The Slapped Adolescent

         He was hurled to the ground by the same unjust blows that hurtled him far ahead in his life, toward future years when one person alone could no longer make him bleed. Like the small shrub that draws succor from roots, clasping bruised branches against its resolute core, he backed away mute into what he knew and into his innocence. Finally freed and filled with sovereign joy, he fled to the meadow and reached the trembling wall of dry reeds. He cajoled the mud to rise up. What was noblest and most enduring on earth seemed to adopt him, as if to make amends.
         And so it would start again. He knew one day he would hold his ground, attentive and standing tall among men—more at risk, more resistant.

Mute Game

With my teeth
I have seized life
Upon the knife of my youth.
With my lips today,
With my lips alone

Briefly come,
Bloom of the slopes,
Orion’s spear
Has reappeared.


René Char authored some twenty collections of poetry during his lifetime. In addition to his literary accomplishments, he was a leader of the French Resistance. This June marks the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Nancy Naomi Carlson is the author of Kings Highway (WWPH), Complications of the Heart (Texas Review Press) and Imperfect Seal of Lips (Poems & Plays). She is an associate editor for Tupelo Press and an instructor at the Bethesda Writer’s Center. These poems are part of Stone Lyre, forthcoming from Tupelo Press.

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