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Tomaž Šalamun

Three poems

translated by Brian Henry

The Loire Delta
poem (“If I don’t know what to do…”)

The Loire Delta

I have more zest than a boat pushing
the sea aside, because it pushes it evenly.
I enjoy spasmodically. As if the sun would
be put out and be born again. For this is worth
getting addicted. To be able to be dragged out,
to be whipped as a kind of Christ. But engineers
who made the paw to the bridge, the girders,
don’t remain in history. They lack spasmodicality.
If my car would be thrown from the bridge
over Loire, or at least would be finely shaken,
I’d remember it. The hand’s move is always
the first one. And the opening of your little
mouth: yours, yours, yours, is always
the first thing, no matter the age.


If I don’t know what to do
I push off myself and rush to the trampoline.
There I jump and swing and make sure
to cause trouble. Will anybody
notice I have a new bathing suit?
I bought new swimming trunks!
Women, not banin!



You lived too many lives. I didn’t hear
from you, you didn’t come. I remember your visit
some ten years later, during your broken

years. I threw a bathrobe on my son
when he stepped into the room. He was already
a yachtsman and a sculler. You were

so in love with Vera we thought you’d fall
off the boat. They almost took away
our money at customs when you forgot

to report it. In Piraeus you lost everything.
Your pajamas, your sleeping bag. Vera now
barely remembers Dikan. You looked at him

as if he were a Greek god. I never told you
anything. We danced at the hotel terrace,
I wanted to leave. I knew I’d hardly see

you after graduation. In the photos
I don’t seem older than your classmates.
I’m the twice removed cousin of your mom.

Grandpas used to stop at our place on the way
to the beach at Barkovlje. I had possessed your brother
and both sisters. None was like you.

Poems from the collection Morje(Sea), (Nova Revija, 1999) translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry and the author

Tomaž Šalamun (left) and Brian Henry outside Veselka’s restaurant, New York City.

Tomaž Šalamun (left) and Brian Henry
outside Veselka’s restaurant, New York City.

Tomaž Šalamun has published more than 35 books of poetry in Slovenia and 10 books in English. His many honors include the Preseren Fund Prize, a visiting Fulbright to Columbia University, and a fellowship to the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He also has served as Cultural Attaché to the Slovenian Consulate in New York. His poetry has been translated into more than 20 languages around the world. Woods and Chalices, translated by Brian Henry, appeared from Harcourt in April 2008.

Brian Henry is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Stripping Point (Counterpath). His translation of the Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices (Harcourt) appeared in 2008, and his translation of Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things is forthcoming from BOA Editions. His sixth book, Wings Without Birds, will appear from Salt Publishing in 2009. You can read three poems [»»] by Brian Henry in this issue of Jacket: Oklahoma / George W. Bush / Actually Sounding

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