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tomaz ˇs ˇalamun
a ballad for metka kras ˇ ovec
translated from the Slovenian by Michael Biggins
twisted spoon press
• prague • 2001
Publication of this book has been made possible in part by a grant from the Trubar Foundation, located at the Association of Slovenian Writers, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Copyright © 1981, 2001 by TomaÏ ·alamun English translation copyright © 2001 by Michael Biggins “When I Crawl ...” from Feast by TomaÏ ·alamun, copyright © 2000 by Harcourt, Inc., reprinted by permission of Harcourt, Inc.
All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be used or reproduced in any form, except in the context of reviews, without written permission from the publisher. isbn 80-86264-12-2
” “A tiny bug . . . .contents book 1 “Night drenches the land .” “A line-drawing deer .” epitaph “A stream. with your whetted .” “Whips! Yolks! . .” “The chalk in this picture . . .” “Ladders are made . . . . . . . . .” “O tribes! .” “Of all the drenched guests . .” “A sword delineates . .” “I drink flour out . . . . . . not the mind. . . . when they . . . . . .” “Sullen is the pose . . . . . . . pine! . .” “It was exactly noon .” 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 . .” “Shortcuts wash the .” “A seed flying off . .” “I don’t like black cherries . .” “I remember a thorn . .” “A fly on the hairs .” “The stone.” “Monsters in the gums . . . . .” “The children’s mouths .” “Sorry. .” “I throb in tiny . .” “Father. . . . .” “On Sundays. .” “I eat rhubarb and . . . . .” “Off with the crackpot’s head . .” “They’ve blocked our . . .
” snow man we peasants the dance san juán de la cruz and john dilg insects. .” god’s straw andraÏ and tomaÏ ‰alamun ragtime 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 57 58 59 60 61 62 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 76 77 . . .” “With my tongue . .” “Feathers are the feathers .” “I set a . . . . my arm a ballad for metka kra‰ovec “A book of . . . . .” “Supreme grace opens onto . .” to david mitla “To the nun . .” “If it weren’t for Descartes . .” “Blue pencils on a white .” “Counting is most terrible . . . .” “Within the mountain . . .” manhattan one. . . . . . . . .“The wings of a bee .” west broadway gabrãe 109 = 10 = 1 “Blue circles in the . . .” “A city of light .” “When I crawl . . birds “Endure .
. . . . .book 2 big deal telegram rites over charred remains bathtub army juice of oranges sayings of the world memory “I’m suffused . . . .” “Don’t fool yourselves .” doubting grandson prologue i prologue ii a prayer god sixth of june poetry metka the man from galilee de rerum naturae “My grandma .” letters to my wife so what did i do in new york? i’ll write you a sonnet “In hell they eat . .” “The people who .” riko adamiã marko astonished eyes 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 92 94 95 98 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 .” by jove. . here we go again problems and mysticism the oeuvre and its brackets “Not just me . . .
blue folder la lettre de mon père. le pédiatre grain the word and the truth 118 119 120 121 122 123 130 132 136 137 138 139 140 142 143 145 147 148 149 151 153 154 155 . alejandro gallegos duval! to pavãek gaza my uncle the jockey and the butcher in zone a the koper-saratoga springs axis my bard and brother chez les contents small wonder that our old professor is now mayor or rome dear metka! liberty.light not fed by light the boat jerusalem kami the tree a stroll in the zoo circles three poems for miriam bob! thirty-seven and you twenty-one why do you tremble.
” I say — and precisely that allows me to stand on it as safely as on concrete. . I don’t even know what I mean by “it. Grein vaun . My problem is that I don’t know what I am doing. Emil Filipãiã. you see. . Expensive People “Nothingness is the source of everything. I lived all this mess. But. This is life. this is not ﬁction. but I don’t know what it is.book 1 This memoir is a hatchet to slash through my own heavy ﬂesh and through the ﬂesh of anyone else who happens to get in the way .” Joyce Carol Oates.
I didn’t bring dice to the table not to see the cake’s bottom. The dog will drag off what’s there. Draw a totem in the nests. Moss is tucked away in dark drawers. Death is in an ant’s ﬁst. Escape up the power pillar! The emperor’s servants’ door won’t yield to dust.Night drenches the land of the smile. 13 · .
Found a green airplane. knows of a tree shooting out of a pumpkin. Each knows the wisdom of both sides. Throw steaks on the block. Billions of stalwarts. His horse eats. Neither the screen on the window nor the guard at the door cares to hear about one gray kopeck. if he ponders.Off with the crackpot’s head. Too few for a single bird ﬂight. Who. 14 · .
