Decomposition by the Ljubljanica
The tower with its clock & flag
clicks & flaps above the riverlet
as you wait & ply your brain
with caffeine & wait with the hole
in your arm & its attendant bruise,
the rash aching, eating your skin
& swelling it so your arm limps along
with the rest of you, the flag with its clock
& tower shifts & points somewhere new,
pushing the shell (that’s you) from your mind
& replacing it with the hornet assaulting
coffee dregs, the copter passing over,
the women passing, the postman, the river
whose name embraces its span, the river
whose water you can’t see drink or drown in.

Irritable Battery Syndrome
A little awkwardness off the ear, vacuum
distributor, suck-ass monstrosity. No complaints.
The doorbell hotwired, it sounds off all night.
The front porch a void, we boil visitors
(word spreads fast in this hemorrhage of a town).
Cotton balls & suppositories, put the gut to bed.
Bowel sounds drown out the groan, sneak
into every pore, every hole in the house,
to eliminate. Asbestos for breakfast,
some other hazard for lunch. The pain puckers
the sphincter but nothing will emerge
except a little awkwardness in the rear, maybe a blog.
These barrettes need a soak before they can hold
back anything heavier than a single hair.

by Tomaž Šalamun

But you know, suffering also decays
and remains dust.
The frontier is my living body.
When a peasant burns his partridges.
It grabs. It grabs.
The earth should cleanse itself.
It is burning up dry grass.
It removes wood and sells it.
Children bring it milk on handcarts
so the co-op pays him for gas.
It exults in rain, when it’s needed.
And sunshine, when it suits the grain, not him.
It’s free.

From Otrok in Jelen (The Child and the Deer), 57. Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry.

What Is Beer Froth, What Is the Sweet Mussel,
How to Chase a Grouse, and What is Asparagus

by Tomaž Šalamun

The silk of the difference between the skin and the eyelash
of snakes gives the advantage to Boeing. How you eat, how
you drink, makes the world’s destiny. Also, how you demolish.
Above all, how deeply you demolish. And what
you didn’t allow to be demolished. The bombs hurtling
toward you were steered like little ping pong balls.
You accepted them fully and fed them in their nest.
You patted them and exploded them. Such a one
weighing 500 kilos was found now in Saint-Brévin.
Photographed big shots, posing as if they caught
a super salmon, patted its belly and dismantled it.
The media ask: what about food? What about the temperature
in the mouth? Is the sun beating too hard through
the window? The best tea can be drunk only by those
who are resting. They don’t need to dismantle lungs
and shoulders, to fuse iron and copper, to tear teeth
to stamps and actually make such a Bering’s passage
that it wouldn’t hinder anyone. That nobody would lose
the redness of his nose and would for nothing
give up the recipe for coquille Saint-Jacques.

From Morje, 51. Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry and the author.