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