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Published January 1998Become a subscriber
What’s your favourite colour? my favourite colour is yellow would you carry a wig if your hair fell out overnight if my hair fell out overnight I’d carry a wig we heard you went to portugal could you give us some brief impressions portugal is a small country the people dress well was it hot in the sun it was hot even in the shade it was hot did you have an uncle in the air force I had an uncle in the air force did he have an influence on your taking this job I couldn’t say he had an influence he soon died and then he had no influence
Let them serve you champagne in bed, the chilled one, as you awaken, still hot. Rasputin smelled too much. Foscolo and Leopardi, too—they built the steps for Nietzsche—swim in the Gai savoir. Will tundra suffer cyclically? Will ice roar when the little balls jet into the heart of the Romanovs, like steam? The knight combs his hair. He woke up lost in thought. The sun striking deep into the wells of the sky when you gaze at it—for someone it is the hour to be shot at dawn, for me the infinite gift of red, of violet and bluish-greying white above the bridge across the Loire. Yesterday I had to write something for George Lambert Ristin, he’s very curious. The lights in town are not extinguished yet, the duality flies above the sea gulls. They show their acne. They have long beaks, they’re trained for the mud beneath the marsh, just as some canaries can dot and stipple. They’re all flying. Little frogs, snails, shells, Krombergs and adoratus. A Malagasian reinstated the slivers of ships. Small blacks climb on the shipwrecks, they saved themselves from drudgery. The bourgeoisie of Nantes ate slavery. They tramped over the ruins with their wheelbarrows. Blessed little ribbons cut up by little girls, the scissors returned to the baskets lined with plush. Hangars are like skyscrapers. The crunching of Scotch tape is related to the sun. He creeps in silence. Strikes the window.
Gold coin in the cry of the sea gull rubbing against the hair in my ear. Behind the chimneys, prose, behind the bridge’s girders, dawn. Kaisarion, in pink silk, carrying hyacinths, was poetical. They all left from here. Mayakovsky, Nabakov, Desnos. Metka and her mother stared at the Normandie, the cabins, the common berths still arranged for war. They embarked. There is no memory. Only the one who sometimes looked like Toscanini, sometimes like Chaplin, had memories. That’s why Metka screamed at him late in his life, like a cold-blooded murderer, why I stood up and left, silently vowing to go into the night, even at seventy, if I have to bear for one day even a small percentage of that cold.
Artaud was throwing up, Artaud was killing himself, I’d like to dance in the disco again. Like when I saw the shiny copper floor. I followed a group of people. Plundered the new anchorage. I was waiting for Sonja, learning Spanish. Renting a bicycle was cheap. I walked anyway. Then Kali and Star arrived and Bojan and Živa. She drew carpets. Does God guide the fish? Who suffers from the memory of twisting? The dead impose on the living. The living, while they’re alive, don’t die out. We were eating. We were rocking the newborns to sleep. Near the low walls, which were carefully built. The walls to the east were less solid. People have darker eyes in Cyprus than in Crete. More like olive trees. They rise from the earth like burning snakes. The trees also burn. Bushes, the basilica, stones, all remain black. Then the rain fertilises everything. In the country people touch more. The mothers aren’t shy, they wrap their newborns’ penises angling upwards. Thus one can strike and thrust and, standing, not give way. Women depend upon pleasure. Me, I was staring at the bicycle. She didn’t watch Buñuel closely enough, she evaporated, she couldn’t control herself. Never again did I have a bicycle like a Dunlop. On the slope of Belvedere-Isola I extracted a stone like a tooth. The bicycle felt only a scratch. We missed the steamboat. Olive trees don’t smell like eucalyptuses. The trembling of eucalyptuses is too horrible. Horrible as dust. With their long leaves they strike. Olive trees are stronger, cows lie under them. When a cow arrives, the cab leaves. Even now Žare’s swimming again on his back. He prefers to lie peacefully on his back in the water, collecting Andro. He says he’s hard-working. (E molto bravo.) He doesn’t drink anymore, he also doesn’t drink. His son is in electronics in Trieste. It was Phaebo, when his little head fell on the oil cloth. They had an enormous flat above the drug store. His father-in-law took it over. He proclaimed it his property. My floor evaporates. I drop heavy balls. I don’t know how to juggle them properly.
Translated from the Slovene by the author and Christopher Merrill.
Tomaž Šalamun’s poetry appears in HEAT Series 1 and 2.Read more