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Extract off DEATH IS NEVER LIKE Claude Ber Translation Anne Talvaz


What sometimes remains I call a poem
as each time a poem is only
what remains once
or nothing remains
what memory remains in the body and what words remain to say once the racing words which listen to themselves are silenced
– by default maybe but it is the word that remains – like
from here where I write without knowing what will remain or even if it will remain
for instance once deserted and unpeopled
– at last – the name
what remains is only
what remains after subtraction
– when to write is to subtract and in that withdrawal grasp –
it may sometimes
what remains of poetry
As to what remains of a poem or whether anything remains at all, I sometimes feel concerned, as though my death were spoken although I know both speech and my death are indifferent. I feel concerned in spasms of body and consciousness, but otherwise never. Otherwise anger sweeps me as though I were under threat from the asphyxia generated by systems with their orthodoxies and anathemas. Unfair as this may be, who cares. I have preferred mystics to the devout and silence to dogma. Thus I speak few words and cross them out immediately until nothing is left or next to nothing. The laceration of much that I would say and the pain are what remains of my past with philosophy. Some fragments of Wittgenstein’s notebooks and Spinoza’s definition of good as an increase in being and evil as a decrease in being,
is what remains
with a poem
with a poem especially
like a highly difficult highly cautious attempt at reconciliation

as I so fear what is said of and what is said about
like an attempt at speech
which ceases to
and the cessation
what remains once the tyranny of speech is over
is what I call a poem

Anyhow, what remains I can hear, those who remain
listen to your death in words
which removes speech from speech
and what remains when you are among those who remain and yourself what remains
is such nothingness of speech
lack of language in the absence that language already is
hole within a hole
the words which speak the emptiness and lack fill it
shovelfuls of earth fill a grave
and the remaining words fill my mouth
earth fills yours

What remains of you
for instance your feet so stiff
we couldn’t slip on your shoes
I remember those ill-fitting shoes
and it worries me
that I couldn’t straighten your ill-fitting shoes
you needed to walk
you were walking
yet your arms and hands were warm and soft
two days later even
and I arranged them
you wanted
such is my memory
of which nothing will remain

What remains may be too much
too silent and too prolix for a mouth
what remains is not silent it’s mute
and the sky travels the sky

What remains of the dead
is also the cleaning-up of the dead
after father’s lonely death I cleaned up
clothes linen crockery papers things
sort toss out take tidy away
the cleaning-up of death I then did for more distant relatives: the same with the linen, clothes, furniture and even for a very old dead lady who had died unexpectedly of a heart attack in mid-July and was removed by the fire brigade two days later, cleaning up the first maggots: fat white maggots scurrying on the tiles where the body had been
the same linen, crockery, furniture, papers
now the cleaning-up of you
so unthinkable
and the same for what remained of you and of all your, our...
linen clothes papers books
a whole year it took
the cleaning-up of your death
emptying bag after bag
myself emptied also
bag after bag
and now that we should sell the house where the remains of the dead were left and I’m emptying everything it’s
having to do the cleaning-up after my own death

Poems also
remain of you
and I believe triumphant: once the cleaning-up of the dead is over, poems are what remain for those who remain
and I sort fragments and debris of poems in old wrinkled folders, yours, mine
I reread crossed-out phrases, still legible
– this is to erase, truly erase all traces and so that nothing remains you and I both overwrite them with a thick black line and it’s also so that nothing remains that I write directly on the computer as much as possible, no more crossings-out, no traces, nothing, death smooth, the illusion of eternity intact
ultimately, nothing –
But what remains, these unfulfilled scraps of text and even those that are fulfilled, these remains I gather it’s
collecting mortal remains
and what might have been emotional, the traces of what we are, or celebratory, the traces of the remains on birthday tables or in the sheets of intimate celebration, all of this sinks with the rest
and what remains is death

In what remains, I hear those who remain
and I remain with the inventory of what remains of you of us, memory a prolific game-bag though filled with dead birds
so much remains remains remains that
I wish I could say all that remains out of my mouth armfuls of ribbons doves hares embers scarves
in unimaginable quantities
unbelievable what remains of a life
the hugeness in memory
I wish I could say
all the hugeness subtracted
I must say all this actually no
words are made obscene by death
what remains belongs to me who half belong to death
and what remains of my life at this point is your death

I hear those who remain
to whom I belong
nevertheless you are the one who remains on this date when you end your life and remain for good
whereas I go on advancing towards death and that the unknown distance between your death and mine remains to be crossed
and your death has me living backwards joining you while you remain where I started from
and I walk backwards towards death
and what is left to me of life is caught between two deaths

