Monday, October 18, 2010

Medicine Show

for Louis Dumur

Across the plain the mountebanks
Slip away past garden walls
Past the doors of smoky taverns
Through villages without churches

And the children lead the way
The others follow dreaming
The fruit trees give in one by one
When they beckon them from afar

They carry barbells and dumbbells
Drums and gilded hoops
The bear and the monkey wise beasts
Beg small change along the way

translation by  Jack Hayes © 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Merlin & The Old Woman

The sun on that day swelled like a maternal
Belly bleeding slowly through the sky
The light is my mother O bloody light
The clouds flowed like menstrual flux

At the crossroads where only a thornless
Compass rose flourished in winter
Merlin kept watch on life and the eternal cause
Making the universe die then be born anew

An old woman green mantled on a mule
Followed the riverbank downstream
And ancient Merlin on the deserted plain
Beat his breast and cried out Rival

O my frozen being whose fate overwhelms me
Whose flesh-sun shivers do you wish to see
My Memory my twin coming to love me
To see that fine unfortunate son I long to hold

His gesture toppled the upheavals’ pride
The dancing sun stirred its own navel
And suddenly the springtime of love & valor
Led a young April day by the hand

The roads from the west were strewn with
Bones with weeds thick with fate and flowers
With memorials trembling by green carrion
While the winds conveyed down and misfortune

Dismounting her mule his lover stepped forward lightly
With a light touch the breeze smoothed her finery
Then the pale lovers joined their mad hands
The knot of their fingers formed the space of their love

She dangled miming a rhythm of existence
She cried I hoped for your call for a hundred years
The stars of your life held sway over my dance
Morgana watched from Mount Gibel’s summit

Ah, it’s sweet to dance when a mirage of singing
Breaks out and the winds of horror
Feign the hilarious moon’s laughter
And frighten the ghostly forerunners

I fashioned white gestures in the desert
Lemurs swarmed through my nightmares
My whirling expressed the bliss
That is nothing but the Art’s pure effect

I only plucked the hawthorn’s blooms
At springtime's end when they wished to be deflowered
When birds of prey proclaimed their ravaging
Of stillborn lambs and child gods doomed to death

I have aged you see while you live I dance
But I would soon have wearied and hawthorn blossoms
This April would have kept a poor secret
The corpse of an old woman who died miming sorrow

And their hands rose like a bright flock of doves
That night fell upon like a vulture
Then Merlin moved to the east saying May he rise
Memory’s son Love’s peer

Whether he rises from muck or may be man’s shadow
He is indeed my son my immortal work
His brow haloed with fire on the road to Rome
He will walk alone watching heaven

The lady who awaits me is named Vivian
And when springtime comes with new sorrows
Lying amongst the marjoram and coltsfoot
I will last interminably under the hawthorn

© Jack Hayes 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Door

The hotel door smiles terribly
What has this done to me mother
Being the clerk for whom alone nothing exists
Pi-mus fish moving coupled through deep sad water
Fresh angels disembarked at Marseilles yesterday morning
I hear a distant song dying and dying again
Humble as I am who am worth nothing

Child I've given you what I had labor

translation © Jack Hayes 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010


If John the Baptist might smile once again
Sire I would dance better than seraphim
Tell me mother what makes you grieve
Attired as a countess at the Dauphin’s side

My heart throbbed it throbbed at his words
As I danced through the fennel listening
And embroidered lilies across a pennant
To flutter at last from the tip of his staff

Tell me for whom I’ll embroider them now
His staff blooms anew on the banks of Jordan
King Herod when your soldiers led him away
All the lilies shriveled in my garden

Come with me everyone under the quincunx
            Don’t cry delightful jester
Take this head as your cap and bells and dance
Don’t touch his brow mother it has grown cold

Sire lead the procession let the guard follow
We’ll dig a hole and bury it
We’ll plant flowers and dance in a ring
Till the hour I lose my garter
                The king his snuffbox
                The princess her rosary
                The priest his breviary

translation © Jack Hayes 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Farewell

I plucked this sprig of heather
Autumn’s dead remember this
We’ll see each other no more on earth
Scent of time sprig of heather
And remember I await you

translation © Jack Hayes 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Poem Read At André Salmon’s Wedding

July 13 1909

Seeing the flags this morning I didn’t tell myself
Behold the rich garments of the poor
Or democratic modesty wants to veil its sorrow
Or honoring liberty now makes us imitate
Leaves o vegetable liberty o sole earthly liberty
Or the houses are ablaze because we’ll leave never to return
Or these restless hands will labor tomorrow for us all
Or even they’ve hanged those who couldn’t make the most of life
Or even they’ve renewed the world by recapturing the Bastille
I know it’s only renewed by those grounded in poetry
Paris is decked out because my friend André Salmon’s getting
        married there

