Mirsad Ramic grew up in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and came to Australia in 1981, aged 24. He has written in many different forms, including short stories, travel journals, diaries and poems in recent years. His work is politically charged and often accuses. It can be dark and tragic in tone, but is often infused with underlying humour; black and cynical one minute, light-hearted the next. Mirsad is a teacher and practising furniture designer and maker. He believes in solutions, ancient wisdom, and the power of nature.
This poem was originally written in Bosnian, Mirsad’s mother tongue, and is provided in its original form, as well as with an English translation (kindly provided by Mirsad), below.
This is a love song, dedicated to my muse. In her mastery of food preparation, cake-making, keeping our home a warm nest filled with love, respecting the diverse traditions of our ancestors and maintaining a safe shelter for our family and friends, she has no equal.
This poem paints her image through her culinary repertoire, multilingual terminology and our multiethnic and multireligious traditions. They have roots in our ancient Bogomil origins through Ottoman, Austrian, Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian and Australian heritage. The lyrics revolve around food, spiritual and religious rituals and celebrations, fashion, raising an angelic granddaughter and her art of home-making and her natural design sense. Her clarity and insight into human behaviour and psychology is impeccable. Her hospitality and compassion are legendary. It is like wine tasting: you may find yourself tasting and smelling exotic flavours, spices, aromas and languages flowing out of these lines. If you do, bon appétit, enjoy it!
It is a poem about embracing and respecting our family’s diversity and reaping the joys of inclusion and acceptance. It culminates in an open criticism of segregationist policies, wall-building, and the rhetoric of barrier-building, whether mental, racial, tribal, political or religious.
O ljubavi, smrti, anđelima i svecima
Prečicom do srca preko kruha i trbuha
Iz kuhinje zvone šerpe, tave, tacne, činije i tepsije
Escajg na stolu, svijeće i tanjiri, to gušt je Miri
My Heart sits in her pot and what a spot
Kifle, kiflice, vanilice, šnenokle, buhtle, pusle, bombice, ružice,
Uštipci, krofne, šamrolne, mekike sa slike,
Gurabije iz Arabije, đakonije iz Makedonije, ljutenica made in Sjenica
Krempite, šampite, sječene u šnite, džemovi i slatko da rakija klizi glatko,
Rolati, torte: bomba, Vasina, Katina i druge sorte,
Kapljica ruma, orah, badem i vanila, čista exotica k’o Manila
Pečenja razna, od purice mlinci, šta znaju klinci?
Provede dan pored peći, da osmisli ukus leći,
Mixing mirisne arome da ukloni hrani simptome
Transforming prašne materije u kreme,
Camouflaging ambleme, negira teoreme
U njenoj glavi anđeli plavi, dobri k’o mravi
Po kući tapka spodoba slatka, Baka, Baka, Baka
Kuća je puna njenog glasa, dedinog bassa,
Baki se srce talasa i grudna masa iznad pasa,
AngeI mali ponekad kaže, znaš da laže
Ne voli Baku, ne zna proces na tuti
Baka joj pusti, malo se ljuti,
Drugom to ne pali, njoj ništa ne fali
Haljinice, cipelice, vestice, igralice, poslastice, tufnice, loknice, pletenice, mašnice, papučice,
Nail-ish polish, ako voliš, pusti, pusti modu
Poklon za sviju, rođendan, slava, krštenja, sve od poštenja
Familija, tradicija, Franjo Jozef etikecija, red i običaji, čudni raji
Ljubav za sviju, briga za stare, nikad dosta pare
Samurai Hanumma, da siđeš s uma,
Nekad k’o lane, često k’o puma,
Odma’ s vrata pomiče figure i mjerama barata,
Puna nadahnuća, ne diraj dekor, nije tvoja kuća
Planovi novi, nijanse, tonovi, kreativni snovi, ideju lovi,
Žene joj kažu: Ne znaš ti Miro kako je meni…
Malo toga je njoj strano, sve joj je jasno, makar i oprano, ispolirano, kamuflirano
Šta napadaš Tiranije to ti fakat dobro nije, kudi mene
Ja bih rado sviju zagrlio, sa njima se izljubio, zadnju pljugu podjelio
Zid do neba koji grade ni malo mi nije mio, slatko bi’ ga porušio
Fašisti su strašna sorta, bez odgoja, bez obzira kojeg soja
Oni s Juga s mnogo duga, a pričaju sa Istoka došla stoka
Sa Zapada sami jadi, ne poznaju prave gladi
Stigla horda sa Sjevera mećava ih neka tjera, odatle su Bogumili, meni mili
Za njenim stolom, za istim kolom, na njenoj trpezi, dive se majonezi,
Slavskom kolaču, baklavi od Razije, slatkišima Marije Terezije.
Of love, angels, saints and tyrants
Pots, pans, bowls and trays, in the kitchen she still plays,
her mates, cutlery, candles and plates.
