Woods and Chalices

Woods and Chalices

by Tomaz Salamun, Henry

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Inspired by Rimbaud and Ashbery, the Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun is now inspiring the younger generation of American poets—and Woods and Chalices will secure his place in the ranks of influential, experimental twenty-first-century writers. Šalamun’s strengths are on display here: innocence and obscenity, closely allied; a great historical reach; and questions, commands, and statements of identity that challenge all norms and yet seem uncannily familiar and right— “I’m molasses, don’t forget that.” Coat of Arms

The wet sun stands on dark bricks. Through the king’s mouth we see teeth. He sews lips. The owl moves its head. She’s tired, drowsy and black. She doesn’t glow in gold like she’d have to.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544343665
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 09/23/2014
Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 96
File size: 500 KB

About the Author

Tomaž Šalamun was born in 1941 in Zagreb. He has published over thirty books of poetry and frequently teaches at American universities, including Pittsburgh, Richmond, and Texas.

Read an Excerpt


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 Atlas’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 and’s, 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 outline 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 (Komarc?a!) 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.

The schmeketa 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.



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.


Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Table of Contents



The Lucid Slovenian Green 1

Mills 2

In the Tongues of Bells 3

The Clouds of Tiepolo 4

The Edge From Where We Measure 5

Ferryman 6

Tiepolo Again 7

In the Tent Among Grapes 8

Mother and Death 9

Along Grajena River 10

The Dead 11

Ancestor 12

Academy of American Poets 13

Enamel 14

Vases 15

Pessoa Scolding Whitman 16

The Pacific Again 19

Libero 20

In New York, After Diplomatic Training 21

Boiling Throats 23

The Catalans, the Moors 24

Sand and Spleen Were Left in Your Nose 25

Arm Out and Point the Way 26

Fallow Land and the Fates 27

Perfection 28

Avenues 29

Dislocated, Circulating 30

Car 31

Odessa 32

Offspring and the Baptism 33

Washington 35

The King Likes the Sun 36

You Are at Home Here 37

Bites and Happiness 38

Baruzza 39

The Linden Tree 40

Holy Science 42

We Lived in a Hut, Shivering With Cold 44

At low tide . . . 45

Blue Wave 46

Colombia 47

And on the Slopes of La Paz 48

Coat of Arms 50

Fiery Chariot 51

Shifting the Dedications 52

Washing in Gold 53

The Wood’s White Arm 54

The Kid from Harkov 55

Porta di Leone 56

Paleochora 57

Persia 58

In the Walk of Tiny Dews 59

Olive Trees 60

Mornings 61

It Blunts 62

Marasca 63

Scarlet Toga 64

Shepherd, You Are Just Learning 66

The Cube that Spins and Sizzles, Circumscribes the Circle 67

The Man I Respected 68

The Hidden Wheel of Catherine of Siena 69

White Cones 70

Horses and Millet 71

Henry of Toulouse, Is That You? 72

New York–Montreal Train, 24 January, 1974 73

The West 76

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