We used to meet up in a damned dive
When we were young
Both of us smoking and shabbily dressed waiting for sunrise
Smitten smitten with the same words whose meanings will have
        to be changed
Deceived deceived poor kids and we still didn’t know how to laugh
The table and two glasses became a dying man who cast us
        Orpheus’ last glance
The glasses fell shattered
And we learned how to laugh
We parted then pilgrims of perdition
Across streets across countries across reason
I saw him again on the bank of the river where Ophelia was floating
Who still floats white amongst the water lilies
He went off amongst wan Hamlets
Playing the airs of madness on his flute
I saw him near a dying muzhik counting his blessings
While admiring the snow that looked like naked women
I saw him doing this or that in honor of the same words
That change children’s expressions and I’m saying these things
Recollection and Expectation because my friend André Salmon is
        getting married

Let’s rejoice not because our friendship has been the river that
        made us fertile
River lands whose abundance is the nourishment all hope for
Or because our glasses cast once more Orpheus’ dying glance
Or because we’ve grown so large that many people confuse our
        eyes with stars
Or because flags flap at the windows of citizens who’ve been
        content these hundred years to have life and trifles to defend

Or because grounded in poetry we have the right to words that
        form and unmake the
Or because we can weep without being absurd and because we
        know how to laugh
Or because we’re smoking and drinking as in the old days
Let’s rejoice because the director of fire and poets
Love filling like light
All the solid space between stars and planets
Love wishes that my friend André Salmon get married today

translation © Jack Hayes 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

White Snow

Angels the angels in the skies
One’s dressed up like an officer
One’s dressed up like a chef
And the others are singing

Comely officer color of the skies
Long long after Christmas gentle spring
Will decorate you with a shining sun
With a shining sun

The chef plucks the geese
Ah! let the snow fall
And fall if only I held
My beloved in my arms

translation © Jack Hayes 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010


    You danced there a little girl
    Will you dance there a grandmother
    It’s the hop skip of the jig
    All the bells will ring
    But when will you come back Marie

    The mummers are silent
    The music so far off
    It seems to come from the sky
Yes I’d love you but love you only a little
    My affliction’s delicious

    The sheep move off through the snow
    Woolen flocks & silver flakes
    Soldiers marching if only I had
    A heart of my own a changing heart
    Changing but then what do I know

    Do I know where your hair will be
    Curls unruly as ocean whitecaps
    Do I know where your hair will be
    And your hands the autumn leaves
    That scatter like our vows

    I used to walk by the Seine
    An ancient book under my arm
    The river’s the same as my pain
    It flows & never runs dry
    When will the week ever end


translation © Jack Hayes 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Traveler

Open this door where I'm knocking in tears

Life is unsettled as Euripos straits

You were watching a cloudbank descending
With the orphan steamship toward future fevers
And all those regrets and all those repentances
    Do you remember

Waves arched fish surmarine flowers
One night it was the sea
And the rivers spread wide there

I remember I still remember

One evening I stopped at a gloomy inn
Near the Luxembourg
At the back of the room a Christ was flying
Someone had a ferret
Someone else a hedgehog
We played cards
And you had forgotten me

Do you remember the railway stations’ long orphanage
We passed through cities that spun round all the day
And vomited the sun all the night
O sailors o dark women and you my comrades
    Do you remember

Two sailors who never parted
Two sailors who never spoke
The youngest died capsized

Dear companions
The railway stations’ electric chimes the reapers’ song
A butcher’s sled regiment of countless streets
The bridges’ cavalry nights livid with alcohol
Towns I’ve seen living like madwomen

Do you recall the suburbs the plaintive flock of landscapes

Cypresses cast their shadows under the moon
That night at summer’s decline I heard
An inflamed languorous bird and
The eternal sound of a wide dark river

But dying & spinning toward the estuary
Were all the glances all the glances of all eyes
The banks were deserted grassy silent
And on the other side the mountain stood clear

Then soundlessly without seeing a living soul
Living shadows passed across the mountain
In profile or suddenly turning blurred faces
Keeping their lances’ shadows always forward

These shadows against this sheer mountain
Grew or now & then abruptly shrank
And these beard shadows wept as if human
Gliding step by step along the clear mountain

Who do you remember in these old photos
Do you remember the day a bee dropped into the fire
It was you recall at the end of summer

Two sailors who’d never parted
The elder wore an iron chain round his neck
The younger kept his blond hair in a pigtail

