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Three Poems
The Linden Tree

You didn’t satisfy to us, man from Australia, 
in the magnetic field you acted like a she-kale.
Cuba squeezes out the blue snake. We hugged you.

A flash of lightning reports on heaven and spills Fatima. 
Remember the asphalt for the million believers. 
Remember that on those small gardens, among

ocean ’shrooms and the nation similar 
to Slovenians, similarly suppressed, only that
they had three more rags in history (half the world),

murmuring between Tomar and Fatima, 
between the ordained fourth miracle and the piece
of cheese, happens. Did you see how the crowd’s voice 

strengthened? Did you feel what the feminine principle is 
(Mary) and how in Tomar (painted incessantly by Marko 
JakÅ¡e, although he was never there) the hall 

stirs, stirs centuries, and lifts freemasons
like some sort of dwarf. Dwarves 
today just wrap ribs to pigeons. 

And the pigeon (with the brush), another pigeon 
(like Wurst, in salted and cloudy paper, 
feasting), Bob Perelman is the pigeon. 

He comes (twenty five years after 
he drew his blood-tax in Arena), a quarter
of a century I guarded him like my own blind

beaver who will blast into the dark 
corridors of America with the one 
small tram-like shift. To us instead of us.


Arm Out and Point the Way 

Vigorous, disfigured mice,
tassels or bonbons. Latte (the name
of the bitch with white fur), did the wheels

overeat like the heads of memory at the ends
of wood-limbs at Deacon? They were quite
devoured. Stretched out, softened,

given and given. Slime
washes windows. Peter as a rule
dances. Shoe shining is coming back, 

the white matrix of the Announcing Angel. 
People walking along roads
is coming back, the fluttering

of overcoats and the stopping of coaches.
The rushing to work and the paying
of tolls. We’re a bunch of flowers. Napoleons

of the Bible. Worms between butter
and jam at the vaults of Inter Conti. 
Ceelia Min signs.

The foam curses and counts.
A bottle is missing.
Surely it’s hidden under the coverlet.


Pessoa Scolding Whitman

The whore of all solar systems and diligent
little ant, let’s begin with this restriction. Until here
cows, but here the guests can already wipe

their backs, except we dry this laundry 
outdoors and the muffs also hang, although
it’s summer at Jama in Bohinj. Špela is already 

a great-grandmother now, she has a certain grandson
who plays hockey at Tufts, already forgotten as well,
like those who played chess here:

Cvit, Raša, Avč, the awesome Montanists,
you can be mister God in your country
(Raša), but here in Oxford we wear coats

differently, also stutter a little, out of pathos,
so this then pours into our Carinthian blood,
and after my sister, who got married 

to Detela, bore a genius (deceased), and one 
good and important writer, 
now the living and the dead pull each other’s hair 

and with Barbara we’re civil servants, telephones
constantly bang against us, and she was a little
in love, and I too, and we sang

žure, put together for us by our mothers,
Madam Silva in her instance, and out 
of this are born poets and civil servants,

who every free minute break for the Strand,
give search for Mikuž, another boy scout,
another nephew, another son, translating

that dreadful Latvian, I can find him
nowhere, and then Lojze arrives, the type
who would not believe I wished him well, 

and yet today, first he gets lost in Harlem,
then still he comes up to Phillis, 
who was wildly searching for him, and together

they watch Microcosmos, Phillis 
howls with enthusiasm and they talk 
fourteen hours without stopping, while

I, with Metka, rush to the same film:
how the snails fuck doesn’t move us, hardly
staying upright against catatonic fits

of sleep because I must save my energy
so I will wake up in the morning because then
I furiously type and sniff everything: Barbara, 

if Govic rises, I will stare once more 
at the muscles of the inflated Avčin 
rowing, how should I be interested in

the little sex lives of insects
and robbers, and whether I truly 
forgot a gift for her birthday.

Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry and the author from Gozd in kelih (The Forest and the Chalice).

Tomaž Šalamun (1941–2014) published more than fifty books of poetry in Slovenian during his lifetime. He is not only recognized as a leading figure of the Slovenian poetic avant-garde but is also considered one of the leading contemporary poets of Central Europe. His honors include the Preseren Fund Prize, the Jenko Prize, Laurel Wreath, Poetry and People Prize, Njegoš Prize, Europäsche Prize, Pushcart Prize, a visiting Fulbright to Columbia University, and a fellowship to the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. 
Brian Henry is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Static & Snow (Black Ocean). His translation of Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things appeared from BOA Editions in 2010 and won the Best Translated Book Award. He also has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices (Harcourt) and Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers (BOA).