I hear those who remain
and I hear nothing more

What remains of you
I cannot imagine
cannot imagine your face, your eyes, your mouth without their flesh or your rotting flesh or your eyes – your eyes with their extreme and inexhaustible gaze – their pupils burst by fermentation gases
I know, can see even
but I cannot hear
I cannot hear the words
they sound blank
I cannot understand them
they are written words yet impossible speech

I hear those who remain in what remains and in this ploughing of lines which turn over my words I hear suddenly
or I read remains and the word goes missing
only sound remains and I hear renames or ream hay nuts or
how far
language unravels
I no longer understand what I’m saying the way it’s hard for me to say “you are no longer”
for hours on end
and the murmur under the words which crumbles them is also your death

But for you
since lonelier in death than I here with not even as I tears and mourning
with nothing whatsoever
or then where and in what company you?
that rainy spring day on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne with the pigeons the purple clover blossoms do you remember the dieresis on the Bienvenüe in Montparnasse which for us isolated the whole word
welcoming us
and my four-leaved clovers you called rabbit feed
the clovers in their tape envelopes I give them to you just in case remained currency of our soul
the small change of a happiness slips through my fingers a happiness which
for you
for which nothing remains in death
and not even the knowing and feeling of death
or else but the else is too immoderate for the fabric of a soul worn by hurt
for you since devoid of eyes which offer what my eyes see in the drizzle which is washing the horizon the house above the harbour such as the one we would have lived in
a lover’s word or gesture
the way we would have gazed together at the periwinkle sky of the south on the grey sea
and would have found them beautiful in their present state
without expecting more
and the cool air which causes shoulder slightly to shiver
in the scent of eucalyptus and iodine
there is no proof
but skin requires none
neither do the clouds in the yellow dawn
of the separate sea
remains only a line at the sky’s curved end
from you to me
a line about to sink 


Thus fragments
remain of
my speech – or the poem – similarly
tensed by double tenses of past and future
removed from the present
as I am removed, twice removed
standing by the gaping mouths of the sex and the grave

thus moments of belief at the edge of certainty
in the painful intimidation of thought
of speech making sin of thought
I say within headstrong remorseless
Gedanken ist frei Gedanken ist frei
Gedanken ist frei
a mantra so that my thinking is never
flushed out my thinking
I thought
removed, twice removed so that my thinking cannot be prevented

so as reassurance in the hysterical levelling of thought
talking silent talking silence thinking silence
not trying any moves
anyway removed, twice removed
no cutlass to cut slice divide
– barely soil of chipped lips –
I who am anyway removed, twice removed
and let what is multiply in the indivision of thought
I removed several times removed so many times subtracted
from myself from so much subtracted
I speak without because no
over there where nothing that nothing still too much
like obstinate singing in an absent voice
of words reduced to the order of silence
linking them linking us
in the stammering


The tiny, the minuscule indecision of existence. Fearful of the spectacle of its destruction. Within the mute arch of the vanished beloved, an absent stone. And a magnolia tree. The reverse of mutism. In its murmur or loquacity. Identically offside and offcheek. In the overstepping of the mouth. Like a tilt from the edges. The curvature of an inadmissible space. A trapdoor in the forehead. From which stories emerge of village idiots and sparrows. The Socratic horsefly of Athens. Vigilance. A buffoonish end-of-millennium bric-à-brac. Like the sweating of snails within the wires of a rusty salad shaker, the juice of language.


The smell of scent and sweat. Whispered words. The density of time. Then its simplicity. The caterpillar escalator deep under the station concourse. Ceremonious and slow, it carries the cavalcade of hurried travellers with the emphasis of a procession. Slow motion fixes them, softened and blurred, on the metal-plate walls. A distant fresco pausing to a halt now and then. In stretches of sparkling, vacuous stretches of steel. The obviousness in disappearance. The absence of drama and pain. A cinematographic glide over the motionless screen of time. Sandwiched between the frenzied stamping above and below. In contemplative retreat. Weightlessness. The fascination of angels and airships. The luxury of ascending to no purpose. No sky, no fall. The metaphysical innocence of the escalator.