Open this door where I'm knocking in tears

Life is unsettled as Euripos straits


translation, Jack Hayes © 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010


On the High Street in Cologne
Evenings she walked back and forth
Offering it to everyone a real babe
Then bored of the sidewalks she
Drank till closing in shady bars

She hit bottom
For a carrot-top ruddy pimp
He reeked of garlic
Who coming back from Formosa
Snatched her from a Shanghai brothel

I know people all sorts
They don’t live up to their destinies
Wavering like dead leaves
Their eyes half burnt-out fires
Their hearts ajar like their doors

translation © Jack Hayes 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010


for M. Léon Bailby

Tranquil bird on inverse wing bird
Nesting in mid-air
At the limit where our soil still gleams
Lower your second eyelid earth dazzles you
When you raise your head

And I too up close am gloomy and dull
A fog that settles obscuring the lanterns
A hand rising all of a sudden in front of your eyes
A veil between you and all light
And I’ll withdraw growing luminous in the midst of shadows
And the aligned eyes of beloved stars

Tranquil bird on inverse wing bird
Nesting in mid-air
At the limit where my memory still gleams
Lower your second eyelid
Not because of the sun not because of the earth
But for this oblong fire that will intensify
To a point where one day it will become the only light

One day
One day I was waiting for myself
I told myself Guillaume it’s time you came
So that I may know at last who I am
I who know others

I know them by my five senses and several others
I only need to see their feet to remake people by the thousands
To see their panicked feet a single hair of their heads
Or their tongue if I feel like playing doctor
Or their children if I feel like playing prophet
The owners’ ships my colleagues’ pens
The coins of the blind the hands of mutes
Or because of its words not its writing
A letter written by someone over twenty
I only need to sniff the odor of their churches
The odor of rivers through their cities
The scent of flowers in public gardens
O Cornelius Aggrippa the smell of one little dog is enough

For me to describe precisely your fellow citizens of Cologne
Their wise-kings and the swarm of Ursulines
That inspired your error regarding all women
I only need to sample the laurel they raise for me to love or scorn
And to touch his clothing
To determine if someone has the chills
People I know
I only need to hear the sound of their footsteps
To point out forever which direction they’ve taken
All these things are enough for me to believe I have the right
To resurrect the others
One day I was waiting for myself
I told myself William it’s time you came
And with a lyric step the ones I love moved forward
And I wasn’t among them
Giants covered with algae moved through their undersea
Cities where only towers were islands
And that sea with the brightness of its depths
Flowed as blood through my veins and caused my heart to beat
Then there came upon earth a thousand white tribes
Each man of them holding a rose in his hand
And the language they invented along the way
I learned it from their mouths and I still speak it
The procession passed and I searched for my body there
All those who arrived and were not myself
Brought the pieces of myself one by one

They built me little by little like a tower
The peoples crowded together and I myself appeared
Formed by all bodies and all human matters

Time past Passed away You gods who formed me
I only live passing on as you passed on
And averting my eyes from the future’s void
I see all the past arise in myself

Nothing’s dead but what hasn’t yet lived
Beside the shining past tomorrow’s colorless
It’s formless too beside what’s perfectly finished
Presenting at once the effort and the effect

translation © Jack Hayes 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010


Anemone and columbine
Sprout in the garden
Where melancholy’s sleeping
With love and scorn on either side

Our shadows come there too
When night dispels them
The sun that gave them their gloom
Vanishes with them

Divinities of running streams
Let their hair flow
Move on you have to follow
The lovely shadow you yearn for

translation © Jack Hayes 1990-2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

The House of the Dead

for Maurice Raymal

The house of the dead lay at the graveyard’s edge
And enclosed it like a cloister
Inside its glass cases
Like the ones in chic shops
Instead of smiling standing upright
Mannequins grimaced throughout eternity

Arriving in Munich after two or three weeks
I visited merely by chance and for the first time
This nearly deserted cemetery
And my teeth chattered
Seeing this entire bourgeoisie
Exposed and dressed in their best
Awaiting burial

Swift as memory
Their eyes were rekindled
Glass cell by glass cell
The heavens were peopled with an inveterate
And the earth flat into infinity
As before Galileo
Swarmed with a thousand unmoving mythic beasts
An angel in diamond shattered every glass case
And the dead accosted me
With otherworldly demeanors
Though their faces and postures
Soon became less funereal
And heaven and earth both lost
Their look of phantasmagoria

The dead rejoiced
To see their dead bodies between themselves and the light
They laughed over their shadow and watched it
As if it it truly were
Their past life

