Tomaž Šalamun

(with translations from the Slovenian by Thomas Kane, Michael Thomas Taren, and Tomaž Šalamun)

Three Poems

Mute and Time

C major in the cup, C major in the cup, the train
started to pant under the sleeve, to soak itself
like a snake and rush toward the elbow.
A flamingo removed the scythe, what to do with
a scythe, the whetted scythe that could harm his eye.
The little end-pieces cut into the clouds. Clouds
packed with clinkers always pull through. If they’re
black, if they’re white, if they’re dark, if they’re
the autodidacts. Now we push snow. I don’t even
see the tendrils. We don’t know how the vine will bear.
Violent with the soft melancholy of the plain,
revered, again I feel besunken. Let’s do it:
The king has no clothes on. The emperor is naked.
His eyes are twisted. I, twisted them for him.

Translated from the Slovenian by Thomas Kane and the author

Rižana’s Delta

All these are blue, feathery tunics. Little Annes,
parasomnambulants. When mushrooms die, mischievous
comets, buckets in wells, a thunderous bass voice only

starts to announce God’s loan. Italians failed and
hastily at that. Horses want répeté. Are you
the reed’s bimba? Will the flat line of white bowels

form silt? I’m used to lying on river sand. On
river sand, on river stones. I’m used to lying
in mud. On sea rocks, on round stones. But this

is frothy sea bottom, luka marittima. Lucca on
heroin. Remove little towels. Form little knees
for the elephant’s young ones with veins. When did they

bring pencil sharpeners among razor blades in
Zagorje? To alpine Mittelbach. I lie under
a mosquito. Incessantly, close to the white

wall of my kaič. We’re back, close to reeds in
the Rižana. In a little hole made by a snail, not
breathing. What else: crickets, fishlets, the ham

of a backwards tribe’s dance, gnats, red buttons
and elephants, now strengthened by the vision of
Maximilian the First’s who spoke Slovenian:

“Čebri so dreki. Parazoli so luštni. Hanibala sonce
Beauty, anoint my palm. Be involved with the
lion-hearted. Collect the history for patches. Row!

Translated from the Slovenian by Thomas Kane and the author

Not a balance,
nor bread,
nor a pine forest I know,
that would glitter so strongly in the moonlight.

In the black chest
the housewife lay in flour.
Young Mary has mustaches above
her upper lips.

How fanatically she kisses the hare!
He’ll die of overdose
and nod with his ears down.
Mother hare will wash him,
She’ll try giving him aspirin through his white little teeth.

I stepped on a frigate.
I had a bundle on my shoulders.
I greeted the captain,
I said to him, good day, guy.

Translated from the Slovenian by Michael Thomas Taren and the author

return to SHAMPOO 37