The Blue Tower

The Blue Tower

by Tomaz Salamun, Michael Biggins

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The work of this “eminent, still-wild spirit of Central Europe” (Publishers Weekly) continues to electrify. In The Blue Tower, language is remade with tenderness and abandon: “Rommel was kissing heaven’s dainty hands and yet / from his airplane above the Sahara my uncle / Rafko Perhauc still blew him to bits.” There is an effervescence and a sense of freedom to Tomaž Salamun’s poetry that has made him an inspiration to successive generations of American poets, “a poetic bridge between old European roots and the American adventure” (Associated Press). Trivial and monumental, beautiful and grotesque, healing, ferocious, mad: The Blue Tower is an essential volume.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547727516
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 10/04/2011
Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 96
File size: 719 KB

About the Author

TOMAŽ ŠALAMUN was born in 1941 in Zagreb. He has published more than thirty books of poetry and frequently teaches at American universities.
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 provoke the pasture’s ladder, to wash out the cat’s message,
What you hear through the walls is panic coming here.
In Morocco he whipped slaves. First I open the chest.
The ribs turn gray. I hold tight to the shovels, birds rip them from
my hands. I saw nomads, women on horseback. The dog days will come dressed in a
T-shirt. I’ll show your hand, my hand is your hand.
Who drinks foliage through the silver of trees? A carriage couldn’t
race by here, the brambles would wreck it. A believer
climbs the fence, look at that big little trumpet flaring its
nostrils. Debar clings to terraces, the house is full
of snails. Snow is beautiful. The moon calms his lips.
You flash him signals for cricket, eat chickens at midnight.
Isn’t the wood for bramblebees rowing the river?
They think nothing of closing the eyebrows of someone like you.


To chop up cotton and read through a cookbook.
To be running behind and hang from your lower jaw.
I’m free to drink bottoms up. Ganymede

gets stuck in a summerhouse. And oh how flowers grew by the
pathways. Do you see how I lopped off their heads?
Do you see how I step on his scalp as an officer?

They poured streams of hot water on me to harden my
mustache. They peeled the enamel off Cassandra’s tooth.
By god, she marches over purple plums. She salutes and

keeps marching on the purple plums. A washed pot, if
you shine a deer in it, vomits craquelures back in your
mouth and eyes. King of the news, hitch up your sleigh, trample
the taffeta

and yarrow. There are petals in the cups. They beckon to a feast
of the moon. Elongated horses are the hairstyle around
the moon. Giants fight over cards. Giants rake

leaves. The rakes may go, the sand remains, the rakes
may go, the earth remains. Bang! goes a rake handle, and hits
a giant in the head, because somebody stepped on the

rake tines. Doves are the tiles between cathedrals. Woodsmen
bend down, get up, bend down, the town hall is split on its
peak. A peacock takes pity on a lake. Replace

tooth with fake gemstone, woodsman with wooden
boat. Mists rampage in the comics. The horse is fond
of white. A beggar banging with a stick on the edge of

a bell has sand and rain pouring from his hat.
Gums are a cozy nest. Draw little jugs out of the clay. The Turks
made off with Srebrna while she drank at a well.


I’ve invented a machine that, as soon as a goldfinch opens
its throat, starts dumping bags of concrete inside. Who licked the candies
into concrete, we don’t know. Who then brought

the concrete to life, we don’t know. The goldfinch sails. The goldfinch
sings. Where are you, Eugenijus? Racing across, opening
a hollow with your fingernails. You the pain of the contour, me

that of the train. Linda Bierds drives a car that comes
from the Tatras. The condor ripens the bird. My trousers smell like
gasoline. Do you see the pool? Do you see the pool? Do you see

the angel’s elbow? It led me to those cliffs arrayed
like Vikings. Zebras have scraped eyes.
Ibrahim, Drago and Miklavž are great guys.

Iodine boils a bird’s head. It dies in the mud. I
swallow bread. What did you see in the inner
darkness to earn it? A bifurcation for

both and the bent, silver-plated head of a
walking stick? Boxes of honey delivered
by parachute, which deer antlers

provided? Pythagoras is plunder. A cat licks
his ears all summer and winter. Pins directed
the bloodflow of saints. Stones erode

on the shoals. I shove Diran’s head away from
the table. This clump is a tombolo. And that
pigeon on the plate. Mother of pearl. Gray head.


Every ball is a bloody, beautiful mask of powerful people.
We make up pretzels.
I always did like chickens.

O, slender fez, mildew perching on its fur.
The poet is an oafish celeb on a hood.
Of every wondrous power. On a hood.

I glance over my right shoulder and see
a lake with the canon bathing in it.
The marmots that shot past me weren’t

marmots. Come on, god, sail off to abstraction.
Stepfather! Your mouthful eats soup, you only see it.
Nem Keckeget arrives in Japan and jumps down.

Us Us darns stockings. Here are the teeth of the
iron comb that still remembers the station
and steam, but for Cendrars no longer matters.

The only thing now is that you can’t just
pleasantly say, “if you’d take off that shirt,
too,” the way Marci and Hudi said it to me.

Table of Contents


The Bride Wins Both Times 1
Grischa’s Fez 2
Honey and Holofernes 4
Trans-Siberia 6
San Pietro a Cascia with Masaccio 7
Diran Adebayo 8
We Build a Barn and Read Reader’s Digest 9
Strangling in Dreams 10
All the Instruments Have Collapsed 11
Waiting on Šaranoviˇc Street 12
So We Don’t Lose Our Virginity 13
Where Is the Little Wall From 15
Strange Dreams 16
At Baroness Beatrice Monti della Corte von Rezzori’s 17
“I Don’t Like Proust, He Didn’t Have Enough Sex,” Diran Says 19
Pharaohs and Kings, Kassel, Paris 20
Taverna 21
Breakfast with My Hostess in Aldeborough 22
Skaters 24
Prada, Montevarchi, Before Cézanne 26
That’s How Many Mighty Heaven Will Endure 27
Title Still Pending 28
Donnini 29
Florenza 30
Persia 31
Until Pessoa Nothing 32
Scrubbed Slab, Dark Screen 34
A Word to the Hunters 35
The Tip Grows On Before the Step 36
La Torre, Celan 37
The Sirens 39
Ivo Štandeker 40
An Hour 41
San Juan de la Cruz Rolled in the Snow 44
Rites and the Membrane 45
Santa Rita 47
Sounds Near Pistoletto 49
The Gentleman Is a Bit Inclined to Disorder 53
Marais 56
Lindos 57
White Hash, Black Weed 58
The Slave 61
Lime Tree 63
Flight 66
Ptuj 67
Sugar 68
Athos 69
Letter from Kevin Holden 70
The Flight into the Land of Egypt 73
The Soul Murders the Tile 76
Brother 78
Pleasure 79
The Blister 80
Reminding Mankind of Yourself with a Whip 82
Chiunque Giunge le Mani 84

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