So I counted them
There were forty-nine men
Women and children
Who all grew better looking
And then looked at me
With so much warmth
With so much tenderness even
That suddenly
Befriending them
I invited them out for a stroll
Far from their houses’ archways

And arm in arm
Whistling military airs
Yes all your sins are forgiven
We left the graveyard behind

We passed through the city
And met up often
With parents with friends who joined
This little band of the recently deceased
Everyone was so gay
So fetching so hearty
If it would’ve taken a clever rascal
To tell the dead from the living
Then we scattered
Across the countryside

Two light horsemen joined us
We welcomed them in
They were whittling viburnum
And elder
Which they made into whistles
To give to the children

They hadn’t forgotten how to dance
These dead men and women
They could drink too
And time to time a bell
Announced that another keg
Was about to be tapped

A dead woman sat on a bench
Near a barberry bush
And let a student
Get on his knees
To speak to her of betrothal

I will wait for you
Ten years twenty if I must
Your wish is my desire

I will wait for you
All of your life
The dead woman answered

Some children
Of this world or the next
Were singing rounds
The words absurd and lyrical
Songs that doubtless are the remains
Of humanity’s
Most ancient poetic monuments

The student placed a ring
On the young dead woman’s finger
Here is the pledge of my love
Of our betrothal
Neither time nor absence
Will make us forget our vows
And one day we’ll have a lovely wedding
Tufts of myrtle
In your garments and in your hair
A fine sermon at the church
Long speeches after the banquet
And music
And music

Our children
Said the bride-to-be
Will be lovelier lovelier still
Alas! the ring was broken
Than if they were silver or gold

Emerald or diamond
Will be brighter brighter still
Than the stars in the heavens
Than the dawn’s light
Than your glances my love
Will smell sweeter still
Alas! the ring is broken
Than lilacs about to blossom
Than thyme or rose or heather
Or lavender or rosemary

The musicians went away
And we continued our stroll

On the shore of a lake
We played ducks and drakes
Skipping flat rocks
Over water that scarcely rippled

Some boats were moored
In a cove
We untied them
And the whole band embarked
Several dead men rowed
With just as much vigor as living men

At the prow of the boat I steered
A dead man spoke with a young woman
Who wore a yellow dress
A black corsage
With blue ribbons and a gray hat
Decked with a small uncurled feather

I love you
He said
As the pigeon loves the dove
As the nocturnal insect
Loves light

Too late
The living woman answered
Deny this forbidden love deny if it
I’m married
See this shining ring
My hands are trembling
I’m weeping I want to die

The boats had landed
At a spot where the light horsemen
Knew of an echo that answered from the shore
We called to if it without let up

The questions were so extravagant
And the answers so apt
We could have laughed ourselves to death
And the dead man said to the living woman

We’ll be so happy together
The waters will close over us once more
But you’re weeping your hands are trembling
None of us will return

We went ashore and headed back
The lovers were in love
And two-by-two with lovely mouths
They walked at uneven distances
The dead men had chosen living women
And the living men
Dead women
Sometimes a juniper
Appeared like a phantom
The children split the air
Blowing viburnum
Or elder whistles
With hollow cheeks
While the soldiers
Sang Tyrolean airs
Yodeling answers the way if it’s done
In the mountains

In the city
Our band diminished bit by bit
We said
See you tomorrow
See you later
A lot went into the beer gardens
Some others left us
At a dog butcher
Where they bought their supper

Soon I was left alone with the dead
Who went straightaway
To the graveyard
Under the archways
I saw them again
Laid out
And dressed up
Awaiting burial underneath glass

They had no idea
Of what had happened
But the living guarded the memory
If it was an unforeseen blessing
And so certain
That they had no fear of losing if it

They lived so nobly
That those who just the evening before
Had looked on them as equals
Or even less
Now admired
Their power their wealth their genius
For nothing will raise you up
Like having loved a dead man or a dead woman
You’re so pure that you end up
In the glaciers of memory
Merging with recollection
You’re fortified for life
And no longer need anyone

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010


On the coast of Texas
Between Mobile and Galveston there is a
Large garden with roses galore
It also contains a country house
Itself a big rose

A woman often strolls
All alone through the garden
And when I walk past on the road fringed with lime trees
We look at each other

Because that woman's a Mennonite
Her rosebushes and her garments have no buttons
Two are missing from my jacket
The lady and I observe almost the same rite

translation by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010


for Mademoiselle Marie Laurencin

Brushed by the dead’s shades
On the grass where day grows weary
Columbine strips naked
And observes herself in the pond

A twilight charlatan
Boasts of tricks he’s about to do
The colorless sky is spangled
With stars as pale as milk