I run my hand over your photograph
my hand – more like a paw – over your face
over your photograph
animal paw my hand on your photograph
not only caused by the pack of love creatures convened to the lovers’ bestiary – all meine teddy Bär frischling coney-cooky loveliebe –
caused by the gesture
my gesture as I run my hand over the photograph of your face
as clumsy
as primitive
as animal
resurgent at the end of forgotten gestures
that other one who has me running my hand over my skull from back to front
mein Hand über mein Kopf wie in Berlin wenn...
my hand over my head
as I saw monkeys do it
as I saw that Amazonian woman do it before her dead child
as it’s not done but done in the privacy of pain such (as)
that of love
running my hand over your face
running my hand over my skull
primitively ritually my hand


Fine rain drizzles on to the palm trees and stone pines. Their branches shiver like perching birds. The trickle of water down the trunks. With its prickly waterfall look and sound. A beak against the bark. Or the clacking of mandibles connected to an amplifier. Micro-macro criss-crossed. Confused, even. The cosmos captured in the tin I open by pulling its ring. The same ring on my finger. The ring on the capsized keel. The rainbow a new wedding ring. In the hurried pattering of the rain. In a hurry to sink into the soil. What rain for the laterite of the mind and the desiccation of the heart? I drink the dregs of the future from a bottle. A gulp of plastic-flavoured sparkling water. And I look into the distance from a motorway services area. From the viewpoint of the stripped. A grey stretch of rainy sky, a grey stretch of tarmac. At their juncture, a tiny frieze of bonsai trees welds them like zinc.


Beneath my shoes a flock of flakes. It’s the shadow of a flock of spotted clouds on the move, step by step. I am walking to the mountain pasture. To the pasture grass. To the edelweiss. In the damp of a threatened storm under the larches. The cutting of the wind on the cheek carries away years exhumed from their prehistory by the hooves and horns of he-goats. Air suspended from the soft palate. The sheep-clouds at my feet. Plump and curly. Dancing, dancing clouds.


I learned to become used to madness like
the maddening quality of madness like
becoming used to death like
learning to become used to that which made up my daily life like
it was the daily life of life and which indeed is daily life

with to continue the tearing of words the resorting to like
like catgut to the slash like
a jointed patella hangs from a leg eaten by piranhas like
a way of joining the severed lobes of a brain to the staple of an image or like
a needle to stitch up the pleura of an autopsied tongue or like
a fragment of fossil vertebra from which the original body is deduced like
it was done by magic like
there only remained like
to link speech grain by grain like
in the kabala’s tzeruf each word with all like
in all ways – including miserably – averting destiny in a dangerous life like
in a dangerous job like
that of a pilot looping loops under the guidance of flying chips of words like
a truck towing the wreck of an aeroplane body with a cable like
me spewing drivel on which are grafted the organs of letters and planes or like
Scheherazade telling a vital tale like
returning unliveability to the ordinary liveability of days like
the page to the poem’s metre

and thousands of times from worst to best, from worn-out to find, with all my resources I imagined invented scattered debaucheries of images spent only to survive and flung from my mouth like
casting a line like
a falcon released towards the wound of madness like
a lure, like
grabbing a rope to haul you back to reality like
hailing you, haling you to the smallest clot of reality like
hoisting you with anything that can be imagined out of your imaginary hell with like
like a dismembered tongue reduced to the cartilage of a wordless in-between-tongue like
a legless runner’s footrest like
the ultimate means of escape or suicide to say like
living only with like
a worn-out tongue and life where only semblances remain like
survivors of all so to speak like
such destitution in such disproportion to nothing it calls up the dimension of death

which never compares to nothing – except by trickery – which never – except by trickery – comes first like
what is death like? What is like
death? You who now know, tell me what here is like
death? Give me like
a sling like
a hook to join you over there of which nothing can be pronounced like
madness but worse than madness which still clings like
harpooned by like
like a sky crashing in reverse into the sky’s heights like
what’s over there? Of which cannot be said that it is like
a typhoon or like
the hypnotic evisceration of a maelstrom in which there is no like
to secure a filament of a tongue to its hook like
a single word establishing final reign over speech

the crane the rope the pulley the hoist like
the ultimate hook emptying the totality of a tongue like
a stomach of its bowels with not even a like
to say like
one can still, in a way, speak of madness like
meat engulfed drop by drop – its cuts bleeding from the cleaver – or like a venal offer of vertigo – with the gesture of a passer-by spitting into the hand of a reeling begging druggie – or like, its back turned, the reverse prophecy of the flood – with the memories to come of its biblical vessel rolling on high seas in its bed of waves of vengeance scented with iodine, sulphur and wreckage – or like a pathway lost in the unheard-of incarnation – with the span of a charred horizon opening eyes to its immoderation – or like the fall of all into the void of nothingness – within the surplice of a wrung-out rag an orouboros twisted into a Möbius strip – or like or like or even like and then like until the extinction of tongue and brain like verbal bankruptcy a final crash of language in the financial agitation of syllables like
using an image like a lifesaver a semblance of humanity filling the stripped silence of no word possible for evermore

at such times, life is like
but death itself is never like


With the sweater I fold up an absent body. A body clothed in absence. Virtually possible. In the intimacy of her scent between the stitches. A presence knitted with my hands, which mindlessly tug off the pills on the worn elbows and wrists. With my fingertips I pick at disappearance.


