Translated by Phillis Levin & Peter Richards

I'm the fruit whose skin breaks,

a container grabbed with a crane.

Gulls are bloodthirsty and hungry.

Their plucked feathers descend

as I climb. Booms, silky booms

in the frozen boat's throat, between

the sliding rusty doors of the tanker.

What do I do here if my seal breaks?

How should I grease my black and blue shoulders?

Hey, little stoker, I squeezed your head

under the ceiling for I started to breathe.

Your limbs smashed on brown metal

cannot be washed away. A mosquito is caught in oil.

They nail the box Illyria on a stick

and when the lid is pressed to the ceiling

where should it go if not inside? You resemble

an old fly's turd looking partly gray on a light bulb.

Shall we throw spears? I don't have a tool.

And the huge trunk with a pulley coming closer

owns nothing. I'm shifted around.

Machines are putting me on the other dock.

And from there a train through

dark tunnels and damp gorges

or in the sun, sun among wheat spikes,

an hour before the arch goes out and the lights

of cars and houses ignite. How should I

remember you, little stoker. I'm almost

unloaded. Only a lintel or two,

only a distance traveled on foot and then

that closeness with the heart shown by your

hand. A span. A span. You slap wood

as if a piano, you measure the tone.

Such sweet sounds Pythagoras takes.

—translated from the Slovenian by the author and Peter Richards

To read another poem by Tomaz Salamun, please click here to purchase JUBILAT 5