Four Poems

Tomaž Šalamun


hooves, rhinos' wafers
masks of yellow wheat, dervishes' stalls
meadow seeds, Fates of Lloyd Triestino
the lion moves silently under the steps

bread is red, Šalamun is red
in the steppe, in sheets of paper
dreadful Khlebnikov's light Khlebnikov
when I touch you, when I follow your traces

when the candle burns down, when Venus falls in the axes of meditation
when the son offers himself, workers, antique greyhounds
snails, white snow's slats
spring decides the color, the children darkness

J'ai vu un énorme institut de sociologie
Niania m'a dit cochon

The porcelain breaks.
Every sufferer has appetite.
The child with white holes in his head
on the way to the kingdom.
Ants, logs on their shoulders.
Lumberers change their boots.
I knew it will burst.

I sang big oaks,
foreheads sunk.
Sails rolled in the ashes.
Cooks, like Christ, with their white caps,
unscrew themselves
from the green branches
of the white birch tree.

The tent burns.
The linoleum in the membrane protects the disks.
The ice keeps back the incision and
on the macadam dust the paper caps fall first,
on the paper caps the singing, on the singing the shots.

Important Confessions

Firemen and policemen, all with their neat caps.
They fight. There's quite a smoke.

Cubes? We forgot them. Long
ago. They flew across

the air. I was in Rome. We didn't throw
cubes there. We followed events

in the gallery. Nani Ballestrini was
the biggest smart-ass. Cubes lie

peacefully in the ground where they
belong. Nina wrote me from

Paris: I fell in love, I'll marry soon. Then
(two years later) she told me:

The vengeance is sweet. I didn't understand.
We lived in hotel Beauvoir. Then I lived

in Pensione Cisterna, where all this
happened. I wrote Why am I fascist

when I came back to Ljubljana, when their
servant at the door of their house,

in front of the City Hall returned me all my
things in one of my travel bags.


how immortality smells, the pillars of the house
the mountain in the harbour, woolen blankets in dreams
with leather ribbons, a glued together lumber room
with white canals, compressed paper

naphtha, the springs of blunt brothers
the golden technique of sequins, flowers
the ox kneels, shoulders are dissected
the vapor of hats, fires, the leaf fat of resellers

gaucho, hollow spiders
in the polymorphous white, cold sleek blood
the gift, one meter of the tip
high caballa, formalization's facit

sand in the atelier, the day of monsters
the tree-bark in the gallery, gray seal
the ground, dismembered batteries
black ships, black steamers

translated from the Slovenian by Michael Thomas Taren and Tomaž Šalamun