Tomaž Šalamun



Tomaž Šalamun was born in 1941. He has published thirty books of poetry which have been translated into almost every European language. Until recently, he was the cultural attache to the Slovenian Consulate General in New York City. He lives in Ljubljana.





Have you ever seen God

running so he’ll make it by two-thirty

responsibility responsibility

approaching neither start nor finish

immovable attached

instead of just dangling its legs

responsibility responsibility

world without nature

world without discourse

trees, while still growing, are not responsible

and what is the word supposed to do with it

the sun doesn’t need it for setting

nor the sky which is sheer blueness and nothing more

in the beginning there was transparency

a world of things and true language

words were things

things were words

who did God consult

when he made a butterfly as it is

when he could have made its legs six inches thick

responsibility responsibility

baroque sustenance of the people


Translated by Michael Biggins

Poem from Poker (1966)






I have a horse. My horse has four legs.

I have a record player. On my record player  I sleep.

I have a brother. My brother is a sculptor.

I have a coat. I have a coat to keep me warm.

I have a plant. I have a plant to have green in my room.

I have Maruška because I love her.

I have matches. With matches I light cigarettes.

I have a body. With a body I do the most beautiful things that I do.

I have destruction. Destruction cause me many troubles.

I have night. Night comes to me through the window of my room.

I have fun racing cars. I race cars because car racing is fun.

I have money. With money I buy bread.

I have six really good poems. I hope I will write more of them.

I am twenty-seven years old. All these years have passed like lightning.

I am relatively courageous. With this courage I fight human stupidity.

I have a birthday March seventh. I hope March seventh will be a nice day.

I have a friend whose daughter’s name is Breditza. In the evening when they put her

to bed she says Šalamun and falls asleep.


Translated by poet and Anselm Hollo.

Poem from Pilgrimage for Maruška (1971)






Only God exists. Spirits are a phantom.

Blind shadows of machines concealing the Kiss.

My Death is my Death. It won’t be shared

with the dull peace of others laid beneath this sod.


Whoever kneels at my grave--take note--

the earth will shake. I’ll extract the sweet juices from

your genitals and neck. Give me your lips.

Take care that no thorns pierce your


eardrums as you writhe, like a worm,

the living before the dead. Let this oxygene

bomb wash you gently. Blow you up only


as far as your heart will support. Stand up

and remember: I love everyone who truly knows me.

Always. Get up now. You’ve pledged yourself and awakened.


Translated by Michael Biggins

Poem from Ballad for Metka Krašovec (1981)




Published by arrangement with the author

(Translations are taken from: Tomaž Šalamun. The Four Questions of Melancholy. NY, 1997)


© Tomaž Šalamun, 1997

© Translators, 1997