On stage the pasty harlequin
Begins by greeting the spectators
Magicians from Bohemia
Several fairies and some sorcerers

And then unhooking a star
He holds it in outstretched arms
While a hanged man claps
The cymbals with his feet

A blind man sings a baby lullaby
A doe goes past with her fawns
And the dwarf sadly watches
While harlequin grows thrice majestic

translation by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010


And the sole string of the monochord fiddle

translation by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010


for Max Jacob

Toward Rosemonde’s palace in the depth of Dream
My reveries step out barefoot to their revelery
A king’s gift the palace like a naked king rises
Whipped flesh and rose garden roses

In the garden’s depths we see my thoughts
Smiling at the concert the frogs are performing
They fancy the cypress trees those big distaffs
And the sun the roses’ mirror is shattered

Bleeding stigmatized hands pressing the windows
What archer wounded by sunset punctured them
The resin that renders the wines of Cypress bitter
My mouth has tasted this at the white lamb’s love-feast

Sitting on the adulterous king’s pointed knees
In her May years and dressed to the nines
Lady Rosemonde rolls her small round eyes
With mysterious air like the eyes of the Huns

Lady of my thoughts asshole of natural pearl
Neither pearl nor asshole can match the Orient
Who do you await
Reveries marching toward the Orient
My loveliest neighbors

Knock knock Come into the waiting room day closes
In shadows the night-light's a baked gold gem
Hang your heads by their braids on the hat-pegs
Sky nearly nocturnal glints with needles

We entered the dining room our nostrils
Filled with the odor of burnt lard & phlegm
We had twenty soups three the color of urine
And the king had two poached eggs in broth

Then the kitchen boys brought in the meat
Roasts of thoughts that died in my brain
My lovely stillborn dreams in underdone rashers
And my gamey memories in meat pies

Now these thoughts dead for millenia
Had the bland taste of frozen mammoths
Bones or dreamers came from the bone-yard
In a dance of death along my cerebellum’s folds

And all these meats shouted unheard of things
        But by God!
        Famished stomachs lack ears
And the guests all tried to out-chew each other

By God! cried the sirloins then
Those big meat pies marrowbones beef stews
Tongues of fire where are my pentacosts
My thoughts of all lands and all times

translation by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Crocuses

The meadow is lethal though lovely in autumn
The cows grazing there
Are slowly poisoned
The crocus its color like circles under eyes like lilacs
Blooms there your eyes are like that flower
Violet like their circles and like autumn
And for your eyes' sake my life’s slowly poisoned

School children come making a fracas
Dressed in jackets playing harmonicas
They pick the crocuses that seem like mothers
Daughters of their daughters and colored like your lashes
That flutter as flowers flutter in a crazy breeze

The guardian of that flock sings sweetly
While slowly and lowing the cows leave
Forever that meadow autumn made bloom evilly

translation by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Song Of The Poorly-Loved

for Paul Léautaud

So I sang this ballad
In 1903 not knowing
If my love resembled
A lovely Phoenix dying at evening
Morning will see it rise again

One misty London evening
Some hoodlum who resembled
My love came up to me
And shot me such a glance
I lowered my eyes in shame

I followed this punk who was
Whistling his hands in his pockets
Between houses that appeared like
The Red Sea’s parted waters
I was Pharaoh he the Hebrews

May these waves of bricks crash down
If you were not dearly loved
I am the lord of Egypt
His sister-queen his army
If you are not my only love

At a street corner set ablaze

With lamplight from every window
Wounds in the bloody fog
Where the windows were lamenting
Was a woman who looked like her

The same heartless gaze
And scar across her bare throat
She staggered smashed from a bar
It was then I recognized
Love’s falsehood

When wise Ulysses at last
Found his way to his homeland
His aged dog remembered him
And by a finely woven cloth
His wife awaited his return

Shakuntula’s royal spouse
Weary of conquests rejoiced
When he returned to find her
Wasted from waiting misty-eyed
Stroking her male gazelle

I thought of these happy kings
When this false beloved and she
I was in love with still
Collided shadow to shadow
Rendering me so unhappy

Hell’s built on such regrets o
If only the skies would obliterate my vows
For her kiss the kings of this world
Would die the destitute renowned
Would sell their shadows for her

I’ve wintered inside my past
Come again Easter sun
And thaw a heart more icy
Than the forty of Sebaste
Who weren’t martyred as much as my life

O memory my fair ship
Have we sailed far enough
Across these bitter waters
Have we strayed far enough
From lovely dawn toward cheerless evening

Farewell false love I mistook
For the woman who’s gone away
For the one I lost
In Germany last year
The one I will see no more

