Mastiffs, Owned by the King: Tomaž Šalamun, Three Poems

By popular, inner-demand, Tomaž Šalamun. He received a Golden Wreath from Struga Poetry Evenings in Macedonia in 2009.

Translator: Michael Thomas Taren is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop. His book Puberty is a finalist for The Fence Poetry Series.

The Twentieth of January

The twentieth of January, almond trees.
Here I stopped.
Here I stand.
The root gives a scent, groves
deeper and lacerates.
Here I void myself.

The twentieth of January.
I was taken on the voyage.
It hurts.

The sun is rough-hewn.
The silk tears my threads.
I'm grown with myself
because I'm wounded.


Why is it only the boat that moves on,
why doesn't sand move on too?

Fish, which are cardboard,
mastiffs, owned by the king.

I told you a long fairytale,
fell asleep before it ended.

Bčka is a little kitty that falls into milk.

Živžav walks along the street and takes a bar of soap with him.
He comes to a fence and forgets the bar of soap at the fence.

Translated from the Slovenian by Ana Jelnikar and Michael Thomas Taren


Rakes swam.
There was a spring water.
I didn’t change the baby’s nappy for ages.
I succumbed.

Cabs were yellow.
They rushed.
They ran shadow.
I’m the ridge.

The watered ridge.
I flow off into the cave.
Into the cave at the top.
They have redone this temple.

They licked its floor.
Strollers waver.
They react.
I stole Sabrina.

Looked at the roof.
Sulfur watered the gutter by itself.
The inward dwarves drive the row.
There’re many of them.

Translated from the Slovenian by Michael Thomas Taren and the author

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