Image by Hollis Duncan

Poetry The North

Tomaž Šalamun

The North, which faces north, is stern and blunt
like a flash. Seemingly harsh, silent and swift,
aggressive and white, seemingly full of magnesium,
a waterfall in a vacuum, I say. It weaves and weaves, I give.

In the middle of the process my thoughts wander to cigarettes,
which I forgot break the membrane and hurt
concentration. They push off their backs on their own, push
off my shoulders on their own, jump and crash on their own

like an unfinished body, which at first arouses
more interest than a proper one because of the noise,
because of the white froth crashing, and the North,
which faces north, is already here, stern and blunt. It sticks

to the white froth, which it recognizes because Up! can be
imprinted in it. Peace is every discourse, like the chunk of steel
that trains speed along. Which is the North, which
faces north, stern and blunt like a flash.

Tomaž Šalamun (1941-2014) published more than 50 books of poetry in Slovenia. Kiss the Eyes of Peace: Selected Poems 1964-2014 is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2024.
Brian Henry (translator) is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Permanent State, and the prose book Things Are Completely Simple: Poetry and Translation.