Train disgusting the bog stinks clogged with turds stained with piss and graffiti
and a ten-year-old squats bangs with his fist yells ohfuckohfuckohfuck
in the compartment the same stink of urine and shoes around two old women huddled in a corner and the smell of pâté mixed with sweat
the kid says fuckthatstinksfuckthatstinksfuckthatstinks
and his mother
– That’s pâté love, people are eating.
– Fuckthatstinksfuckthatstinks
– Come on love, we can go elsewhere
– Fuckyeahthatstinksyeahfuckthatstinks
the fat Brit eats her pâté sandwich and reads her best-seller international
the seats in the compartment are slashed
outside cerulean sky knife-painted
and identically so the sea
the child:
– Fuckthatstinksfuckthatstinks
a man into his cellphone
– Allo Anna-Maria, Anna-Maria! Soledad, the blue a feast no one even looks at. Anna-Maria los ojos de Anna-Maria
– Fuckshitthatstinks, once again the child and the man “Anna-Maria de la mia vida”
the carriage smells of dirty socks and crotches
on the compartment door “fuck you queer!” “suck me bitch!”
and the child: fuckthatstinksfuckthatstinks
the mother: come on love, come on
on the page of the best-seller international a woman spreads her legs
the Brit folds the crease with her thumb
“Anna-Maria your skin like night barely guessed at when night falls and”
– Fuckfuckthatstinks, the child yet again
and the sky flowing backwards in the mirror and the sea and wave of whipped branches equal
and when I see that, my life nevermore will be taking place
then I remember the detestation of speech finally that was all, fear in speech like head bowed
and for twelve hours escaping from the child: fuckshitgoget
the sea death thanks


On the sheets of petrol the shimmer of sequins and enamel. Joy is a broad continent. In its ocean space a pistil is an event. Scribble on a laundry list magneted to the white of a refrigerator. A supermarket trolley. A voice pulsing in peals of sound. A bouncing ball knocks the pleura. A cage of words. The gaya scienza vibrates with the cord of breath. A wrinkle bifurcates at the almond eye. Torrents overstep the helmet of sight.


I have so chewed your death into my words that I ramble on from word to death from death to word
the deadword – the wordead – the deadeath – the wordword –
the wordeath
and such stuttering
I dedicate to our games that you may carry on playing
or that wordplay be magic figure on your mute mouth

you no longer say the word death
death pronounces you
and tells me your body now inconceivable
as if to say that
(your eyes no longer watch intact beneath your eyelids)
as if to say that
(your gaze rotting away to pieces)
as if to say that
(the amazement may exist of a carrion hand in place of your hand)
was as absurd as to mutter
deadwords – wordeads – wordords – wordeaths

death turns all of the language into a gobbledygook
when death and madness are no longer imagined
when they are
dreams unto nightmare a language able to cover the desert
of madness and death with flowers the way
the poor dream of winning the lottery
the wordeath goes to pieces and rots in my mouth
deadword – deawor – deadea – eadwor – eadoor
taken to pieces letter by letter would it surge into the aureate mandorle boned of its remains resurrection and renaissance?

You who are nowhere else than in the chill of death do you know if...
I am one – but so many of us are scraping the earth until we bleed –
scraping our tongues until we bleed
it an attempt to tear away something
a cloak an image
a simulacrum of a feast
to cover
these cold bodies death made for us
these dead words life made for us


Breakaway. The neon signs on the train window. On the other side, my face showing through. Suspended from itself. To join itself in its own disappearance.


in which the polders of the mind crumbled
in which the mind crashed in the shipwreck of the polders of the mind
in which the polders of the mind were drained reclaimed from the tide of the madness of the mind
of plugging the cracks in the dyke of the polders of the mind
of churning up the marshland of the polders of the mind
of filling in the ruts of madness in the polders of the mind
of keeping out the uninvented sea of madness which smashes down on the polders of the mind
the sea disassembled from madness
a knife in the mind's eye

of flushing out the lemmings of madness nesting in the recumbent effigies of the mind
of spreading madness in the mud from the mouths of the praying effigies of the mind
of cleaning out the excavation in the mind into which sinks the madness of the mind
years in the lucidity – the overdone lucidity – of madness
in the high voltage – overvoltage – of madness
in the reason – electric – of madness
a conscience
a last stand of the polders of the mind
the torch of the reason of madness over the unreason of madness

after so many years
of tinkering in the holds of madness
of repairing the machinery of madness
I have experience with the circuit breakers
of madness
I am familiar
a craftsman specialised in the electrification
of madness
I am used to it
experimentally experienced
with the electricity of madness
with the electrocution of water in the drowned ocean of madness
with the oceanic inertia of madness
in which floats the madness of the mad
the ultimate polder of the mind