Milky way o shining sister
Of Canaan’s white rivers
And lovers’ white bodies
We dead swimmers shall follow
Your course toward other nebulas

I recall another year
An April morning at dawn
I sang my beloved joy
A love song in a manly voice
In love’s own season


It’s spring come little Daisy
And stroll the fair woodlands
Hens cackle in the barnyard
Dawn fills the sky with rosy folds
Love comes forth to win thee

Mars and Venus have returned
Their lips maddened they’re embracing
In the midst of innocent places
Where beneath the leafening roses
Fair rosy gods dance naked

Come sweetness you’re the queen
Of this blossoming
Nature’s lovely and touching
Pan’s whistling throughout the forest
And damp frogs are singing

Most of these gods have perished
The willows are weeping for them
Great Pan      Love      Jesus Christ
Are all dead the tomcats are howling
In the yard I’m weeping in Paris

I who know lays made for queens

The sad strains of my days
Hymns slaves made to the moray
The ballad of the poorly-loved
And songs for the sirens

Love’s dead I’m trembling for it

I adore these lovely idols
Memories that resemble her
And like Mausolus’ wife
I remain faithful and grieving

I’m faithful as a mastiff

To its master as ivy to the bough
And as the Zaprogian Cossacks
Those pious drunks and thieves
To the steppes and the ten commandments

Bear like a yoke this Crescent

Which the astrologers consult
I am omnipotent Sultan

O Zaprogian Cossacks

I am your dazzling Overlord

Become my faithful subjects
The Sultan wrote to them
They laughed at this bit of news
And wrote a response right away
By the light of a candle


Bigger crook than Barrabas
Horned like the rebel angels
What sort of Beelzebub are you
Reared on filth and muck
We won’t show up for your sabbaths

Rotten fish of Salonika
Long necklace of nightmares about
Eyes ripped out in a fit of spite
Your mother let a wet fart
And you were born in her colic

Butcher of Podolia Lover of
Sores and ulcers and scabs
Pig’s snout horse’s ass
Better hang onto your riches
To pay for your medication

Milky way o shining sister
Of Canaan’s white rivers
And lovers’ white bodies
We dead swimmers shall follow
Your course toward other nebulas

Remorseful as a whore’s eyes
And gorgeous as a panther
Love your Florentine kisses
Leave a bitter taste
Disheartening our fates

Her gaze leaves behind a train
Of stars through trembling evenings
Sirens swim in her eyes
And our furious bloody kisses
Make our fairy godmothers cry

But really I’m waiting for her
With my heart and my soul
And if that women ever returns
On the bridge of Come-Back-to-me
I’ll say to her I am content

My heart and my head are empty
All the heavens flow through them
Such sieves of the Danaïdes
How can one become happy
As a innocent little child

I wish to never forget her
My dove my white lagoon
My daisy stripped of petals
My far off isle my Désirade
My rose my tree of cloves

Satyrs and pyraustas
Aegipans and will-o-the-wisps
And cursed or faustly fates
A noose around the neck as at Calais
What a holocaust for my grief

Grief that doubles fates
Unicorn and capricorn
My soul and my indistinct body
Flee from you divine butcher
Adorned with stars and morning’s blossoms

Pale god Misery with ivory eyes
Have your crazy priests appareled you
Have your black robed victims
Wept in vain
Misery’s a god not to be trusted

And you who crawl behind me
God of my gods that died in autumn
How much earth have you surveyed
For my body’s rightful place
My shadow o my old serpent

I led you beloved remember
Into the sunlight you cherish
Shadowy wife I love
You are mine by being nothing
My shadow dressed in mourning for myself

Winter’s dead buried in snow
They’ve burnt the white hives
In the gardens in the vineyards
Birds on the boughs are singing
Bright springtime gentle April

Death of deathless argyraspids
The snow with silver shields
Flees the ashen dendrophori of
Springtime that poor folk cherish
Who smile again their eyes moist

And my heart is as heavy

As a Damascus lady’s ass
O love I loved you too much
And now I’m in too much pain
The seven swords are unsheathed

Seven swords of melancholy

And jagged edged o bright griefs
Enter my heart and insanity
Wishes to speak for my misery
Can you expect me to forget


The first is all of silver
Its quivering name is Paline
Its blade a snowy winter sky
Its fate bloody and ghibelline
Vulcan died forging it

The second named Humpback
Is a fair joyful rainbow
Wielded by gods at their weddings
It has slain thirty swashbucklers
And has powers bestowed by Carabosse

The third blue and womanish
Is nonetheless a Chipriape
That’s called Lul of Faltenin
And is borne upon a cloth
By Earnest Hermes who’s now a dwarf

