The whole time he tells you what to do.
His voice is chocolate candy filled with hysteria.

He is a loving blackmailer. An owl blind in one eye.
It is enough that he sees half the world to command the other half.

He gladly inspects himself in the mirror, but goes crazy if you praise him
Before another. He is not your property. He is not your adornment.

Only when you dance and when you make love with him, he coos.
Then cages open. Then he is the white message bearer of the gods.

Gradually you detach him more often, hide him in a box, misplace him.
But his bite at the lobe still whispers to you.

As if Eros holds you with invisible filigree pliers
And solders words of guilt and the silence of betrayal into your ear.

A copy of a stone from Sisyphus’s mountain is set inside it.
You roll hope uphill. And you roll downhill drunk, despondent and alone.

Aleš Šteger

Slovenian writer Aleš Šteger has published seven books of poetry, three novels, and two books of essays. A Chevalier des Artes et Lettres in France and a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts, he received the 1998 Veronika Prize for the best Slovenian poetry book, the 1999 Petrarch Prize for young European authors, the 2007 Rožanc Award for the best Slovenian book of essays, and the 2016 International Bienek Prize. His work has been translated into over 15 languages, including Chinese, German, Czech, Croatian, Hungarian, and Spanish. He has published four books in English: The Book of Things appeared from BOA Editions in 2010 as a Lannan Foundation selection and won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award; Berlin, a collection of lyric essays, appeared from Counterpath Press in 2015; Essential Baggage, a book of prose poems, appeared from Equipage in England in 2016; and the novel Absolution, which appeared in England in 2017. He also has worked in the field of visual arts (most recently with a large-scale installation at the International Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India), completed several collaborations with musicians (Godalika, Uroš Rojko, Peter N. Gruber), and collaborated with Peter Zach on the film Beyond Boundaries.

Brian Henry

Brian Henry is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Static & Snow (Black Ocean, 2015). He co-edited the international magazine Verse from 1995 to 2017 and established the Tomaž Šalamun Prize in 2015. His translation of Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things appeared from BOA Editions in 2010 and won the Best Translated Book Award. He also has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices (Harcourt, 2008) and Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers (BOA, 2015). His poetry and translations have received numerous honors, including an NEA fellowship, a Howard Foundation grant, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize, the Cecil B. Hemley Memorial Award, the George Bogin Memorial Award, and a Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences grant.