I don’t know what the spirit of silver smells like. Sight is the punishment. 15 · .Father. with your whetted teeth. why don’t ﬂowers grow from your ﬂesh? Questions are the chronic deaths of unmilked animals.
Wire the horses. Yes. 16 · . Let the ointment drip on the rounded shapes of the planes. The eye washes a wound in the belly. This is where I’m at home. They know what to do with the oats. The fortress bursts. said Alice.O tribes! Graze your ﬂy on your mouths. Gold needs soap bubbles more than the sky. but that leaves the question of whether time has a pocket.
All people don’t have a sense of moderation. I’ll be in the picture as punishment. Draw fairy tales. Solitude is a shot in the void. 17 · . The breath of springtime lingers and stands still. There are ﬁngers in cups on the altar.Shortcuts wash the street. See the rope on the branch? Perpendicular from the pine. The peaks of the rooftops. A photo of the copy will sink any goalie. Whoever picks up the pot will boil.
Monsters in the gums are crushed into birds’ shoes. 18 · . Only in snow does it melt into a cult. The name is in the whiteness and the jagged w’s. Others rework the factories into rabbits. In the saddle the windows are egg-shaped. Their shin bones stick out. There’s gold in the seed. The king whispers to the shore.
I don’t like black cherries on the tree. I’d like all my hair to burn. Who rubbed soot on the she bear? A fetus. like a castle. to be bare. outside a small yellow briefcase. smashed jaw bone. Ivy entwined me. I’d like to be rain. scrubbing the roof. I died when I took my shoes off. Inside me there’s still chalk. part of the wind pipe missing. 19 · . It dangles from my hand like a saint hanged from a tree — the same cherry tree.
For David Del Tredici Whips! Yolks! The captain threw a lasso and knocked me to the steamship’s bottom. 20 · . The book shelves shook as he started his car. A door with a brass handle slammed behind him. My tunic too long. God knows where the pianist is. You sting me. I can’t endure with my sleeves rolled up. I’m left alone in these peelings of spring.
Sullen is the pose of the black child. He’s eating his scabs. You can see the pilot’s leather eyes. The leather straps under the pilot’s chin are thinner than the rope that drops into the well. It must be early April. A glider shoots out of a hangar. 21 · . The child shivers on the stone. bending over the well.
A tiny bug is on the screen of a sifter. 22 · . Next ﬂoor up lives a girl with yellow eyes. on it a drop of beer.
I put it under a waterfall. I placed my stamp in the desert.It was exactly noon when the sun shone straight down on my head. looked for the shade. Then I took a monogrammed handkerchief. I counted my rings. It was a minute past noon. 23 · . The balance remained the same.
A wild boar shakes the trunk of an oak. 24 · .A line-drawing deer swims in the water. Numbers are etched in binocular lenses. Tea spills across the grass. Easter recurs eternally.
Bunches of hellebores adorn the sleds. 25 · . people ﬂow like a stream. Water always runs downhill.On Sundays. when they wrap the bells up in cellophane and carpenters hammer nails into the wooden wall. They rub cortisone on themselves. On Mondays soldiers get dry rations.
but from emptiness. but from emptiness. children aren’t born from mothers. Likewise. 26 · .A sword delineates seven things. I’m more silent than a snake. Deer. lettuce doesn’t grow out of the ground.
boughs branches catch the engine’s steam. I see my neighbor’s tiny yellow ﬁst. It shines onto a carved bench. Turn on the lights.A seed ﬂying off the adhesive tape. Only oil can slip through the sun. where did I draw a train on the map? Boughs branches. I imagine the world standing on its tip toes. Here in the tunnel someone forgot an orange. 27 · .
Why does the ﬂame licking my hand emanate from the eyes of a man long since dead? The Danube ﬂoods. 28 · . I never considered that knots are where branches grow out of the pines.I drink ﬂour out of Meissen saucers. All memory is extinguished.
We’ll give them marmelade. The rest should be shoved in an igloo. 29 · . set it on round poles and slowly. like last year. I’m speaking in the future tense. with horses. When we lift all of it up.Of all the drenched guests only the oldest doesn’t bother me. move the nests toward the south.
30 · . you’ll see I’m not mistaken. Count the leaves of your life. Only sheep will slip. You’ve struck me to the quick with that light.I throb in tiny copper wall tiles.
It won’t be shared with the dull peace of others squashed beneath this sod. Get up now. Whoever kneels at my grave — take note — the earth will shake. You’ve pledged yourself and awakened. My Death is my Death. I’ll root up the sweet juices from your genitals and neck.epitaph Only God exists. Take care that no thorns pierce your eardrums as you writhe. Let this oxygen bomb wash you gently. Always. Give me your mouth. Spirits are a phantom. Explode you only so far as your heart will support. I love everyone who truly knows me. Blind shadows of machines concealing the Kiss. like a worm. 31 · . the living before the dead. Stand up and remember.
