Bowling Alley

Translated from Slovenian by Brian Henry




Here I am on my old turf, my hand again in yours, going
down the stairs, as long as summer, which is pale from many
couples and families on the warm side of husks. We are still
walking, although now I am standing alone, right here,


where you gave me a good lesson in passion and melted the knot
at the bottom of my stomach, right here, where sports muscles
and club colors have been celebrated. Here I am, by the water again,
on the stairs, my youth in a sewn-up pocket of time and milk,


spilled in a television commercial, the succulent breasts of Marjeta
Gregorač, a girl from a poor neighborhood, with a talent for long
sighs and a short career, here I am on my old turf, I am what
I wanted to be, no longer a pedestrian, not yet a bench,


between the mercy of a single stroll and the seeds of the first
insight, don’t look back, son, look strictly ahead
like miniature grasses and surprised bowlers look,
a white ball rolls in the other direction: where it’s going, talk!





Aleš Debeljak has published eight books of poetry and twelve books of essays, which have been translated into thirteen languages worldwide. His most recent book is Without Anesthesia: New and Selected Poems. He has won the Preseren Foundation Prize (Slovenian National Book Award), the Miriam Lindberg Israel Poetry for Peace Prize, the Chiqyu Poetry Prize in Japan, and the Jenko Prize. Debeljak teaches in the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.

Brian Henry is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Brother No One. His translation of Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry. He has received numerous awards for his work, including fellowships from the NEA, the Howard Foundation, and the Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

“Bowling Alley” appears in Scenester issue of TLR (Early Summer, 2013).

Cover of TLR's Scenester, Early Summer 2013