The fourth Fortuna
Is a green golden river
In evening when riverwomen
Bathe their adorable bodies
And the rower’s songs linger

The fifth Saint Fibber
Is the fairest distaff
Is a cypress tree on a grave
Where the four winds kneel
Each night it becomes a torch

The sixth is glory’s metal
The friend with such tender hands
From whom each dawn parts us
Farewell your road lies yonder
Cocks wear themselves out with their fanfares

And the seventh’s languid
A woman a dead rose
I’m thankful the last has come
Close the door on my love
I never knew you

Milky way o shining sister
Of Canaan’s white rivers
And lovers’ white bodies
We dead swimmers shall follow
Your course toward other nebulas

The heavens proclaim in song

That the demons of chance lead us on

To lost tones their violins

Spur the human race to dance

Down its backwards descent

Fates inscrutable fates

Kings shaken by folly
And quavering stars
False women sharing your beds
In deserts crushed by history

The old prince regent Luitpold

Tutor of two mad rulers
Does he sob recalling them
While glowworms flicker
Midsummer Night’s gilded flies

Near a castle without a chatelaine

The bark with lilting barcaroles
Across a white lake through the breath

Of springtime’s trembling breezes
Went sailing a dying swan a siren

One day the king drowned himself

Open-mouthed in the silver water
And then returned floating
To sleep inert on the shore
Face turned toward the changing heavens

June your burning lyre

Scorches my aching fingers
Sad melodious rapture
I’m wandering toward fair Paris
Without the heart to die there

Sundays last forever there

And barrel organs
Sob in drab courtyards
Flowers on Paris balconies
Lean like the Tower of Pisa

Paris evenings high on gin

Ablaze with electricity
Trolleys their spines sparking green
Are playing along the track’s stave
Music of mechanical folly

Cafes swollen with smoke
Cry their gypsy love
From runny-nosed siphons
And waiters in loincloth aprons
Toward you I loved so deeply

I who know lays made for queens
The sad strains of my days
Hymns slaves sang to the moray
The ballad of the poorly-loved
And songs for the sirens

translated by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mirabeau Bridge

Under the Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine
And our love
        Must I recall
Joy always followed after pain

Let night come toll the hour
Days move on I remain

Hand in hand let’s linger face to face
While beneath
        The bridge of our embrace
The weary swell of timeless glances flows

Let night come toll the hour
Days move on I remain

Love moves on like that current
Love moves on
        How slow life seems
And Expectation how violent

Let night come toll the hour
Days move on I remain

Days pass on then the weeks pass on
Neither past times
        Nor loves shall come again
Under the Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine

Let night come toll the hour
Days move on I remain

translation by Jack Hayes
© 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010


In the end you’re weary of this ancient world

Shepherdess o Eiffel Tower the flock of bridges is bleating
        this morning

You’ve lived long enough amongst ancient Romans and Greeks

Here even the automobiles look obsolete
Religion alone remains brand new religion
Remains simple as the hangars at Port Aviation

In Europe only you Christianity aren’t antique
The most modern European is you Pope Pius X
And you whom windows watch shame restrains you
From walking into a church and making confession
You read handbills catalogs ads that sing out loud
Here’s poetry this morning and as for prose there’s the papers
There are dime novels full of detectives
Portraits of great men and thousands of other titles

I saw this morning a fine street whose name I’ve forgotten
Fresh and clean it was the sun’s clarion
Bosses workers and lovely secretaries
Monday morning to Saturday evening walk there four times a day
Three time there each morning the siren moans
A hot-tempered bell bays about noon
Lettering on billboards and walls
And door-plates and notices shriek like parrots
I love the charm of this factory street
Located in Paris between rue Aumont-Thiéville and the avenue
        des Ternes

There’s the young street and you still a little child
Your mother dresses you only in blue and white
You’re very pious and with your oldest pal René Dalize
You love nothing as much as church ceremonies
It’s nine o’clock the gas flickers blue you sneak out of the
You pray all night in the school chapel
While Christ’s flaming glory
Revolves forever divine and eternal an amethyst depth
It’s the lovely lily all of us raise
The redheaded torch the wind won’t blow out
Pale and vermillion son of the sorrowful mother

The tree always bushy with prayers
The double power of eternity and honor
The star with six branches

God who dies Friday and is resurrected Sunday
It’s Christ who lifts off better than aviators
He holds the world record for height