I tried for clarity I did
I always tried for clarity
labouring trampling words with my tread
spelling out in labour as a labourer a poem
as language shuttles from one end of itself to the other
digging in the ruts
through one of the premonitions which give sense to the senseless – memory of a future and anticipation of the past rather than the future –
from a furrow crisscrossed with words the sound of which I know only as glossolalia of broken language deciphered rent from digging and more digging
from a blindness strangely turned guiding light yet made of brittle crackling bamboo and straw in the open black soil
I tried for clarity as though
aware that I would have to go into deeper night
and dwell in the benightedness of a night neither the contrary nor the reverse of day nor yet a slap of night against the light of day
but the kind of day they have there where it's daynight when neither applies and of itself is nothing either in itself or contrary to the other – and even that is too many words for that place where all is subtracted from all – where all is too much and too little
too much far too much pain
– but anyway always too much any pain –
that I learned there
pain always too much
dark always too much
so I tried for clarity

for clarity in a primitive way I tried
in that place of unday unnight unall
modestly endeavouring
learning in the humility and humiliation of madness
the endeavour required for
the mere opportunity of words such as day or night
and of this day – or unday
I ceaselessly scrubbed the skin of a palimpsest
to find an underneath the scrubbed letters
to collect so to speak
a thimbleful of dew from the acid of speech
screwing up my eyes so that a dagger of daylight filters through the pupils and that far at the vanishing point of the trompe l'oeil is sketched
a distant language making signs

so I tried for clarity
digging head down
hacking furrows tunnels chimneys galleries mineshafts to extract
where how clarity?
drilling down down to a leverage point
to lift the empire of words from the earth
to release a flight of lampreys to a sketch of unsuspected galaxies
words that know that can
words like rockets exploding tongue in mouth and bang!
in the head or chest a hole of healing

sometimes it is that way and sometimes not
but anyway foot by foot advance carve out stud with nails
drive in nails like
planting the dead straight up in the soil
the dead driven in continually
nailing the soil with their heads
and under the burrowing words I can feel the nail heads of the dead
and the death-nailed head of madness
deep in the dark which hollows me back
although I try so hard for clarity
extreme clarity


Meticulous observation of slips. Pinpoint surveys. Exact measurements. I’m not talking topography, I’m talking poetry. They are palpably related. Geometrically, they stake their all. Names unexpected yet calibrated. Depth like a lying surface. And the soundless range of the epidermal phase of earthquakes. Hail melts as it strikes the sea. I show my words their destiny on the page. Only an image, to be taken for what it is. A fact of language, however obstinate. Tenacious. Resolutely crowd-pleasing. Graffiti on the plaster around a broken wrist.


Here I am
I’m here and I say here I am here I am full of
pain and anger
I say here I am like introducing myself to
empty orbits
I here filled with pain and anger
in ten years become become what?

and at the same time present here here I am here
filled with pain and anger
ageing at the minimal dictate of death
and at the same time present
here to life

here I am I here filled with pain and anger
closed up locked up no ear to hear
here in silence walled up walled into silence
like was in the earth
walled up in pain and anger
in the injustice of all endlessly

I here filled with pain and anger
closed up locked up with no more ear for anything
as no ear anywhere to hear pain and anger
mine and the others walled up closed up locked up
no ear never to hear
like I should
with long screams of pain and anger
with such long screams of pain and anger

to hear like you can’t
so I here walled up walled in closed up locked up
filled with pain and anger
I here who loved so much celebrated so much here
I I here
I here I carry on


Against the concrete of a wall barely lit by a flickering bulb, the heart’s destiny. At the corner of a spider’s web. In this fine weft of saliva, the all of all safe from its avalanche. Safe in its plethora, plenitude. In the geography of the disencumbered. On the downward staircase from the esplanade, the landing of peace. In the vacuum of abdicating watchfulness. In the unfilling of amplitude.


