Offcourse Literary Journal
ISSN 1556-4975 




my translation is very rough; witness or not, who can know
what the allusions refer to?

the child with the bleeding rose. a son naturally—in the
expropriated manner of a symbol, in its various
forms & metamorphoses—we hide it away so carefully
we no longer remember where &, even, what it is

like the martyr’s jawbone, a piece of the true cross—
barely a thing or even the image of a thing. or a
mouth, a voice, that veils & darkens its meaning—each
sound rising above the other, a black under-wing
beating the sky. & past-time these sounds belong to
no living being but a part of speech which cannot be

spoken of. a scarecrow’s demented nonsense, all
sodden plumage & mock moon. or an image
of its dumbness seized in a pane of glass, deliberately.
inveigled like the pearl of a diseased oyster, like
history inveigled with the gross words we must tell it by.
a guttering of vowels, consonants, empty registers—

leaves whitening before rain; a greygreen somnolence
framing the likeness of a man-child born mid-winter
hauled out by its right leg. a seachanged effigy, in a
harbor among the decrepit ships high at stern, dredged
from that rank harbor bed. how it balanced there
as it emerged from the tide all effluent of seawater

running from limbs—& seemed to vomit refutations
from its stone lips’ gargoyle’s spout. a noise, swollen &
high-pitched—it rose up strange towards a clear
semblance of day & the ear we must learn to listen with



except for the fact. messages home into
a separation—confirm all the equally
undistinguished myths about you
those you managed to control only more
or less. mojos for general use

last time it was grenada, isolation boxes,
1983. we were young then. a little
tooth for a little eye.
rome fell before you knew it—if only
the moon were a giant tse-tse fly

now you have come back to your hole to
roost. two fallopian arms stretched
wide: welcome home.
life is full of unadmitted failures.
“a poem has a license to lie” does it



a head in a box, in plain white, a stone
head, a round of carrara marble closed in a
glass & steel box. white
mountains rise straight up
from the plain—limestone outcrops
intercepting late
shadows: fingers move across the landscape
as attentive to each detail as a
braille reader’s. the train
from livorno to rapallo where the treaty
was signed—we are gladly
neither here nor there. still everything
appears only in miniature,
has not yet grown to a scale only
mathematics conveys. about the arrival time, we
were misinformed



broken ground, pot shards, a suburban grid plan
worked out with lengths of string
“arrayed shelves across squares”—what’s known?
the densities, the wrested meeting point
of provenance & things acquired
by accident. old television shapes wrestle
in the stalking house at the back
of the mind. each conjunction, each article leads us
further & further astray—who can say
if we will ever be there again 



on ne peut pas porter partout avec soi le cadavre de son père

the ritual begins farther down-wind of our
prey—sealing the rust-red cartridges
with candle wax. these encyclicals
have passed down the age from
eye to volitional eye through one
continuous nerve, hinging the pointed finger

somewhere there is not this elsewhere
to which dawn withdraws its cold
bleak look, fur matting the dilated
eye. & after: a silence uprooted by the wind
where you hear the onset of a larger
silence—& sicken to it

once again the meal is tainted, &
wild men scream through the keyhole



after the evolution game was played—first
a triangle a square a circle a columbine
or the truth will out, paring a godlike
fingernail to root-stop—heedlessly
one takes full measure of the other
the moment everything else stands still

as the beating slowed the hands became still
dawn broke on that scene of the first
murder—saffron, crocuses, columbine
a fracture-line ruining a godlike
demeanor. we fled against the tide, heedlessly
failing in this task as any other

emasculated in the arms of others
huge fists of granite resounding on the still
body, fixed under an escarpment—its first
shape made in the image of columbines
torn up by the root. more spited than godlike
their effigies tumbled heedlessly

to abide the laws of conscience, heedlessly—
its dumbness taking other
forms. hands that will not keep still
yet complete no gesture. at first
it spoke of redemption, a wreath of columbines
on a forehead that almost seemed godlike

neither word nor illusion of a godlike
presence in this world. we proceed heedlessly
on to the end—finita la commedia. no other
means of perturbation, to still
the trembling synapse. you stand before the first
as before the last, virginally. a columbine

seasons were perennial: in summer, columbines
in winter, alstroemeria. their godlike
resurrection defied us, heedless
of our conceit. the self repeats in others’
commonality—wild & angry is the night you still
cling to, believing you were the first

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 in:

Issue #23, Spring 2005

Issue #22 Winter 2005

Issue #8, in French and in English.

See also his website at


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