mercredi 28 janvier 2009

Les Maudites (The Damned Women)

This is a second translation of my French poem, Les Maudites. I have decided again not to concerm myself with the exact end rhymes nor the rhyme scheme nor the eight-foot meter of the original, but to proceed even more loosely than i did with the first translation. This one, I think, is much more successful than the first.

cycle of hard nights
How I hate my ripened soul!
The sun is missed in winter
Emptying the severe trees and
Creating a double pain in my heart

You see a ghost watch over me
from September to mid-January
Calls never come from friends

Nor the steps of anyone
Nor my silent sister-soul

These gray skies doubled with clouds
Cannot penetrate our rages
Houses have to be heated
But a long cold remains in our thought
Awakening our most terrible fears

And so this somber poem
Again another winter without blame
I remain in prayer on bended knee
Awaiting the lover-murderer
Knocking at the door of pain

She cries out my name without stop
In the streets and in the forests
I search my bed for rest but
She seizes upon my instep
She becomes my accuser

"You never knew how to love me!
You left me! You went away!
In this filth you wallow!
You left me for another!
I will haunt you when the hour sounds!"

Each night she comes without a blow
And silently enters my canopy
She kisses me on the lips
After breaking all my dishes
At dawn she leaves like a thief

I can no longer breathe as
Over and over she breaks my heart
She rapes me in the dark
Like an old animal
She plays me like a pointsman (without direction)

At the end of winter she parts
With no sweet word of goodbye
My chills never stop
At midnight just I am there
Awaiting my belovèd ravisher

I swear! she does not come anymore
I have only this fresh sweat
I rolled the dice on silk and
Awaited the better part of me
If she does not come, I will die

Now it is I at the door
In the depths of dead winter
No one remains in that house
As I cry out with all my passion, then
at dawn dissipate in fury

Couverture, La Belle Edition illus. Edouard Chimot

mercredi 21 janvier 2009

Les Maudites (The Damned)

This is a first translation of my French poem, Les Maudites. I have decided not to worry about end rhymes and schemes, which are exact in the French original, or the eight-foot meter with which I so vehemently struggled. One day perhaps, I or someone else may attempt to transform the poem into English with its essential rhyme and meter; but for today, I hope I have captured some of the mood and subject matter. I simply want as many people who may be interested to be able to read it, for I am very happy with Les Maudites, although I confess I shall be working on it for a very long time to come with the help of my friend and French editor, Annie Griolet, à qui je dois un grand remerciement.

Another cycle of hard nights
How I hate my overripe soul!
Lack of the sun in winter
Makes empty the severe trees
And makes a double pain in the heart

You see that a ghost watches over me
From September to mid-January
The call of a friend does not sound
Nor arrive the steps of anyone
Of the silent sister-soul

These gray skies doubled with clouds
Cannot penetrate our rages
The houses must be heated
But a long cold remains in the thoughts
Awakened our worst fears

Thus here is this somber poem
But another winter without blame
One remains indoors in prayer
Awaits the lover murderer
Knocking at the door of pain

She cries my name without stop
In the streets and in the forest
I search my bed for some sleep
She seizes upon my instep
She becomes accuser

"You never knew to love me!
You left me to go away!
In this shit you wallow
And left me for another!
I will haunt you when sounds the hour!"

Each night she comes without blow
And enters my bed step of the wolf
She kisses me on the lips
After breaking all my porcelain
She leaves me at dawn, thief

I can no longer breathe in short
My heart she breaks once more
Without light she rapes me
Like an old animal
She plays me like a pointsman

At the end of winter she leaves
Without a word of adieu delicate
My chills do not stop
At midnight exact I am there
I await my precious ravisher

She comes no more, to you I swear
I have only my fresh sweats
I rolled the dice on silk
Awaiting the better of me
If she does not come, I will die

Now it is I at the door
In the depth of dead winter
No one is left inside
While I cry out with passion:
I dissipate at dawn in fury

mardi 13 janvier 2009

Les Maudites

un grand remerciement à Annie Griolet

Un autre cycle de nuits dures

Que je haisse mon âme mûre!
Manque de soleil en hiver
Fait vider les arbres sevères
Et fait un double peine au coeur

Tu vois qu'un fantôme me veille
De septembre à mi-janvier
L'appel d'une amie ne sonne
N'arrive des pas de personne
De la silencieuse âme-soeur

