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<TN>Nagy, Jeff^Turner, Lindsay</TN>
for Jean Tortel
that "petal" should be masculine, I just can't get used
to it ...
                             --Jean Tortel, Ratures des jours
double invertible counterpoint
isn't reversible counterpoint
reflexively your cough
improves you shitty bird
look how it flies off
something made of raw
meat wrapped up in feathers
there was someone
underneath it (me)
bared shoulder bird-shat
you were reading Khlebnikov
in the sun between lawn
and clouds all fields
of wild garlic (buttercups)
one eye alit on the page
where nothing not one shriek
or neigh is done in for
peony foreskin
Rimbaudian miction
who these days worries over
an episodically rural
shoulder (not necessarily
bare) sun the air stirs
impossible to predict
the invisible droppings their
song with an omnivorous lilt
smudged old skin
white threads green
in the Kleenex that wipes it
dandelions snort at your feet
pure yellow like before
a pitiful experience
bucolyric in nature that % added
pertinent modular citations
between azure and miniscule shit
a delicate screen print
you oughtn't to (at your age)
show yourself off like that
(even out of sight)
like going out all night
light in the bars
drinks too hard
for a woman
so small and alone
in her room she
says she's afraid
all this silence
didn't come to complain
about bad hookups
other perils
otherwise perilous
than the bird (its droppings)
to sur-survive sure
before the afterwards
and your cough that tobacco
but you how are you managing
writing and making money
writing for peanuts
paid in buckshot
lost and found
retrograde Mercury
with a hint of bestiality
give-or-take an
(overstressed I admit it)
perversion's their specialty
this however tacit daily menu
is my responsibility my damnable
mistake takes half a century
to erase its shame
fake twitch in the wings
carried on the wind rubbish
a know-knowing-knowledge
singular seed
like the stye cured
by the golden band
one day open isn't
working night falls
hush we're dead
and hey! we're up
all the gildings
have fermented
the invalid drowses
anticipation of coitus
everything's all chewed up oh! no
he curdles the milk in his saucer
since the sun turns
let your old happening begin again
bleeding impossibly forever after
I-us three in Venice
in steam the morning (the vaporetto's
returns to everyone their own heresy
placebo perfusion might as well purge yourself
bound to all living things by an ancient chain
sister-brother two damaged
intra-uterine disharmony
side by side a single pocket
separate two sardines
jockeying for liquid space
placenta cake today
a spit of land between
the Rhone and Durance
double-yolked eggs lay
an eviler omen than unfertilized ones
treasure or discharge
our hermetic destiny
split up teeming under smoke
feminine the mother fertilized
three times carrying to term
only the first litter hey!
what! barnyard or illicit
maneuvers womanly bleeding
under laminary sticks
moaning park
tomorrow summer will snuff itself
out in a village dance
the fabric of her dress
was yes microfilm
until that night when she
spoke to me (I hear her voice)
two years after her death
posthumous stage direction
biscuit made of air her voice
tortures me its music
like a word because a
word tortures me
reality on layaway
as a kind of retort
one slice from a red tart
it's fine it's fine
well shut up eventually
everything slows down Kleenex bird
clouds buttercups
broken scene
fire on the clocks
like in 1930
of course I'd do it
but no return
to a historical golden age
a pulled brake evades
the juddering immobility
that we call catastrophe
a trick of the light
and the patterns it makes
cold work paid to antifreeze
we favor sometimes
the unconscious optic
that leisurely digests
all the outmoded tactics
an effect of ultrathin film
swiped over the tummy
of a laid off baby-me
the poem without epithet
lodged in its structure
that's what's worrisome
sudden invitation
to share a horchata this one
has almonds in its name
but it isn't Russian
agitating field the poem
cuts out an internal history
Mandelstam the Armenian
twinned nut at the heart of the poem
admiring the sky in a puddle
is not a new practice
but still reassuring We--are
alive We--remember
the thing that we call
cowardice--anguish in the heart
that sees all the forces laid out
to annihilate you that impulse
toward the sun and the stars
as if to grab hold of a memory
as it arrives in a moment of crisis
for example this nighttime landscape
when the moon rises over it like
the one at 9:08 the 13th of July
a radiance which is its
coffin Don't expect me this evening
for the night will be black and white
a frantic approach this
reduction in exposure time
the more there's objective certainty
the less there's interiority
come by tomorrow I'll cook
some polenta the maize grain
beloved of indigenous souls
Montezuma changed his clothes
four times a day putting on
four different outfits
each completely new never again
worn dead silence the trees'
putrefaction if the past's weight
is well worth the volume supposed to
hold the future I'll yet travel abroad
replaying isn't performing
Dada's anti-artistic but terribly
cultivated how could anyone penetrate it
the poem isn't a body
barely a room
this morning a postcard from Rome
it wasn't nanni B but Catherine W
nanni will call three days
later from Paris this time
did you know that when Brecht and Benjamin
met in Le Lavandou in 1931
they talked about Kafka
you who go swimming in Lecques
and send me texts
that never arrive
remember Lucrece
by Vulcan's cock
remember Lucrece
you can never wipe off the traces
of a traced woman to arrange on a map
the space of a life--rooms crossed
notebooks filled up but catacombs too
you have to break down the old dead
to make room for new arrivals
internal memory is the living