She spends the day by the stove, cooks lentils easy and slow,
mixes flavours, refines aroma, holds no cooking diploma,
camouflages labels, elevates folding tables,
transforms powder to creams,
“The end justifies the means.”
My heart sits in her pot and what a spot,
shortcut to the heart through the gut.
Kifle, kiflice, vanilice, šnenokle, buhtle, pusle, bombice, ružice,
uštipci, krofne, šamrolne, mekike sa slike,
gurabije iz Arabije, đakonije iz Makedonije, ljutenica made in Sjenica,
krempite, šampite, sječene u šnite, džemovi i slatko da rakija klizi glatko,
rolati, torte: bomba, Vasina, Katina i druge sorte,
drop of rum, walnut, almond and vanilla, exotica of Manila,
assortment of roasts, turkey with pasta by the Master.
Can’t you kids see? It isn’t KFC.
Blond angels live in her head, like they do in an ant’s bed,
sound of wee slippers through the house,
Baka, Baka, Baka’s little mouse.
Rooms filled with her sweet whispers,
high tide swells in Baka’s chest and warmth in her breast.
Little angel says and does not mean:
He does not like Baka, How does the potty work?
Baka does not mind, does not get cross.
Others aren’t let off with ease as she is.
She knows how and where to squeeze.
Haljinice, cipelice, vestice, igralice, poslastice,
tufnice, loknice, pletenice, mašnice, papučice, …
Nail-ish polish no offence, let the fashion do the dance.
Presents for all, birthdays, Saints’ Days, christenings, family, tradition,
Franz Joseph etiquette, customs and convention, just a few to mention,
respect for old, love for all, always short of dough.
She will blow your mind, my Samurai Hanumma,
she purrs like a pussy cat and hunts like a puma.
Right from the door she rearranges furniture and reworks proportions,
she is offended by disorder, no empathy for a hoarder.
Cannot touch it or redecorate it dear,
it is not your house and not your sphere.
New plans, shades and colour schemes, chasing and hunting creative dreams.
Women tell her: “Mira, you have no idea how hard it is for me…”
She turns green, acts mean…
To her, nothing is strange, all is clear, transparent under veneer,
squashed, whitewashed, demolished or repolished.
“Why attack the Tyrants, that won’t bring any luck”, likes to chug.
I am not a thug, I’d rather give them a hug,
kiss their cheek and let them smoke my last fag.
The Wall they are building I cannot stand.
I dream of its destruction and its end.
Fascists are a rotten kind; they suffocate all my senses and irritate my mind.
In the South they struggle, no one fancies Eastern Rubble.
Those in the West, puffing their chest, think they’re the best, above the rest,
forgotten the oppression, indulging in food, madness, drugs, boredom and depression.
Northern vandals, aimed for Rome, South Balkan a new home.
At her table, at her dance hall, at her party have a ball, they eat and take home:
Saints’ Days cakes, baklava by Raziya and assorted sweets from Marija Terezija.
© Mirsad Ramic, 2019-2020
 kifle: kipfel (German) croissant-shaped yeast bread roll, coated lightly with salt
kiflice: dry sweet version, icing sugar-coated or filled with cheese
vanilice: sandwich of two nutty vanilla and walnut cookies with jam in between, coated with vanilla sugar
šnenokle: fluffy white dumplings with silky vanilla custard
buhtle: buchteln (German), sweet rolls made of yeast dough, filled with jam and sugar coated
pusle: meringue made out of egg whites and sugar
bombice: a range of truffle-like balls made with a variety of ground nuts, flavours and dried fruit
ružice: also known as “Sarajevo baklava”, thin filo pastry rolled in a spiral, filled with nuts and soaked in sweet syrup
uštipci: Balkan version of doughnuts, homemade, deep fried
krofne: more exclusive version of doughnuts, often filled with jam and sugar-coated
šamrolne: baked roll of pastry filled with cream (Austrian origin)
mekike: commercial version of a doughnut often sold on the beaches of Montenegro (possibly of Albanian origin)
gurabije iz Arabije: sweet biscuit, like short bread biscuit (disputed origins: Greek or Arabic)
đakonije iz Makedonije: assortment of goodies from Macedonia
ljutenica made in Sjenica, a Serbian town: relish made out of tomatoes, capsicums, chillies, eggplant and onion (disputed origins: Serbian, Macedonian, Turkish)
krempite: sweet cream mix between thin layers of pastry, sugar coated
šampite: whipped cream on a thin pastry; both made popular by Albanian owned cake shops
džemovi i slatko da rakija klizi glatko: assortments of jams and sweet chutneys in order to improve the flavour of rakiya (popular plum brandy)
rolati: assortment of sweet, rolled pastries filled with sweet cream, jam, fruit (Austrian and Hungarian origins)
torte: Bomba, Vasina Katina i druge sorte: tarts: Bomb, Vaso’s, Kata’s and other sorts.