The word here

Aleš Šteger
Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry

The word HERE,The heaviest word,It weighs moreThan a grammarAnd vocabularyFull of elephants.Here is a place,An over-saturatedCrossroadsOf dead ends.The word HEREPutsThe word JUNGLE in it.In it, the word ELEPHANT,Which breaks into it.The word is nearlyEmpty.Only a holeInside a holeInsideEmptiness.A mouth without lips,Without a throat,Swallowing a word.The word HERE,A word whereOnce upon a timeThe word ELEPHANTStretched out its trunk.Even though the holeDoes not markThe place of disappearance.There was something.There isn't something anymore.Some once upon a time,The lightness withWhich it breaks intoA mouth that rattlesOne more time,But it isn't dying,You think,And this thoughtBreaks intoThe questionAbout the disappearance of death.And the question breaksInto the objection NO,No into the argumentAbout the arrival of death,Which has noHere of its own;It arrives withIts own unplaces.Enter,You absent guest,Leave,You unreadable trace,StillIn search ofA worldFor a place,Which it carriesWith itself.

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

Aleš Šteger has published eight books of poetry, three novels, and two books of essays in Slovenian. Five of his books have been published in English: The Book of Things, which won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award; Berlin; Essential Baggage; the novel Absolution; and Above the Sky Beneath the Earth.

Find more information here:

Brian Henry is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Permanent State (Threadsuns, 2020). He has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices, Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers, and Aleš Šteger’s Above the Sky Beneath the Earth and The Book of Things, which won the Best Translated Book Award. His work has received numerous honors, including two NEA fellowships, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, a Howard Foundation fellowship, and a Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences grant.


San Francisco, California

Gillian Conoley

VOLT was created on an unusually sunny afternoon in San Francisco in 1991. VOLT was originally published by the Pacific Film and Literary Association, a non-profit organization registered in California. VOLT is now housed at Sonoma State University. Innovative in design and content, VOLT publishes a range of adventurous writing. The magazine’s size (9″ by 12″) offers a larger space than usual for an individual poem or piece of prose. Often, work utilizing white space and typography can be found in VOLT.

Founded and edited by poet Gillian Conoley, VOLT appears every spring. Each issue includes cover art, frequently by such artists as Eve Ascheim, Joan Mitchell, Hawley Hussey, Jo Whaley, and Stephen Curry. Contributors have included Lyn Hejinian, Harryette Mullen, Norma Cole, Barbara Guest, Yusef Komunyakaa, Leslie Scalapino, Lisa Fishman, Brian Teare, Andrew Joron, and Charles Simic, among many others. Fiction Editor is novelist Stefan Kiesbye.

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.