memory that's the one that beats
in the true heart of books
so many years wanting
to write a true book
as alive as these acacia
flowers that fall in clusters
their unpronounceable scent
the book you can smell it
it's something else entirely
something to see
between white lies
and blancmange
the present is a false present
scraps of the past rerun on end
a black market traffic
past-future not any more there
than here rewound baffled
the thing that dams the future
all these simulacra
photogenic drawings
a string of rehabilitated monkeys
among which you can make out
only two albinos
the flowers you can cook them
in fritters not books
same for apples or grapes
red and green grapes Seraphine's
Seraphine Louis de Senlis
admirable old bat
peerless painter who managed
to astonish even the great Picasso
but let's get back to Lucrece
not the one raped by Tarquin's son
but the other (Titus Lucretius Carus)
and in so doing deploying logic
(a little logical spirit) will suffice
that unheralded prophecy
from book VI the one where the scourge
of plague blows destruction and death
on men and livestock
unceasingly repeated today
this cruelty at the heart of the species
I knew a travesti
who was in his practice
much more radical
than your artist colleagues
the ones who devote all their energy
to the syntactic rhythmic
engendering of a new language
while on the other hand research
into the processes of production
was the major preoccupation
one part of the world passed away
coldly exploited by the other
this had to do with the right
to change a diphthong
into two vowels or processes
up to and including pinching the flesh of each
when each is one then two
and often one in each
that leads to as much subjection
as soups dumped out
scorching the backs of mouths
philosophy's progressive penetration
when the obscene becomes a bad omen
cartography on flat-screen
the rabid pig-idiocy
database processing
pepped up with filth
though legibly displayed
flattening of surveillance
biometrics trackability
everyone watching every
one else my God
it's a wonderful world!
me sick? I'd invent
the sky's delicate shadows for it
arrange dinner parties
orgies for dessert
women forbidden to fist-fuck
all the Asters are Althusserians
(it's tricky to make a fist)
since just like in the theater
the betrayer is more in the right
than the one who stays loyal
the betrayed knows much
more than the one who isn't betrayed
the spectator is not a horizon
but more like a destiny every stage
a laboratory of violence
this poem for example written
from day to day a nondisposition
of proletarian time when
the present crosses a false present
series of momentary fictions
here or there the body laid out
in a still life like
the body of an extra
I am an intermittent poet
and doubtless untimely
claimed by no one
I wipe my glass dry after drinking
in another life I'd be a barmaid
swear it's a promise I'd double
your shots of Jack Daniel's
and we'd smoke Craven "A"s
with our publisher dear
and for you it'd be your beloved vodka
I'd order by the case from Moscow
yesterday the fresh mint leaves
in the rum on the rocks lent
the provincial night a Cuban air
drinking I thought of the clinamen
declension of atoms tacked on to the tragic
character of Lucretius who according to Saint Jerome
killed himself in his fortieth year
simple mystery of a secret life
Lucretius disciple or simple vector
translator and consummator of Epicurus
spit on morality when
it engenders no pleasure
in six cantos the distant rival of Empedocles
describing bodies and the void as things
the void first condition and movement
while the wind that blind body
still today blows through and shakes
the acacia I write under
all the space under it it falls
on the meadow at every moment in every place
every sort of image is at our disposal
if I close my eyes the world stops
lines of the poem like the delicate lattice
of foliage that mistakes line up
proves all these manuscripts descend
from a single archetype xxx
 denotes a lacuna
*** a corrupted passage the archaisms as
the deviant orthographies have been preserved
the punctuation in the Latin text obeys
modern convention you too one day
or another you'll want to shuffle off undone
by a fistful of dismal star charts
only the sun gets up to cross the street
paying no mind to the general racket
the gulls make did you know Giono
to translate Melville dressed up as a sailor
now in the Lacoste cafe they serve you
an abysmal pistou
 I wanted to leave
for Berlin wound up in Cavaillon
Sebastian there told me a story
of mistranslation that actually turned
on a kind of bowdlerization Caesar wouldn't've said
"even you, my son" but "you too, you son of a bitch"
when you live in Marseille you're in a better position
to get the mistake as you do Brutus's real function
et tu
 I'd say just as much to a guy from round here
& meantime I'll save him a pup from my bitch
"for a bazaar, it's a bazaar" that's a quote
like "it's to die for" all told the more
things change I'll run back to cliche when
I won't have anything else to say on the subject
Albumblatt or page from an album
is a little instrumental piece dedicated to a friend
or a master it isn't specified
if he should be living or dead
Jean Tortel is alive
he lives in his books
his books are his seed
poetry with every step it takes it
sheds a skin its base disciples don
as they crawl along in its wake
everything I say will be true in the other world

Further translations of Giraudon's poems by Jeff Nagy and Lindsay Turner will be published online at, along with an introductory essay by Amadine Andre.-ED.
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Author:Giraudon, Liliane
Publication:Chicago Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jun 22, 2018
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