About Changes Review

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From OPERA BUFFA by Tomaž Šalamun

translated from the Slovenian by Matthew Moore


With night come the bees that do not
retreat. Knead your shoulder,

and the bread, held by your shoulder.
The jumper you lubricate can

never forget. Ben-Hur! You are so
willing to gobble hairpins, so

gobble hairpins! To eat grass with
Griboyedov could not mean

forgiveness. The frog is a failure. You
wash with piss but know it right away.

I wish I had the wind. I’d like to have spirits.
I would like wind and spirits.

The rowers gnaw a silver belt.
I see at least two of them here.


Here’s your summons! The owl
stamps it. Stable hands

post at stalls, jockeys at docket.
They hope, a hush tone,

Mr. Groznik might stop along.
And, could you recall

Mr. Groznik? He got busted
in the Bahamas. I ran

the underwear in here
he sent for his brother.

We splashed in great white milk.
From one continent, to the other.

In the tower, Karlica was hot.
In that time, Karlica was drunk.

Tomaž Šalamun (1941–2014) published more than 50 books of poetry in Slovenian. He was born in Zagreb, Croatia. His first collection of poetry, Poker, was published in 1966. He was renowned among his generation as a leader of the Slovenian avant-garde, and recognized as one of the great poets of Central Europe in the 20th century. His most recent books, published in English posthumously by Black Ocean, are Andes (2016) and Druids (2019).

Matthew Moore is a poet, translator, and editor. His poems appear in journals and magazines including Annulet: A Journal of Poetics, The Carolina Quarterly, Fence, Guesthouse, Lana Turner, and Second Stutter. From 2012 to 2020, he co-edited the online poetry journal Flag + Void. He is the translator of Tomaž Šalamun’s Opera Buffa, forthcoming from Black Ocean in September 2021.

Thumbnail: Ed Paschke