Offcourse Literary Journal
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Three Poems, by Louis Armand.

Rudolf Valentino Matinee.

in broad daylight hard of breathing, there are
still many poor people in this country —
a torn newspaper lying on the stairs, a
sanitary cordon
a wall
of frozen air blocking the way. who
has enough of anything
to force the issue? shoulder-high in
door-to-door stand-off —it's only
a small thing they ask of you
that you may ask so much of them.
measuring out the fix
in lift-shaft chiaroscuro. an eyelid
slanting across an eye, a rent-mouth, a
plastic bouquet
or the jar hidden beneath
the kitchen sink. in this routine
you always pay for
something more —another five minutes,
another chance, another
last way out. as if there were still time
to catch the silent matinee at the all-
night movie house. a bum with a paper
rose sings be my valentine. it's
raining. it could be a sign

 


 

Use for Places Left Over After Planning and Construction.

theatre is an illness. everyone's trying to fight
it —christoph schlingsief
repudiate the old sorrows. laughter, rebuke. a cath-
arsis of ratios, situations, pitfall of
holding onto words-without-fault as though
you were an ear. tensing the un-
certain august daylight: a brick building coursed by
time-lapse shadows where the crowd reads
the image of its situation. what difference
is one more walker in the city?
all the world's a stage: store-front reflections —the
rush of pedestrian silhouettes
asphalt curbs inter-
sections —dry goods hung
from awnings
limned against the
sky: these & other signs to be —in accord with the
time— accepting obstruction. nine o'clock
faces out of the station. something they are late for
&
already rain, already abiding
in the dark place where you take off the
covering. & the perverse ingenuity
of what it does not hide

 


 

Again, but Slowly.

arrivals & departures in detroit. in
chicago ticketless. paris gare-du-
nord. sleepless in luxembourg all-
night café bar, red light zone.
reykjavík. new york mid-december
drunk under a blizzard. tokyo
sci-fi. vapour trail, ejaculate, meth-
amphetamine. naming the unknown
face in the crowd. a compendium
of alter-egos thrust into space from
airport toilet cubicles. static flooding
the circuits, gravity sickness. how
to recognise the end without sign-
posts? the too-emblematic crow, ice
vendor, palm tree, zinc tub, freight
car. lost again in the salvage yard,
something is blocking the way:
returning to the desert & climbing
those stairs where the surface
used to be. no chain-link fence, no
cordon sanitaire to mark the check-
point. we work like idiots in front
of the whole world, elephant-men,
beasts of burden, dragging up
the rubble —no longer young but we
in our time had never been slaves


Louis Armand is Director of Intercultural Studies (ICS), Department of English & American Studies, Philosophy Faculty, Charles University, Praha, Czech Republic. His poems have appeared in Offcourse Issue #22 and Offcourse Issue #8, in French and in English.
See also his website at www.louis-armand.com


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