transl. Brian Henry

Breath pushes into the heap and thickens
the blood. Humanity’s billions

sleep. Horses! It’s a little bird!
We quarrel, where is the water.

What is water, who has dry
hair. Destroyers!

Roving. The pharaoh had
bullfinch eyes, red

murky colors. A wolf savors with
its teeth. The wind was

caught in the branches. This is
prose! yelled

the boy. All were astonished.
I hatched an egg.

Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry.

Brian Henry is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Permanent State (Threadsuns, 2020), and the prose book Things Are Completely Simple: Poetry and Translation (Parlor, 2022). He has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices (Harcourt, 2008), Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers (BOA Editions, 2015), and six books by Aleš Šteger, most recently Burning Tongues: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2022). His work has received numerous honors, including two NEA fellowships, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, a Howard Foundation fellowship, and the Best Translated Book Award.


Tomaž Šalamun

Dah sili v kopico in gosti
kri. Milijarde človeštva.

spijo. Konji! Je ptiček! Se
kregamo, kje je voda.

Kaj je voda, kdo ima izsušene
lase. Ugonobilniki!

Tavam vas. Faraon je imel
kalinaste oči, rdeče

motne barve. Volk mlaska z
zobmi. Veter se je

ujel v vejevje. To je
proza! je zaklical

fantek. Vsi so ostrmeli.
Valil sem jajce.

Tomaž Šalamun (1941-2014) published more than 50 books of poetry in Slovenia. Translated into over 25 languages, his poetry received numerous awards, including the Jenko Prize, the Prešeren Prize, the European Prize for Poetry, and the Mladost Prize. In the 1990s, he served for several years as the Cultural Attaché for the Slovenian Embassy in New York, and later held visiting professorships at various universities in the U.S. A comprehensive volume of selected poems (edited and translated by Brian Henry) is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2024.


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