Read Woods and Chalices Online

Authors: Tomaz Salamun

Woods and Chalices

BOOK: Woods and Chalices

Table of Contents

Title Page

Table of Contents



The Lucid Slovenian Green


In the Tongues of Bells

The Clouds of Tiepolo

The Edge From Where We Measure


Tiepolo Again

In the Tent Among Grapes

Mother and Death

Along Grajena River

The Dead


Academy of American Poets



Pessoa Scolding Whitman

The Pacific Again


In New York, After Diplomatic Training

Boiling Throats

The Catalans, The Moors

Sand and Spleen Were Left in Your Nose

Arm Out and Point the Way

Fallow Land and the Fates



Dislocated, Circulating



Offspring and the Baptism


The King Likes the Sun

You are At Home Here

Bites and Happiness


The Linden Tree

Holy Science

We Lived in a Hut, Shivering with Cold

At Low Tide . . .

Blue Wave


And On The Slopes of La Paz

Coat of Arms

Fiery Chariot

Shifting The Dedications

Washing in Gold

The Wood's White Arm

The Kid From Harkov

Porta Di Leone



In The Walk of Tiny Dews

Olive Trees


It Blunts


Scarlet Toga

Shepherd, You are Just Learning

The Cube That Spins and Sizzles,
Circumscribes The Circle

The Man I Respected

The Hidden Wheel of Catherine of Siena

White Cones

Horses and Millet

Henry of Toulouse, Is That You?

New York–Montreal Train,
24 January, 1974

The West

Publication Acknowledgments

About the Author

About the Translator

Compilation copyright © 2000 by Tomaž Šalamun

English translation copyright © 2008, 2007 by Brian Henry and Tomaž Šalamun


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.


For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.


This is a translation of
Gozd in kelihi


First published in Slovenia by Cankarjeva zalozba, 2000


Publication acknowledgments appear at the end of the ebook and constitute a continuation of the copyright page.


The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:

Šalamun, Tomaž.
Woods and chalices /Tomaž Šalamun; translated from the Slovenian
by Brian Henry and the author.—1st U.S. ed.
p. cm.

1. Šalamun, Tomaž—Translations into English.
I. Henry, Brian, 1972- II. Title.
PG1919.29.A5.W66 2007
891.8'415—dc22 2007037468
ISBN 978-0-15-101425-5


eISBN 978-0-544-34366-5





To Metka

The Lucid Slovenian Green

To step into the splash. To adorn oneself. I strode

the Karst valleys and bloomed. The underworld

is plastic and juicy. Whales dunk a little,

shoot a little. Chile is dewy, spring

is paper-wrapped. Girded like an ant,

like a cadet with argil. How do you reckon this? Bruised

like an icon? Blasted with small and large candles?

Slices are also in the trunk, there, where

squirrels and hornets fertilize tiny eggs. Caesar

walks staccato. Rome crawls by your feet. Wherever

the grape plucks, it starts to purl. The Irish saved Europe.

They piled sagas at fire sites. Everything northern

(Styria). There, in the forests, live char men

with flashing eyes. They snack on the
Book of Kells.


I grew up with eggplants. I stepped

from the truck, honey, chestnuts

rolled in honey. The higher, grayer part

creaked. It tottered. For a raven

that you snatch by the legs and spin like a bundle,

as long as it doesn't crash into a windowpane,

you don't know if it hits with its back or its eyes

closed, glued from fear. The windowpane

is not its beak. The raven has no beak.

The raven has only a sail with drawn-on

seed. Stars, ricocheting into the moon's

glass, go out. Between the time someone's

in the sky and the time he burns

in the sky is the beat of an eyelid. Water spins the logs.

In the Tongues of Bells

I decant a blossom. It goes before you.

You're filled with Uriah. Green, tiny, and pressed.

Blueness is a furious cake, a round

cake where yearning sleeps. Are the balls

the balls of the earth? At wells

and fountains? At Adas's pillar?

You say that you'd be my property.

You'd lose everything instantly.

I still wouldn't notice you anymore, injured.

I choose from the thickness. Honey collects

cries. And when the body thickens and you get up

because I dress you, because I congeal you.

I erase you back in the past. I draw

a white flap, shine a white flap.

The Clouds of Tiepolo

The flock fell behind a hill. God

tottered. I chased a stall. Faded

and flew. When there's no syrup in the eyes, there's

no black man in the body. Virgo is in the loaf and creels.

She throws snowballs while standing. Plans unravel.

Clouds are rosy, as by Tiepolo.

As by Deacon and Aritreia. Tasso

kills a cricket. The knot spreads and advances

into the jacket with many
as with the Danes,

who also translated the Bible like this. And so we have

and, and, and—no more—which the French

don't have. They have crouching planks there,

they call them elegance. The bridge goes in the eyes.

