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From “Four Square Poems”

By
January 25, 2005

 

3.

to have a mouth only to be quiet, waiting for the next word / to have had arms but paralyzed before the coming of the next crime / the fallen stone, the exhausted music, man divides and rejoins at the summit of speech speech turned inoffensive speech that ceases to fill its principal function of speaking and yet is still speech / arms tired in their motion / their stream of negotiation indecisive in the end, but essential nevertheless / of the anger of the demonstrated demo, done, over but starting again / the tentacular enemy / to look for life in the nonlife / war effort with only martyrs in its sack, lost among the pebbles / only the dead on its side, after the treason of words on this route wiped clean of its crime / this city capsizing / only the dead are not accomplices to the next treason, in this problematic May morning / of mourning / yet still of waking / to have no home but the cemetery / for

[THE REVOLUTIONS OF MORTICIANS]

4.

to look for a lifesaving buoy in the flood / the destruction of the last drop of man / to look for support for the man who flounders / the raft without master to laugh in the waves, waiting for the ultimate shock / the navigator who has lost the wind’s direction and awaits the storm / grasping words / like the roots of the water / words that remake life / to believe in words / that soothe the pains the verb that is poetry / the verb that is life, poetry that is life / but words have ceased to say, lost virginity / words are the raped virgin who rips at her sex / the violent castration of the powerless / my words have lost the meanings of their definitions / my words refuse all shared gestures / and speech to meat / droppings / rinds / shit how to avoid

[THE WRATH OF GOD]

 

[Translated from the French by Cullen Goldblatt, from elobi]

Patrice Nganang, from Cameroon, is the author of a book of essays on Bertolt Brecht and Wole Soyinka, a collection of poems, elobi, four novels, La promesse des fleurs, Temps de chien, which was awarded the Prix Marguerite Yourcenar 2001 and the Grand prix de la litterature d’Afrique noire 2002, La joie de vivre and L’invention du beau regard. He is an assistant professor of French and German at Shippensburg University.

Cullen Goldblatt lives in New York and is of South African origin. He studies at Sarah Lawrence College, and will defend his Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing in May 2005. He has also translated poems by Leon Damas. Previously, Cullen lived and studied in Dakar, and hopes to return.

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