The scent of mothballs and turpentine. Pads bristling with needles and roaches exterminated in a cloud of floury dust. At the time, my childhood smelt of mimosa. I confused a taste for paradox with its musical interval in the thickening of thought. I chased pins under the dry-cleaner’s counter. They helmeted the horseshoe magnet with a diadem of darts. Or a mane of words rebelling against this improvised bait. A balloonfish’s anger. A porcupine’s hunger. And my mother’s voice laughed, laughed, laughed in her eyes forever.


The fog. In a faintness of day that shifts nonexistent from mist to night. At the pavement’s stop, a bite. In the ripped ligaments, the twisted foot of Oedipus. Hips sway as Jacob wrestles. The devil wounded at the fork of the toes. A fable born of a tearing. Like a mandrake root of hanged men’s sperm. The out-of-tune march of Ulugh Begh beats time for the grading of the poem and planets. And the Burmese fishermen paddle, their calves twisted round their single oar. The sound of wood limping inside the water is a crutch as the sign of speech. The mark on Cain’s forehead with which God redeems him from his curse. The sound of steps always an announcement. Mine are uneven and split me. With the same steps I waltz and skid in the badge of my body to the claudication of my name.


like a crackling loaf I also promised the basket
of long-gone eyes
news from here but here where I stand
I gaze at nothingness far away
furthest away into nothingness like
the punched-out hole in a wheel
in a nothing moon far away
here where I stand in Métro Clichy
where a man is tearing away a poster and slapping the torn-off image of a beef roast onto his face – shreeeetttschplotchchchh –
an old woman stinks of alcohol , screams
- I aaaaaaam not, I am noooooot!
the man rips the beef roast – suddenly, rrratch – together with his temples – a softer russsstle on skin – giggling – hehhehhehhehheh, no ee’s – and reads over my shoulder clucks like a guineafowl kweekweekkweekkweekkweekweek says the man here
like those birthday cards
with a clown or a gilded bouquet inside – with a very slight fuff of amused surprise –
I promised from here
but here where gazing into faraway nothingness
nothing left faraway like
a mutation in a museum jar
in tiny leaps of an amphibious body – hop! hop! hop! –
half in death half in life
where is that where I am here
where “I am just looking for a man” is printed on the old woman’s leatherette shopping bag as lads catcall
– “Hey fatso, way you look, you’re not getting any anytime soon!
– Not unless ‘e’s lookin’ to commit suicide! – commitsuicideyeah –
– Hey you fuckers, it’s Diogenes!
– Old bat’s even crazier than she’s ugly!”
they pour Coke over her shoes – blopfleeflatch – wunf wunf the old woman’s feet in her spongy tennies –
the old lady weeps and screams “Baaastards!”
she sniffs and moans hooheeheeheeheeheeaaahaaaheeeeeeeeeeeeeee they chorus hahahahaheyheeehahafatsofatsofaaaatsohahahaso! so!aha! ha here
as I promised
I’m sending you
what from here
ungazing not faraway not at nothingness
faraways slaughtering each other here as in
the eye’s place words put it out
or an unreadable disk the computer spits out
– shhhhppp –
I’m writing to you from where I stand
near the exit
where the man is humming “what I’m doing with me aaarms what i’m doing with me aaarms?” – whirling them in time exactly like St Joseph’s madman who walked around with a calf’s tongue on his forehead and chanting “heeeell, it’s cleeear enough, iiiit’s only a queeeestion of toooonnngue!”
and as far as tongues are concerned I agree : a beef’s tongue in his mouth and a beef roast on his face
a trickle of urine runs down between the old woman’s legs mixes with Coke – tip-tip-tip-tiptiptiptip-tip-tip –
the four lads jump into the train:
– Aaaack disgusting, why don’t you just die already, diiiiiiie!”
the old woman lifts her arms in a curse and stammers words sliced up by the slamming doors – shhhhclack in one go –
slices of sound wriggle in between the passengers
aasta-ba-aasta-asta-a-sta –
concerning speech therefore the same : wurst in cellophane squished under the wheels of the departing train
like killing the already dead – bambambambambam –
what do I tell you about here
except the shredded nothingness of here
with livers spleens kidneys
guts inside and outside
the skin as usual here it
all depends
where it’s always the same where I stand
where the man is giggling – still hehhehhehhehheh no ee’s – and I’m writing – the ballpoint’s ball noiseless on the page but the cardiac percussion of techno in my heart chambers – ba-tam-ba-tam-ba-tam-ba-tam –
our twin eyeballs joined
in the same orbit he and I
he says: tickletickletickletickle little smiley and I smile
and my lips rounded and defenestrating
concerning silence therefore: his cavity
yesyes that was it today yeeeeees nothing
changed here yesyesyeeesyeah that’s how it is here
like watching a face go up in smoke
not all not nothingness
what is cancelled from here like
the echo of putrefied light spurting from a tomb
nothingness to send you from here
just the little piece of chalk I crushed
– sscreeshss – without meaning to on the platform
to bring you luck once more in death
from the flamboyant flare of life
– hoowowhahwahwaaaaweeee – yes! –
here underground in Métro Clichy
here where I stand


