Lunar Poems

From Lunar Poems by José-Flore Tappy
Translated from the French by John Taylor

                      Kaos

Cut-off heads empty skulls
roll in the dust
resound
over the naked earth
their foreheads hit
the ground

the bowling balls
leaving a player’s hand
when they arc up then down
strike other balls
like rocks

a game for bandits
a game for murderers

             *

             [untitled]

But it’s the moon
hallucinating the sea the anguish
the attractive one
provoking laughter or shouting
reeling
calling out to it
it’s the salt in the air and the song
of Sirens and its head spinning
on the rolling
waves

             *

             [untitled]

Numbed
blue with cold
down there
their eyes vanish
in the depths of their faces

we look for
we wish

but oblivion
oblivion alone covers them
their mouths stuffed with snow

             *

             [untitled]

The wet green
sweating
persevering earth
a bowl of steam into which
I plunge my face

all its moisture
rises
to opaqueness

saying nothing
is perhaps
just to breathe
when the body
no longer casts a shadow

             *

             [untitled]

On the scorching soil
I smoke weeds
that have become poisonous
and submissively wait
wait for the night
to cover me
with its black salt
and firewood




These poems have been selected from Lunaires (Lunar Poems), Éditions Empreintes, 2001 /
2005.

About the Poet: José-Flore Tappy was born in Lausanne in 1954. She is the author of five volumes of poetry: Errer mortelle (Payot, 1983), Pierre à feu (Empreintes, 1987), Terre battue (Empreintes, 1995), Lunaires (La Dogana, 2001), and Hangars (Empreintes, 2006). She has won two prestigious Swiss literary awards: the Ramuz Prize for Errer mortelle and the Schiller Prize for both Hangars and her entire poetic oeuvre. She works as an editor and scholar at the Centre de Recherches sur les Lettres Romandes at the University of Lausanne. In John Taylor’s translations, her poems have appeared in the Antioch Review, the International Literary Quarterly, Two Lines, Carte Blanche, Asymptote, and Trans Lit Magazine, and are forthcoming in Thrush and The Bitter Oleander.

About the Translator: John Taylor received a 2011 NEA grant for his project to translate Georges Perros’s Papiers collés and a second grant, from the Sonia Raiziss Charitable Foundation, to translate Louis Calaferte’s Le Sang violet de l’améthyste. He has recently translated books by Philippe Jaccottet (And, Nonetheless, Chelsea), Pierre-Albert Jourdan (The Straw Sandals, Chelsea), and Jacques Dupin (Of Flies and Monkeys, Bitter Oleander Press). Taylor’s most recent collection of personal writings is The Apocalypse Tapestries (Xenos), and he has a new book, If Night is Falling, forthcoming with the Bitter Oleander Press in 2012. He is also the author of the three-volume essay collection, Paths to Contemporary French Literature (Transaction), as well as Into the Heart of European Poetry (Transaction).