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Franck André Jamme
translation by Norma Cole

 

From To the Secret

21

the apparitions

for example
a wasteland without aim
empty
silent

the improbable
diversions

sometimes

the obligation
not to speak
without protecting
a bent finger

 

22

the feeling
that something unknown
does not stop coming and going
in your nerves

grace

that will do the rest

the spirit

invited unexpected to slip
under the skin of a thought
with this promise

of bringing steadily
what it needs to breathe

 

23

the tiring peregrinations
in the galleries
of illusion

words
formulated in fact
for other words

that could
who knows
explode everything

breathing
fascinated
by torture

 

24

longing
to caress you
always

leaden balls
of regret
waltzing in the eye
of the condemned

the observation
that to the avant-garde
of our eye
stalk phenomena
of heavy war

critical

 

25

profound taste
for hanging out with the tree
while bidding
and rebidding

long life

long life

the gift of words

the episode
where a command
goes in
at the ear
that will soon pass
into the whole body
like water follows
any slope

with the intention of interfering

surely

 

26

the habit
of throwing a liquid knife
into the abyss
before jumping in
oneself

details

that can’t
condemn
forever

sibylline
recreations

 

27

open houses

beckoning the traps

in fact I don’t know

the errors
of derision

the lucidity

that sometimes shoves the door open
so brutally
that the soul dares not
even lend it its cloak

 

28

our share

dwelling without windows

she that says

it’s not that I so much
need
instruction

what I would like more
is a guide

sometimes

the moment
it gets late

and the source has not arrived yet
at its destination

far from there

and I’m deep down much more thirsty
than I ever thought

 

29

pure obsession
of description

such white

intensity

of which one knows
almost nothing

streaming entrance
in the dry grotto
of enigma

 

30

silence

the eye of the ritual

the real

the principle

that at first hides
then drops down suddenly
on us

nests
of dust
in the heart

 

31

model monkeys

who make their escape
the moment they utter
the first perfect phrase

the little wheel
starts turning backwards
to shout no

nothing really starts
again

and the instant
always answering back

already far away

I haven’t seen a thing

 

Franck André Jamme has published fifteen books of poems and fragments since 1981, as well as numerous illustrated books, and has been translated by John Ashbery. Jamme has published numerous works in the United States, including Moon Wood (Selavy Press, 2000), Extracts from the Life of a Beetle (Black Square, 2000), The Recitation of Forgetting (Black Square, 2003), Another Silent Attack (Black Square/Brooklyn Rail, 2006), and New Exercises (Wave Books, 2008). He is one of the authors of The Yale Book of French Poetry, 2004. For his life work, he received in 2005 the Grand Prix de Poésie de la Société des Gens de Lettres. He lives in Paris and Burgundy.

Norma Cole is a poet, painter, and translator. Cole’s various books of poetry include Natural Light (2009), Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 (2009), Spinoza in Her Youth (2002), The Vulgar Tongue (2000), Desire & Its Double (1998) and Contrafact (1996). Her translation works include Danielle Collobert’s Journals (1989), Anne Portugal’s Nude (2001), and Fouad Gabriel Naffah’s The Spirit God and the Properities Of Nitrogen (2004). She has also edited and translated Crosscut Universe: Writing on Writing from France (2000), an anthology of poetry and poetics by contemporary French writers. Cole was born in Toronto, Canada and has lived in San Francisco since 1977. She teaches at the University of San Francisco.

 

 

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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014