Impassive, all bust, no arms, merely stretched to legs of grainy shreds. Her locked-in breast expels a huge scream. The first time I saw the holes pierced by that scream in her terror-face, I leapt backwards. Then I understood that was where I could house my fear. I called it the fear-catcher. It is a guard of a kind, a bronze soldier, a password-free golem posted on the threshold of an ant’s nest of cruelty. Or, more prosaically, a rag. And I clean up. I clean up with my hanged man’s tongue. Without obsession yet with domestic attention to the worst and to the macula it leaves on the stained-glass window of the eye.


Frost on squealing car doors. Splinters of snow in the neck’s woolliness. The icy slope in front of the station in its halo of half-light. Time a hairpin. It starts up again, feet forward, against the grain of its history. Half-boots crackle on the ice. The snow. Dilute its duration. The black hole of the snow. To its devouring. The irremediable loss of entwined fingers. Hauling so many other endings. In the café, a cockchafer on the back of upturned tables. In their image my arms, stiff against the counter, contain stunned agitation in immobility. The snow. In its softness. In a flattening of time returned to the unity of its extent. To the fluffy fur of a cape hanging on the hook. The snow. In hot grog, an icicle of eternity.


after such time spent in the company of madness
or rather – for you don’t keep madness company – with madness
or rather – for you don’t live with madness, either – side by side with madness
or rather – for there is no side or side by side to madness – against madness
or rather – for there is no opposing madness – in the toils of madness
or rather – for madness weaves nothing rather unravels even the weft of language – in the gap of madness
or rather – as madness has no gaps into which the madness of language can slip into the language of madness – within madness
or rather – as I only adjoined madness and there is no within nor without in madness – face to face with madness or rather – as madness has no face madness is the taming of madness by an image of madness – in a struggle with madness
yes that maybe – the body being madness without words – thus after such time of madness as
ironically you might say going mad for a terrific bargain in a sale when madness sells only a disguise of rags
after such time spent at the circus of madness, its raggedy fairground merry-go-round roller coaster maze – as a fair is madness at Saturday-night funfairs that turn the light vaguely blue over there at the town’s limits –
thus after: in the desert of madness – the repetitive desert – the maundering repetition of madness –
after: such time of madness outside language
I fear talk about madness, the foolishness of talk about madness
an outrage to pain, dullness, panic
the painful dullness and panic of madness
and gripping the body – under the lifted skirts of madness – the ligature of madness

and I list – as in cabinets of curiosities the oddities of time past, five-legged sheep, unicorns and hailstones of frozen words – to ward off the fear that remains with me
– the demonisation of madness – though a great divider by the blade of schizomadness – and the confusion of crime with madness as an insult to the madmen and madwomen in the asylum with whom I talked so much
– the placatory sentimentalisation of madness which is a horror according to the authorised testimony of the madmen and madwomen to whom I listened so much
– the voyeurism of the non-mad regarding the mad, the fascination of the non-mad – more or less mad but not similarly mad – with madness, who babble on about madness as if all had to be taken away from the mad, even their own word, and the mad could inhabit their own madness only through the speech of non-madness which obliterates the ramblings of madness, replacing the misery of madness with imaginary madness and the accommodation of madness
– and the reduction of the mad to their madness and the sinking of their whole personality into madness although there are only specks, sparks, splinters, wedges of madness sunk into a skull otherwise free all over of madness
– and also the negation of madness through the suppression of the irreducible difference of madness which turns life oh so different, the cheerful appropriation of madness in a light, brotherly madness devoid of the sharklike devouring of madness and of the sufferings of madness which are, as I list them
the anguish of madness beyond that of universal madness
the terror, once out of madness, of finding oneself impaled on madness
the haunting clarity of madness as it emerges from madness
and more: the courage to face madness to continue with the madness of living of asking the reasons of the unreason of madness

thus after all such time given to strolls on the paths of madness, in the rural sweetness of the countryside all at once scalded by madness
I learned fear of madness
and greater fear still of ordinary madness worse than individual madness and mad in a different manner on the accredited slope of madness through the mad accreditation of reason to its madness

