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Prayer of Private Kostrowitzky

death follows me sometimes and I tell her be patient I haven’t yet placed words under the pebbles I write “I’m alive” as I close my eyes death follows(...)

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death follows me sometimes and I tell her
be patient
I haven’t yet placed
words under the pebbles
I write “I’m alive”
as I close my eyes

death follows me sometimes and I tell her
be patient
every single morning I’m old
but in the evening I’m born anew
let me play a while
in the courtyard of long shadows

be patient wise death
listen to the sound
so thin of the ink soaking
into this page
and then sleep

unpublished

Swap mouths

Swap mouths: take mine. It’s a little tight, not keen on teeth, will accommodate different tongues, even the most anaemic ones but will not fray. Take(...)

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Swap mouths: take mine.
It’s a little tight,
not keen on teeth,
will accommodate
different tongues,
even the most anaemic ones
but will not fray.
Take mine, I say.
I’ve held it in too high regard,
have trailed it too far
amid other faces,
over lips less wise.
If by chance it isn’t the right font-size
shrink it in some iced water,
then kiss me.

Le Maintien du désordre, Caractères, 1990

Words

I don’t need words. They impose themselves on me, like those inopportune friends who squeak in their chairs and hang around for dinner, indifferent to your fasting. Bad company, they banter among them(...)

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I don’t need words. They impose themselves on me, like those inopportune friends who squeak in their chairs and hang around for dinner, indifferent to your fasting. Bad company, they banter among themselves for being as trivial as a gaze on a deep wound. The poem allows me to see them home occasionally with tender politeness, often with savage precision. One wave of the hand is enough to scatter them.

Translated from the French by Patricia Pruitt