Flies clean themselves like a lightning.
Birds clean themselves like a lightning.
Feathery eyes don't know their nephew.
Jeremiah, Aaron, all of them lie on a plank.
In the dusk in the tavern.
Be the story. Close the tap.
The midget had warm eyes, he was
nailed on the kitchen wall. You were
more open as a human.
Bushels were put on wooden
cubes, jutting out of water.
You rejoice the splash.
The shawl, you rejoice it.
The father of knitting needles lags behind,
we are we. On the roof stands the dead
fawn. The drop licks his gum's fold,
the aster lags behind. J'ai pense, est-ce-que...
they're harvesting, really harvesting.
Go out. Goutte de goutte. Say goodbye to
the material of the sun. The acacia drones.
How many mouths of the axle? Greek Church
isn't heavy. They're not made of steep grass.
The fox doesn't burn through. When the flame
licks her little red fur coat, she hardly notices.
Crutches whine. Dogs pick them and
set them up with their white teeth. Through
a gauze I see through. Little spheres for balls.
The tin plate wetting the guest's eyes is worth
the co-mourning. I constantly think of you,
the paintbrush. The people from Mesoamerica are
low and dense. The invigorating fact is: climb, take off
the plate. Count the heap of angels. Vilenica, Prešnica,
the underground stream. The train and the flowers.
Where we dragged him. Vilenica, Prešnica,
the underground stream. Where he pouted his
mouth. You'd wrecked me on the rocks. You, the red,
hey, the mixture of moss and enamel. Set up
the tent again. From here I see plates with small
croissants, middle croissants, five kinds of quiches
and those green bonbons you piled on the stake.
Die canary. You composed already a thousand paintings.
Tomaž Šalamun is a Slovenian poet, born in 1941 in Zagreb, Croatia, and considered to be one of the great postwar Central European poets. Šalamun has taught at the Universities of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Massachusetts, Pittsburgh and Richmond, and was invited to be member of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 1971. He spent several years as Cultural Attaché to the Slovenian Consulate in New York. Already nine of his books of poetry have been published in English, the last ones are The Book for My Brother (Harcourt, 2006), Poker (Ugly Duckling Press, 2003, 2008, translated by Joshua Beckman), Row (ARCpublications, 2006, translated by Joshua Beckman), and Woods and Chalices (Harcourt, 2008, translated by Brian Henry). His books have appeared in nineteen languages. In 2007, Šalamun received the European Prize in Münster in Germany. His There's the Hand and There's the Arid Chair, translated by Thomas Kane is due by Counterpath Press in Spring 2009.
These poems were translated from the Slovenian by Michael Thomas Taren and the author.