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  • For You, and With Closed Eyes
  • Aleš Šteger (bio)
    Translated by Brian Henry (bio)

For You

Here, have a condom. You pretend you don’t want it,But in fact you need it. Take it. Like so.Now read what’s written on the silvery surface of the wrapper.You don’t understand the language, but you like it because you knowThe words are meant for you.Who knows, maybe they’re even about youOr were written with you in mind.Open it. Without fake modesty. It’s yours,Do what you want with it. Like so.Now put it to your mouth. No, no, you heard right,Put it to your mouth. If you cannot do it this way,Close your eyes and imagineThat you’re holding a scrap of perfumed silk in your hands,Or an oxeye daisy that you want to kiss.And now: blow. Yes, blow. Slowly. Wait until the breathCarries everything you’ve gathered out of you. And soIt already grows. Blow even harder. See how big it’s becoming?Do you like it? That’s enough now. It might expandTo fill the whole room, press you against the wallAnd crush you. That’s enough, I said. It’s timeFor you to tie it. Like soooo. Now it’s trulyYours, and you can do whatever you want with it.Aaah, I see that you’ve taken red lipstickAnd started to draw on it. You’ve drawn a dot.And another. And underneath, a smile.Now I understand. You’d like to draw meAnd with that become my master, but you didn’t quiteGet me right and now you’re angry. You’re furious.But—what is this? It seems that behind my smile,There, where there’s nothing except your exhaled air,There is something. You know this isn’t possible, but still,This feeling won’t leave you. On the contrary:You’re increasingly overwhelmed and restless. You have the feelingThat you’re lost in a dark forestOr that you cannot move your limbs anymore.You hate yourself when you’re like that, so you place your ear [End Page 9] To the mouth you drew for me, and listen intently.The breath that you happily released earlier suddenly runs out.Terrified, you listen again. NowThere is no longer any doubt. Someone is thereInside the emptiness of the condom, and you damn well knowThat where no one is, there can be only God.Astonished, you move away, since you never expected,Let alone predicted, something like that, and only nowDo you become truly furious. Even more: you are crazy with fearSince you’re not convinced that in a moment,When you pull out a razor and cut slowly and deeplyInto me, I really will disappear forever. [End Page 10]

With Closed Eyes

When you close your eyes, you see a poem.It has been emptied of the solidity of all the things you secretly want.It reminds you of a newly painted white roomIn which summer forgot to close the windows and door.But this is just an inadequate allusion to images of the physical world.There are no entrances or exits in this poem.This poem only has substance in a gaseous state.The people who float inside it, the metaphorsThat hang on its walls could beInstantly dispersed by a galactic wind and blend into something else.Two naked clouds that have just started making loveAre scattered and blown by the stars into the cloudOf a slaughtered pig surrounded by the gray cloudOf the cigarette smoke of a father who observes everything,Hidden in the dark corner of the poem. Most likelyHe is the real author of every poem. You don’t see himIn the darkness until he comes upSilently from behind, playfully covers your eyes with his palmsAnd asks: Who am I? Will you kill me? Are you mine? [End Page 11]

Aleš Šteger

Aleš Šteger has published seven books of poetry, three novels, and two books of essays in Slovenian. His...


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pp. 9-11
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