Ces cieux gris doublés de nuages
Ne peuvent pénétré nos rages
Les maisons doivent être chauffées
Mais un long froid reste aux pensées
Reveillé nos pires frayeurs

Donc voilà ce sombre poème
N'est qu'un autre hiver sans blême
On y reste à genoux en prière
Attend l'amante meutrière
Frappe à la porte de douleur

Elle crie mon nom sans arrêt
Dans les rues et dans la forêt
Je cherche à mon lit du sommeil
Elle saisit mon cou-de-pied
Elle devient accusateur

<Tu n'a jamais su m'aimer
Tu m'as quittée pour être allée

Dans cette merde tu te vautres
Et m'en laissée pour une autre
Je te hante quand sonne l'heure!>>

Chaque nuit elle vient sans coup
Et entre mon lit pas de loup
Elle m'embrasse sur les lèvres
Après briser tous mes sèvres
Elle me quitte à l'aube, voleur

Je ne peux plus réspirer bref
Mon coeur elle brise derechef
Sans lumière elle me viole
Comme une vieille béstiole
Elle me joue comme aiguilleur

Au bout de l'hiver elle s'en va
Sans un mot d'adieu délicat
Mes frissons ne s'arretent pas
A minuit juste je suis là
Attend ma chère ravisseur

Elle ne vient plus je vous jure
Moi je n'ai que mes fraiches sueurs
J'ai roulé les dès sur la soie
Attend la meilleure de moi
Si elle ne vient pas, je meurs

Maintenant c'est moi à la porte
A profondeur de l'hiver mort
Personne ne reste en dedans
Pendant que je crie d'élan:
Je me dissipe à l'aube en fureur

Tableau: Femme accroupie, Eugène Delacroix

lundi 12 janvier 2009

la voilà et encore

she's back again, my nemesis

mother earth with all her charms
and accoutrements
and those wide charismatic arms
that sweep up the humble of heart
and their faulty clockworks
some talk too much and others
not enough, some make themselves
naked as infants and others
dress up fine in moroccan rags
that sashay in the wind and flirt

i'm not ready for yet another
mother or sister to feel me out
and then put me on the side like a
sieve for her tears, i'm crying all
the time for what i've lost and
can't get undone by another femme fatale
can't fall in love with another mirror
i can't let me myself be swept up
in her winning waveforms and thrills
and then engulfed and killed

i'm swimming for my life
and i haven't the force
to forgive before the fact
another crime and rejection
the idéale of my thought
the mother of my perfection

samedi 10 janvier 2009

In a Flash

for Jim

My good friend had a heart attack
and I can't imagine what it was like
to find the cold hard floor at his back
while his heart was painfully contracting

He says that everywhere he was
brought, everyone was screaming
"Wake up!" and the stress was so intense
he thought, Can't I just die in peace?

He was brought back several times
and now sits and wonders about
what happened, how much damage
there was and what his life will hold

Changes are not easy for human beings
You just seem to get a grip and then
it's taken away, and you're left to access
where it went and what is left

It's a cold morning outside, he says
as he sips his decaf coffee and browses
through his letters, and he asks me
what's on today's agenda

I type, Same thing as yesterday, bud
There's nothing new under the sun
on this end, and he says, It's all new here
but I don't know what to do with it

mercredi 7 janvier 2009

What Is Wrong with this Picture?

An Essay on the U.S. Role in the Current Israeli Campaign
against Hamas

(a rare political essay on my poetry blog)

Some of you you may remember me talking about the sale of so-called 'smart' weapons from the U.S. to Israel a month or so ago; I sent out several emails about it. I and most other conspiracists were certain that they were purchased to bomb the nuclear installations of Iran before the end of the Bush administration. Little could I know then that such massive weaponry would be used against the Gaza Strip and its inhabitants in the name of eradicating Hamas. Gaza is a tiny, massively overpopulated place, much of which looked like rubble long before the current air strikes; since everyone is generally living shoulder to shoulder, there is no way that 100s, perhaps 1000s in the end, of civilians would not die, given the current strategy, 'smart' bombs or no 'smart' bombs. Just the sheer number of them.

