness
glad the markets were so successful.

When a person was ready to die, they put
their happiness up on the exchange.
Thus, the frozen paper of the central bank
held its value, and all stayed well within.

The waterbearer walked by unnoticed
because no one saw beyond their own water.

Between aquariums, only the waterbearer
moved, mumbling, “Love for everyone.”
The waterbearer lugged posters that said
this also, “Love everyone.”  “Scallywag,”
everyone said. They closed the lids of their
aquariums, not to be bothered by his smell.

And the waterbearer walked by unnoticed
because no one saw beyond their own water.


“But darling, you can trim your wings
weaker is stronger.” You get them
to stumble and when they unfurl
thwack— from a safe height— thwack.

“Doesn’t that look smart? You, clever bird,”
“Here you go. Take the right, here’s the left.
Clip away I’ll hold still.

And don’t worry with black
feathers like mine, no one will notice
the missing wings. Besides, who cares
about the flight of a swallow?
I’d only be building nests
on the windows of strangers.”

In the Mountains

Up here in the mountains
the weather drags on
only the inevitable news
gets this far:
my ex had a son, an old pal down the road
drank himself dead.
Never fear, if I live my whole life here,
where only such news comes, I won’t
miss anything important.

We, Fishermen 

In the morning by the river
my childish soul
adds blueberries
to your breakfast;
embarrassed hyenas
sneak up & carry them off.

That’s how it always is: sticks
dam up the river;
the overflow attracts
more hyenas than children.

What’s Bad 

I rise at five in pursuit
of the murderess in my bathtub
and find her naked, bubbles up to her chest,
last night those red nails ripped through me…

Wait no, the murderess is me.
Some other woman has died.
I rise and dress, shaking, “ …need to
help the children…”
“Wait… the murderess?”
“No,” I realize it, again, “the children…”

“Your evil wants to come out, darling,”
says the fortuneteller I pay
to interpret my dreams.

“No, Madame, you’ve read it all wrong
My evil isn’t expressed when I dream.
It’s when I sleep through the night,
sleep through the night
when I know about the children
and do nothing to stop
those who kill them like that.”

These five poems are part of Blagovesta Pugyova’s book titled Tomorrow at 10 on the Moon.

Also, read a German poem by Martin Heidegger , translated into English by Eric v.d. Luft, and published in The Antonym

Loneliness— A German Poem by Martin Heidegger

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Blagovesta Pugyova is an activist as well as a poet. She lives in Bulgaria, a beautiful mountainous country near Greece, and runs the Give a Book Foundation, a network of volunteers who donate books to orphans and become their mentor-friends. She has also founded an IT company Childish which donates 50% of its profits to organizations that benefit children. Tomorrow at 10 on the Moon has been widely applauded not just as poetry but as a manifesto for Blagovesta who has been honored for her activism, receiving honors such as Human of the Year, and the Contributor to Freedom Award in Bulgaria.


Eireene Nealand translates from French, Russian, and Bulgarian. Her co-translation (with Alta Ifland) of Marguerite Duras’ Le Camion was published as The Darkroom by Contra Mundum Press in April 2021, and additional translations have appeared in Drunken Boat, the St. Petersburg Review, and Poetry International among other places. She owns a village house in Bulgaria and was recently awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant to work with the NextPage Foundation at the Sofia House of Literature and Translation.


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