A stone sinks. 32 · . All my girlfriends have turned gray. Dandelion ﬂuff ﬂoats. My tooth starts aching. White plates come between the ﬁsh and blue tablecloth.A stream. I stare at the circles. the scent of freshness.
German prisoners eat out of tin plates. Deer come in the early morning. 33 · . Mrs. Abramiã is winding wool. Tsilka is forbidden to clean the guns.I eat rhubarb and see grandfather’s house with its oleanders and cracked steps.
Birds across the ocean. the same spoons are here. too.The stone. When I see cakes wrapped up in part transparent. not the mind. 34 · . I wait for the right gesture to straighten my heart. draws circles in the pond. my mouth waters. part frosted paper.
I remember a thorn in my heel. When I climbed up on my father’s shoulders. I didn’t know he would die. The pictures of naked women keep moving to higher shelves as I grow up. Blue towels terrify me. 35 · . When father works. the clocks stand still. Sheaves of wheat lay in a ﬁeld.
mommy. That taxi driver must have suffered a lot in life. It’s composition when the lines blur nicely and arrive at the same spot on the apple’s crust. 36 · . Even really strange people travel by train. huh. The world is so big and wide that we’re like little ﬂies.The chalk in this picture will have to be ﬁxed.
Bombs kill grasshoppers. tiny balls for other continents. 37 · . if they fall on a meadow. We’ll smooth out foil chocolate wrappers and roll them up again in tight. In freedom everyone’s eyes will shine.They’ve blocked our radio. too.
38 · . I look at my white heels.The children’s mouths are smeared with chocolate. A mill like the one shepherds make out at pasture. In the clap of a hand: countless cow births. There’s a blotter and a bronze horse on the desk.
Sorry. pine! You fall when I write. I’d like to die with a red cap on my head. Those lines that the lion scented are in the pupil of my eye. 39 · .
40 · .A ﬂy on the hairs between splayed legs has no sense of the agony of birth. I’ve hurt my ﬁst. The number 20. In a great wall a crevice for a white candle. The arc of a swaying net retains the same power of primordial memory as the ash of this box.
precisely ﬁtted bandage covers my sun in its golden spot. 41 · . A dark. I touch the skin: it doesn’t ﬂash.Ladders are made of the same rusty points as mud. Deceptions are the deceptions of technology: of an unformed face.
42 · .The wings of a bee torn off: he pitched wooden hoops onto a bottleneck. A duck devours mould to keep the species from dying out.
Among the bamboo I puzzled where all the pine needles came from. clinging trousers. although he still has the same dog. They were strange and I was so high up. Walls were spattered with red oxide. I don’t have a country. on people. I knew I would sail. They threw books onto trucks. They were leaving because we had come. I watched steam ships from the terrace. This bar and these people walking past — Castelli. Carts with oxen. Whomever I clutch onto. there was a revolution. other beautiful women around him. I descend on the city. I drink. Then came the hungry years. I was in places where people wore black. In the Bronx. They woke me up in a town where the white sun shone on the Duomo. a Jew dressed like he was back then. a peasant with a whip drives through the village on a peaceful afternoon. Then we moved to the sea. the same kind of wild orchid in his lapel. who’s aged since I saw him last — that’s when the ﬁre was in Venice. The view onto the roofs of streetcars from the dentist’s in the Ljubljana skyscraper is gone. 43 · .west broadway I like being in the air. Burrow into the ground. the mayor showed us where a giant power plant would stand. The pharmacists whispered. Everywhere they bid bulldozers to tear down my buildings.
to sea.gabrc ˇe A ﬁne thing. they’ll moulder like abandoned mills. chiseled like a wooden toy — a paper napkin — if it didn’t hop and sing. Stanko. I’ll stay at home on the farm. I’ll be a woodsman. These fellows will grow up into mountains. Will memory ever scatter them over the earth in the sky? Lojze. Gone where? I’ll be a waiter. These dark pine branches guard what’s behind them. The right thing. the innkeeper’s cross-eyed boy. color. A bird. A strong desire seizes me to climb up and set a silver candlestick beside its nest. Is the line between snow and dry land sharply deﬁned? Is the RiÏana the best place for pitching banknotes into lard? Will you come back next year? Are you eating enough meat? 44 · . I’ll go in search of other sunsets. A gesture beside the mould of death.
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