Christ pupil of the eye
Twentieth pupil of the centuries he knows what to do
And turns this century into a bird like Jesus ascending the
Devils in the abyss raise their heads to watch
They say It’s imitating Simon Magus
They say if it takes flight call it a fugitive
Angels flutter around the acrobat
Icarus Enoch Elijah Apollonius of Tyana
Hover around the first airplane
Now and then they scatter to let those bearing the Sacred
        Eucharist pass
Priests ascending eternally elevating the host
The plane lands at last without folding its wings
The sky’s filled then with swallows by the millions
In a flash crows falcons owls appear
Ibises storks and flamingos arrive from Africa
The Roc celebrated in story and song
Soars grasping the skull of Adam in its talons
The eagle swoops screeching over the horizon
From America comes the little hummingbird
From China come the pihi birds both long and supple
That have a single wing and fly coupled

And here’s the dove the holy spirit
Escorting the lyre bird and the ocellated peacock
The phoenix that self-creating pyre
For an instant veils everything with its ardent ash
The three sirens leaving their perilous perch
Come singing their lovely song
And all of them eagle phoenix and Chinese pihi
Fraternize with the flying machine

Right now you’re strolling alone through Paris amidst the
Herds of bellowing buses go rolling past
Love’s anguish has got you by the throat
As if you’ll never be loved again
In the old day you would have entered a monastery
You’re ashamed when you catch yourself saying a prayer
You make fun of yourself your laughter crackles like hellfire
Your laughter’s sparks gild the depths of your life

It’s a painting hung in a dim museum
And time to time you go there to see it up close

Today you’re walking through Paris the women are bloody
Something I’d rather not recall it was during the decline of

Surrounded by fervent flames Our Lady beheld me at Chartres
Blood of your Sacred Heart inundated me at Montmartre
I’m sick of hearing blessed words
The love I endure is like syphilis
And the image that possesses you keeps you alive through
        insomnia and anguish
Passing image always at your side

Right now you’re at the Mediterranean shore
Under lemon trees that stay in blossom all year
You go boating with your friends
One from Nice one from Menton and two from La Turbie
Fearful we observe the octopi of the deep
And through the seaweed swim fish the Savior’s image

You’re in a inn garden outside Prague
You’re completely happy a rose lies on the table
And rather than write your tale in prose
You observe the chafer asleep in the heart of the rose

Appalled you see yourself traced in St Vitus’ agates
You were downcast the day you saw yourself there
You looked like Lazarus bewildered by daylight
The hands of the Jewish quarter’s clock run backwards
And you step back slowly too in your life
Climbing to Hradchin and in the evening
Listening to Czech songs in the taverns

Here you are in Marseilles amongst watermelons

Here you are in Coblenz at the Hotel of the Giant

Here you are in Rome under a Japanese crabapple tree

Here you are in Amsterdam with a gal you find pretty who’s ugly
She’s engaged to a student from Leyden
They rent rooms there in Latin Cubicula locanda
I recall I spent three days there and three in Gouda

You’re in Paris arraigned by the magistrate
Under arrest like a common criminal

You undertook both sad and pleasant travels
Before you understood lies and age
You suffered from love at both twenty and thirty
I’ve lived like a fool and wasted my time
You don’t dare look at your hands at such moments I want to sob
Over you the one I love over everything you find horrible

You watch your eyes filled with tears these wretched emigrants
They believe in God they pray their women bear children
Their odor fills the lobby of Saint-Lazare station
They follow their star like the three wise men
They hope to find silver in Argentina
And return to their homeland having made a fortune
A family transports a red quilt as you transport your heart
That quilt and your dreams are both unreal
Some emigrants remain here and rent rooms
On Rue des Rosiers or rue des Écouffes in the slums
I’ve often seen them evenings they take the air
And like chessmen rarely ever move far
Mostly they’re Jews their wives wear wigs
And sit anemic in the back of shops

You’re standing at a crapulous bar
You get a coffee for two bits amongst the losers

It’s night you’re in a great restaurant

These women aren’t wicked of course they have their worries
All of them even the ugliest have made their lovers suffer

She’s the daughter of a constable from the Isle of Jersey

I haven’t seen her hands they’re rough and chapped

I feel enormous pity for the scars on her belly

Now I humble my mouth to a whore with a horrible laugh

You’re alone the day’s breaking
Milkmen are clinking their bottles through the streets

Night leaves like a dark-skinned beauty
Ferdine the false or else attentive Leah

And you’re drinking this burning liquor like your life
The life you drink like spirits

You’re walking toward Auteuil you’re going home on foot
To sleep amongst fetishes from Oceania and Guinea
Christs of other forms and other beliefs
Lesser Christs of dim hopes

Farewell farewell

Sun slit throat

Guillaume Apollinaire
translation © Jack Hayes 1990-2010