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The Frozen Monarchy

after Tomaaž Šalamun,
A Ballad for Metka Krašovec

Deep below the bowels of a boat, cutting

through breakers no trouble, carting survivors

to god knows where, aware on a sunny day

of its sinking, so many years ago some have already

forgotten, you can see them: the cities

and piers, fun parks and parliaments, how they’re

in line to be punished. They last in a spasm, locked

in shocking ice. It glimmers a shade of blue, the same

hue for everyone, for the looters of nests and altars

as for dandies with a finger on the trigger, deep down,

where slackened wishes to be forgiven have tacked

like metal to ice, with a grimace of pain. The oldest

would know the song, it sounds like a face

from the fairy tales, pronounces the prophets different

from despots, although they all feel the cold, save

those who wanted to save themselves by climbing

the slippery crests of a slope to shear the surface

and swim. There, an old captain my country admires

dances on deck in his bare feet, and buttons from

blouses and whitish teeth are sprinkled all around,

Trieste—Vienna, September 2001

from Without AnesthesiaFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2011
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Ales Debeljak Poems

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