Lives Journal 13

Stane Wakounig






They were given to me on my name day

I saw them

on the wooden table,

the sun-yellow flowers.

»Oh yes, my name day.«

My heart was filled with joy.

I got closer to them.

As my hand

tenuously touched them,

each petal seemed to quiver.

Marvelously fragrant,

they contained

honeyed life

within them.

My name day passed

with the flowers on the table.

And now, when I enter the room,

I sadly see the flowers,

heads hanging,

petals withering,

despair consuming them

as they wait for death.






I wanted to

had to

but couldn't.

I made a fist

tried to strike

but missed.

I ran

but my legs were leaden.


I screamed

but could utter no words.

I wept

but there were no tears.

I prayed

but had no belief in God.


Like beggars

my thoughts scurried

from door to door

hoping to find

a mouthful of peace

a shred of joy

and a haven from the cold.






He despaired

although he was still young.

He didn't know what to do

with his despair.

That's why he began to hope again.

He hoped

he'd despair

of his despair.






I saw a man

sitting at the roadside

asking for alms.


I stopped,

looked into the purse

of my words,

rummaged in it,

picked out

a few pennies of hope

and shoved them

into his emaciated hand.


He got up,

placed his crutches

under his arms,

and trotted away.

Were there pennies in his heart?

Was he going off into a rosy future?






A pool of blood

cries to the heavens.

The empty wreck

lies in the ditch.

Warped metal

and chipped paint

offers itself bluntly

to the wincing glances.


The bystanders disperse.



the street sweeper

in his faded green garb

approaches with deference

to sweep painful memories away

with his broom.



Translated by Herbert Kuhner (with Zdravko Inzko, Peter Kersche, Klaus Detlef Olof)





STANE WAKOUNIG (1946, Zhelezna Kapla / Eisenkappel), Austrian-Carinthian Slovenian poet, teacher. Graduated at the Federal Gymnasium for Slovenians in Klagenfurt (1966), studies of theology, then pedagogy, both in Klagenfurt. In his poems, with simple but refined hearing, he records tiny but significant everyday experiences in the immediate environment. (ed. n. I. A.)




Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)