A poem by Mohammed Khaïr-Eddïne, translated from the French by Conor Bracken.

I’m not lamenting this taunted blood
but a cast of hawks
high as the blood carries its irremediable bill
with the sluice where death leans into my eye

o sun
your crutches shatter now
the brief cry of earth clods tossed at the heavens

my chest is an arms cache badly shut
and leaps better than a cricket
over the silence of my eye
over the charm of the echoless rock
where the Berber laps up his retinas

over your death
André Breton rejected
by the grave to which the eye nailed the sun
by the sole murder by the day toasting
with hemlock poured into your idioms
but since the war in me is a maimed affair
since fantasy is a soap that does not wash me
of the viridian men
who rebel against the dead wave of oceans blooming
into specter
me the only one surveilled by my gestures
sniped dead by a time worse than the poem
the real time burns its hair in the red honey
of our voices
while negation carries this man in its tits
to the highest raid from which purity gushes
liberty is not milk or star or reason
virility police not the joy of a dead season
but this impenetrable blood
under your fingernails
they say death but what is a star without a cavern
a head
if not a target offered to the present sewn up with crime

strange threat!

Each wind carries in it my death perfectly designed but I say to each wind Here’s my death and I have mapped myself so well my edges no longer have a place to exist. I hand my death out like shots—in the only street whose end is no more solid than a look rusty with absence and a crappy array. Your death is not just one death one box of matches hanging from the bottom of a bar not a glass of white wine not a clove of agony on the basement parquet where poetry lies pregnant and who wouldn’t drool over all of the gold appalled by the solitary individual spectacle of our systematic burials.

O poetry gag me now!

The last word does not exist. The dynamite of the first word is enough.
Men my kegs of powder; men immunized against man;
man you have no more time to doubt;
man you lick your spittle and don’t limp backwards;
man lost look;
when poetry ripens into the pure green of delirium and when the
desert has surrendered its water to the incessant evil that fueled you
André Breton
when man has blown out Aladdin’s lamp
when Ali Baba has claymored the void
when Jesus has finished devouring his cross
when Mohammed has hoarded enough money
to burst every pipe
the eye turns to me
I sell my death
I am wounded in the chest
—apple tree
old armor
prohibiting neither Eve nor Adam
but the atomic silence that stipulates me
to the millions of stacks of skins I will carry
into the anthology of the incinerated world

But why slaughter oneself to save just one word hollowed out by termites a house that collapses as
soon as one enters


© Editions Gallimard, Paris, 2009

Mohammed Khaïr Eddïne & Conor Bracken