Three Poems
Translated by Brian Henry


Two votive plaques 
crept on 

the stairs. Frost fell 
on one. I sat in 

a chair and waved. Flanagan 
had cramps. The two 

votive plaques 
pretended as if it was 

nothing. We destroyed Kresija.
Opened the cisterns’

mouths. She’s coming, she’s coming, 
she wants to sit down.

This is her chair. By 
every right.

from And Everywhere There Was Snow

He Fell Headfirst Down the Stairs

A shoe. There’s a goldfish in it. 
There’s a goldfish in the shoe. What’s it doing 

there, fanning itself? Taking ruins from 
the portfolio? So that I wouldn’t be seen.

So that I wouldn’t be noticed at all. My sister 
tells me I’m like 

Karlutek. All scrawny, I’ll almost 
start washing my hands five times 

a day. Jealous! Karlutek is a pillar!
Books are written about him.

He was a courageous fighter against fascism.
Eventually robbers beat him up.

It seemed amusing and funny to him 
because he was immersed in God.

from And Everywhere There Was Snow


Now I’m drawing Topalčikov, who’s walking on 
the road, not on the road, though also on 
the road, it’s for a link, no, a pier, no, for 
a bond, a bond, I’d say, 
a bond between two islands. 

The lines are here.
The lines are here and the lines are here and the lines are here.
The circles are here.
The circles are here and the circles are here and the circles are here.
There are valleys and rocks and sand and sea.
Sparrows are here.
The sparrows are in my eyes.

It’s warm here and the valleys are here and black soil is here.
The ships are driving their propellers back.
The lines on the sun are here.
The circles in the water are here.

from Cold Fairy Tales

Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry

Tomaž Šalamun (1941-2014) published more than 50 books of poetry in his native Slovenian. 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 he later held visiting professorships at various universities in the U.S.

Brian Henry is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Permanent State. He has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices, Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers, and five books by Aleš Šteger. His work has received numerous honors, including two NEA fellowships, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, a Howard Foundation fellowship, a Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences grant, and the Best Translated Book Award. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.