after such time in its company, I list
– the mad painter at Hôpital Saint Louis who with the tips of his ink-dipped fingers traced on the walls the web of his madness
– the old woman dumped at Roanne locked up for thirty years to keep her out of the way and all due to some vague memory loss
– the cricket man meditating endlessly on the difficulty of couplings between crickets and grasshoppers under the snow, murmuring rocking backward and forward next to the misted-up window “under the snow like my life”
– the speaker in tongues at Sainte Anne who rambled in multiple languages and nonetheless spoke like any other person when he thought it indispensable
– the photographer at Latinaia who would use only plastic cutlery so as not to risk injury in a moment of madness and, haunted by the thought, sawed away at his meat with a plastic knife while discussing the poetry of Gherasim Luca and Petrarca in refined and precise Italian
for the sake of them, the mute, several dead, all voiceless, language chewed up by the jawless molars of madness
and for the sake of the others, so many others who did or did not make it out of there, and yet others who are entering
I who live fully entirely in ordinary madness and measure the insignificance of their madness compared with that madness
I who splash around in common madness
daily participate in common madness
survive it without going mad though to go mad would be the only sensitive and sensible attitude to the ravaging madness that is habitual madness
for the sake of them and of the ripped-apart clairvoyance of their madness
and because no language can tell madness that trains all speech in the order of madness forces all language to its knees overexposes language to the non-language language of madness
since all that speaks of madness is a manner of making use of madness, of making hay from madness as one milks a sacred cow to drink the nourishing milk of speech
for the sake of those who climb the Himalayas of madness keeping a logbook of madness, dare to call it “Neurons Gone Insane” the title of the newsletter put out by the mad at La Timone Hospital
due to
the atrocity of madness the gaiety of madness
the humour of madness the humanity of madness
let’s settle for words that hang from the teats of madness
and may the mad forgive us for saying never enough and always too much


A piece of bread. The crumb rolling under the index finger. Too much definitive. Too much definitively time. A drop of water swells on the end of the tap. Life shrinks to the reflection of a drop. Too early to fall. Already hanging towards dying. Sugar scratches glass. So to speak: glass on a looking-glass. In a gallery of looking-glasses where I keep quiet to escape the icons. On the back of a spoon a pensive psyche. And as one draws cards I make quiet progress, half-heartedly, towards a halfway manner of speaking. And here comes yet another morning. On the edge of the saucer the sugar-lump has melted. And the coffee is cold.


Up the mizzen mast, celebration. The heart and body are feasting. In honour of collapsed gods, the truncated shaft of what was, celebration. To the axis drawn through the wheel. In the invocatory, chanting, sobbing voice, celebration. Between air and larynx. In a first name, a reticent intention, an emphasis on the antepenultimate or this morning a hand sliding from the neck to the nonchalant shoulder. Celebration. To its sawdust strands of bone-marrow.


I say
similarly separately we shall die
muttering the obvious with the edge of our teeth
a bite in the fleshy part of the cheek
like a novelty
if what has happened had yet to happen – and always happens –
say once more
– do you remember I said the only ends for lovers to die together for love to die before them or for death to separate them –
you say without knowing you know and don’t know

similarly when you die without me at your side
similarly without you I shall die

I go I live
live lively on life’s sharp edge
on life’s chatty edge
on the sharp end of life cleansed of death by death
I live
in the live split of life scraped clean of death by your death
separating death and life death joining dead and live
similarly separately
I live
in the sharp steel of life tempered in the basin of death
I live
the livingness of my life
I see running off into its siphon
if soon whatever the time left to me
if soon in relation to the duration of death

and in its immensity we are
similarly separately


Time on the heart wears out its length, hisses its viper venom. Knowing it is simply curled up in a spiral to which one becomes accustomed. Before the breaking of the neck on the cement of a family grave. Glory to whence I came and where I shall never return. To these temporary homes that lack mourning. To the clemency of chance of which no part shall be mine. Not even sadness. Yet prior to these debris : “To life!”

Mercredi 9 Août 2017
Lu 439 fois

Dans la même rubrique :





Bio-bibliography - 08/08/2017



Revue Cités N°73,
Effraction/ diffraction/
la place du poète
dans la Cité,
mars 2018.

Pour avoir vu un soir
la beauté passer

Anthologie du Printemps
des poètes,
Castor Astral, 2019

La beauté, éphéméride
poétique pour chanter la vie
Editions Bruno Doucey, 2019.

Le désir aux couleurs du poème,
anthologie éd
Bruno Doucey 2020.