Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tomaž Šalamun's "Photograph with a Quote from Yazoo"

Tomaž Šalamun

Photograph with a Quote from Yazoo: Deep in Each Other’s Dream

Christ is my sex object, therefore I am 
not an ethical problem. I lead him to the meadows.
Like a little shepherd, I force him to graze.

I root him out and clean his hands. Shall we
rinse ourselves under the tree? And when
we stretch out on the earth and watch the sky,

what moves? Will we have enough heat
for winter? Will we peel potatoes? Will
we make soldiers out of molten lead? Are we

going to the cows with our arms in their muzzles?
Will we bite the horsetail? Watch Mount Nanos.
We’ll hide in the moss, under sheets of glass.

When you took the picture of the tree, did you
take care of the explosion? What do you mean exactly?
The white milk traveling through the veins

into eternity, glazing the dark? I am a little stone
falling into your flesh. I made you twitch
and tied you up. We crucified you.

Translated from the Slovenian by Christopher Merrill and the author

[from Verse, Volume 13, Numbers 2&3]

Tomaž Šalamun's other "Jonah"

Tomaž Šalamun


Pleasure writes history. Bombs resemble
human eggs. You tear them off and throw them
around. They rut. Shepherds wake in the hills.
You see, a grenade falls on your head, it’s landing there.
The ones who were served grew bored. Still I never
saw a whale. Supposedly it swims in the sea. Supposedly
you can stick a mast through its eyes. Yesterday
they killed my darling Jeffrey Dahmer
while he was cleaning a toilet. He had eaten
seventeen young men and ended in blood. Power
is always inherited, never divided. And if a body is raveled
we mend it. Power cannot evaporate. It renews itself
on solemn scaffolds. We, the people who wade in blood,
we’re erotic and fascinating. We write sublime poetry.

Translated by Christopher Merrill and the author

[from Verse, Volume 15.3/16.1]

Tomaž Šalamun poem

Tomaž Šalamun


With juice in my muscles.
I’m not bad, I’m used to it and calm.
I’m dissolving my eyes.
I hear the sail fluttering.
The sun kisses the white linen
thirty times and settles
like a glowing club.
Who cares about refoli!
From the left and the right—the sea!
A quadruped first uses all
four of his legs, he runs over the earth.
The bush scratches, how it tamps down, now this, now
that, but what steps into silk,
a rift in the glue, still on the earth?
Is it still in triumph and juice when it takes off?

No one scratches you softly in heaven. You
can’t roll up your cloven foot,
no granite cube for your
head. Mouldering limbs have meaning.
The air is grayish bronze,
someone is burning linen tablecloths,
the calves are drunk and dazed.

You catch your lungs,
they roll over and uncover
a fresh cherry pie, someone
unwinds it before it was poured
into the piepan. Plants grow
into it and out,
the skin fits like the moon.

Do you remember my blue bathing suit
and the record for the hundred-meter freestyle?
How you stretched above the splits.
And your rested pulse,
a little like a twitching fish,
a little like a fish fanning itself.

Translated by Christopher Merrill and the author

[from Verse, Volume 15, Number 3/Volume 16, Number 1]

RIP, Tomaž Šalamun (1941-2014)

In honor of Tomaž and his artistic legacy, Verse will be posting some of his poems that have appeared in the magazine over the past 20 years.