No one can convince me now that U.S. intelligence wasn't in on the planning of this military action in Gaza, from pre-sale to attack. Our senators, representatives and the big guns of the Bush administration all knew this was coming, and that must, by definition, include President-elect Barack Obama. If you consider the coming inauguration, the 'out with the old, in with the new' mentality that is being celebrated, the timing for this engagement could not be more perfect because Obama has the exact excuse he needs not to touch this hot potato: he is not yet president and there can only be but one president at a time. Fabulous, dahlingk, you are off the hook! You can ride into town later looking like the original White Knight, with your fingers crossed behind your back and all your Clinton advisors speaking in tongues!

Yet, when this comes, we should think back to Obama's big trip to the middle east in July when he spent about one hour with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, then visited the southern city of Sdrot where kasam rockets have fallen and continue to fall during this engagement. Obama stood, just like Hillary Clinton stood before him, with his back to the separation wall and his arm around our 'bestest friend' in the whole wide world, Israel, the one that offers us in return the love and admiration of the rest of the west and middle east. "The way you know where somebody's going is where have they been," he said in Sdrot. "And I've been with Israel for many, many years now." I thought at the time that at least he breached the wall, whereas during Hillary's visit she refused to cross over into that living hell. It's easier to ignore a thing and hate it if you can't see it.

So magnaminous, so good the Zionist heart! Regarding the settlements which have arisen like mushrooms in a forest and flourished during the last eight years, no one can say there is any interest in Jerusalem's tourist business, which existed before as the life blood of the Palestinian Jerusalemites for the entire last century. There have been many land and hotel deals between rich Israelis and government officials. This may seem like a small point, but is it? What's the big deal about Jerusalem to the Palestinians anyway? More and more sequestered to smaller and smaller areas, left without services for which they are taxed, and those outside the city barred from entering it on holy days, they should simply give it up, lay down and accept the will of Israel (and the Christian west for that matter)!

"Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided!" Obama sternly uttered during the AIPAC conference on the anniversary of the June 5, 1967 war and Israel's occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Now I can say, thank you, Mr. President-elect, for that fast-forward look into the future of the American stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I'm glad you spoke to AIPAC. Too bad I didn't take you seriously and chose instead to look back at your days of youthful bluster when you would show up at Palestinian events in Chicago and speak to their cause. Oh but I'm beginning to hate myself for my blind optimism on your foreign policy. But I knew that it was doomed when you put Hillary in charge of it. (Didn't everyone?)

I am declaring that the U.S. Congress sold the weapons to make this engagement happen. So much for our stated mission in the middle east, to make people free; so much for democracy and democratic elections, at least in Gaza, where everyone who knows anything about elections said that it was the most democratic election the middle east has ever experienced. No, what matters is that Hamas won and Hamas is listed as a "terrorist organization".

Moreover, Europe really has no right to stand on its pacifistic pedestal at this point and rail against the bombing; they joined the blockade from the beginning, just as they did the Iraq sanctions, helping the U.S. to set up the scenario for the invasion to come. Shame on all of us!

No, this whole thing was set up long ago, before the so-called ceasefire began and ended in which none of Israel's promises were kept and the people were locked in their pen and left to offer peace signs to their occupiers of 60 years, with cries of "We love to be hungry! We love to be idle! We love to have no life, no hope. We love to give up our farms and homes! Please take more! Take it all!" No, the disengagement from Gaza and the building of the separation wall was a grand experiment gone terribly wrong, then bombed.

As the U.N. envoy on the ground in Gaza describes the scene today, "It is hell". Do we need to know more? YOU BETCHA! How did this happen? Who planned it? When was it planned? Who knew the plan in advance? These are my questions tonight as I write. I want to know who the criminals are in this country who plotted this action with the Israeli government and army over many months. We can deal with the Israelis later.

Tonight over 600 people's lives have been snuffed out in ten days. Tonight I call for a revolution of thought, as some people did on 9-11. Why are kasam rockets falling on southern Israel? When and how were those settlements built? What should Palestinians do after 60 years of occupation? Is it true that if there were no resistance, no kasam rockets, there would be a win-win situation for both sides in this conflict? I doubt it; and why? Because Israel has not given one inch on the policy that Ariel Sharon articulated long ago, that he could live with a Palestinian state with much reduced population living on Israel's border as long as it was controllable. Then ask yourself how Israel reduces the population.

Jan 8-- I saw an excellent report with Phyllis Bennis, director of The New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of many books including Understand the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer. It does echo many of the points in this essay.

Israeli Jets Drop 'Small Smart Bomb' in Gaza Strikes

Paper: Gaza Campaign Planned Months in Advance