My mother’s language

I haven’t seen my mother for twenty years
She let herself starve to death
They say she removed her scarf each morning
and struck the earth seven times
cursing the sky and the Tyrant
I was in the cave
where the convict reads in the shadows
and paints on the walls the bestiary of the future
I haven’t seen my mother for twenty years
She left me a Chinese coffee set
one by one the cups break and
I don’t miss them, they are so ugly
But I love the coffee in them all the more
Today, when I am alone
I borrow my mother’s voice
or rather she speaks in my mouth
with her curses, her profanities and invectives
the rare rosary of her pet names
all the endangered species of her word
I have not seen my mother for twenty years
but I am the last man
who still speaks her language



Two hours on the train

In two hours on the train
I replay the film of my life
Two minutes per year, on average
A half hour for childhood
another for prison
Love, books, wandering
take up the rest
The hand of my companion
slowly melts into my own
and her head on my shoulder
is light as a dove
When we arrive
I’ll be fifty
and I’ll hav
about an hour to live



I pull the curtains

I pull the curtains
to smoke as I please
I pull the curtains
to have a drink
to the health of Abou Nouwas
I pull the curtains
to read the latest Rushdie book
Soon, who knows
I may have to go down to the cellar
and double-lock myself in
to be able
to think
as I please

The World’s embrace
Translated by Edris Makward and Victor Reinking