The soul in the railway. I puff, for I'm a pillar.

The Edge From Where We Measure

Shiva gleams on a white pansy

and a penguin kicks the sphere. The radar

switches off. After speed? Nothing.

We only slept some twelve hours.

We were eating pizzas from Santa Fe

to Boston. Our minds sprinkled. The wheat

cleaved. I wanted to lick you on the neck.

What? Where? You rob the steering wheel

and the air. You stop. You smoke

and build a hut for little birds. Triangles,

you split open their feet, their toes

with the drawn-in bulbs for fingernails

which may be a football ground, a sea

or your screen. You inherited six of them.


I know you toil and loiter. The mourner

bids adieu. Her leaves' whiteness

recalls stalks. The graffiti of the poor

is under the earth. The adieu has staccato poses.

Drowns and flees. It resounds in the hut

when you wipe off the saddle. So we have

a wet ship and a dry rider. A worm

from a trunk and an oudine from grain. The position

between the land and the river is wiped. The position

is wide. The river is cold. As long as he travels

parallel he doesn't need a draftsman.

But then, now will it whistle? Will there be

a bell, will it be perforated? Will the earth

split, as then within vineyards?

Tiepolo Again

The pill percolates. Methadone is technology.

Eyes in the Sava. There will be no more white tuck-ins.

Christ was exposed. Roe deer

kept their paws apart. Quilts

fluttered, and the wheat-like ones. We shelled

tweezers. Is there always skin under

the skin? Is the situation in the niches

and cockroaches and in the deep

Piranesi caves taken care of? Will lights be

by the legs? Will the dust burn? I gather myself

by Mormons. I embroider from lace, I have

a butterfly, Tasso, who drinks

from a bottle. Clouds rush like crumpled

wash, faster than watered guests.

In the Tent Among Grapes

Don't sneak me onto mountains, chicken. Don't verify

your neighbor. You creep on my vaults. Where

paws and stars flash. Where Nietzsche

bites his knees (
) on the path above

Nice. What an azure milky whiteness!

Did you knead a little flour into torpedoes?

Did you sponsor a robbery of bees? Ears

adjust to the sky. Tendrils—if wholly

in white garlic—do you then tear them

like berries? We hear the engine, not the horse.

His eyes are poured out onto my hands.

Stumps and columns and stalks that you dunk

into the Mediterranean. Steve and Ken (asleep)

water flowers. The chimney branches out.

Mother and Death

There is no grinding. Consumption is embittered.

The shove twists a white feather. The law

is in Kent's throat. White green violets.

pump is knocked down.

You revolt in the color of spilled wine.

You bring cakes and name them,

sell them here. White quails

have top-notch wings. The bone is among

the found. The found is expected

by witch doctors. Confirm to her what she saw.

Confirm to her that she was chatting.

That there are no remains. That the way is easy

always. That there is not even a drop

of reproach in front of the white mute.

Along Grajena River

I helped

the peach

to braid itself.


Why did you already shut

your mouth on the mountain?

The sled



turns round its axles.

It runs with


dogs and moose.

Boka is an ink stain.

Cut into the icy slope


and scattered powder.

The stone gives heat.

Ormoź begs a hen.


I am Ban's daughter.

I played piano

in Poker,


the garden

did not keep.

Surely I must have died.

The Dead

Ou peut-être pas.

Perhaps their trumpets curve.

They forgot doorknobs in the floods

and now they dive for them.

Maybe they press the buttons

to rescind the aberrations.

Maybe they use crepe paper.

Maybe they're not so talentless

and crackle underwater like shells

and stones, such that every thousand years

of crackling harvests us

a tiny white stone.


Is it cold?

Are you snowed in?

The tent, does it still creak?


In a field near the Hrpelje-Kozina station

in the year 1911,

a cadet shot himself

in the mouth with a pistol.

Academy of American Poets

Muldoon says Heaney is like the Vasa

ship. Built on three floors,

it was the world's biggest battleship.

It made half a mile

and capsized alone in a harbor.

The warriors are killed by insects

and lack of glycerine.

Scurvy corrodes their skulls.

Spruce trees shake off their seed and snow.

Between Zlatorog and the Savica waterfall

there is no hoarfrost.


The tongue doesn't bind itself. It's a cleanser and a clean freak,

the marble-smooth skin of refined ladies,

a cork, a self-satisfied little clod.

When Alexander burns Persepolis, it can

meditate. It takes apart fighting lions

as if it's a silky little onion (diminutives strengthen,

they flood), their kindness is worse

than K's, who wishes us all well.

Am I a cold fish that kills Christ

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