Damned Women

Translated by Martha Bayne

By the pale light of languid lamps, on cushions drenched with strong perfume,
Hippolyte dreamed of strokes so strong, they could lift the veil of June.

But looking back, she faltered; she didn’t understand. Where once the sky shone blue and clear now clouds loomed far from land.

Lost in lust’s defenseless stupor, she wept, hot, tired, and tearful.
Her vanquished limbs disarmed, flung wide, she is fragile and so beautiful.

Fragile and so beautiful.

Stretched at her feet, calm and joyous, Delphine watched with eyes aflame
An animal playing with her prey, after marking it as slain.

Strong beauty on her knees, victorious before the weak,
She pulled her body close and long, seeking kisses soft and sweet.

But where was the silent pulse of pleasure? The thanks rising from a fluttered lash?
She searched her victim’s pallid eye, but found little joy, no flash.

“Hippolyte, my love, what are you thinking? Don’t you get what all this is about? You don’t have to give some jerk your flower – he will only snuff it out.”

“My kisses are like fireflies that caress the lake at dusk.
And your boyfriend? His love will pass, while he batters your body with his tusk.

“Turn to me my love – my all and my better half! Show me your starry eyes.
One look and I’ll draw you down to sleep, in the endless dream of pleasure’s thighs.”

“I regret nothing, my sweet Delphine.” Hippolyte lifted her head.
But I suffer, uneasy; like after a midnight meal of bread.

“Something heavy moves within me; dark phantoms — I cannot lie! They drive me down a strange road, where the ground shifts beneath a bleeding sky.

“Have we done something wrong? Tell me! I don’t understand this fright.
You call me your angel, I tremble with fear – and then my lips still seek your light.

“Don’t look at me like that! My sister, my elation.
I’ll love you forever but you must know, our joy is the spark for my damnation.”

And Delphine shook her mane and stamped her feet, and trembled for a spell.
Then “In the face of love,” she spat, “How dare you speak of hell!”

“It’s a stupid game – I curse it – to marry honesty to love.
A solution to a pointless problem, one dreamed up by fools above.

“If you seek some magic union of shadow and of heat.
You’ll never warm your frozen body in the red-hot sun of love’s defeat.

“Go back to your boyfriend! Seek some stupid bridegroom, and leave me to my disaster.
You’ll be sorry, you’ll be back. You can only serve one master.”

And Hippolyte, just a child, cried out: “I am torn apart!
The chasm you have opened is a hole inside my heart!

“Now the monster is awakened, he screams with thirst and rage.
I think nothing will calm his fury – not even burning sage.

“He will never be quiet, and I’m so tired my love. Draw the curtains and shut out the rest.
Onto your chest I will sink my head, and die with the cool of the grave upon your breast.”

Down, down, down, victims
Walk the path to hell.
A suffering wind shall whip you
For your crimes eternal.

Burn, burn, burn you whores,
Descend into the fires.
Pleasure you won’t feel again,
Just the parched desire.

Dark, dark, dark you see,
No light shall pierce the black.
Only gaslit fever dreams,
A stench your body attacks.

Dry, dry, dry your skin,
Joy has left you mad.
Thirsty, limp, and tempest tossed,
Your body shakes; it’s sad.

Lost, lost, lost you girls,
Wolves the desert skirt.
Disordered souls, your fate awaits,
You who flee from god to flirt.

[Original poem here.]


The Cover

Translated by David Costanza

There’s no escaping it, come Hell or High Water,
Sailing over plastic, dreaming in the gutter,
Penniless Jesus-Freak, or rich mother-fucker
Hear the anchor-man say: “There’s no use! So, why bother?”

Celibate, GGG, Pangender, Boot-Licker,
An Arm-Chair Alarmist, A Climate-Change Denyer
Feel the same dull defeat, the plot getting thicker
Under Heaven’s blank stare, boiling on the same fire.

Heaven! We choke on it!
The lift goes no higher!

Our blood-thirsty theatre
That feeds on the choir.

It’s trash day, the gigs up!
Go Home Now! Retire.

[Original poem here.]

Sundown Romantic

The rising sun has such splendid esteem
Like an explosion he hurls down “Hello!”
And blessed is she who exalts in his glow
At his bedtime, more lustrous than a dream

I’ve seen them all, the furrow and stream
Swoon under his gaze in a trembling state
“Let’s run towards the horizon, it’s late!
We must run fast to catch the last slanting beams!”

But when I chase after the God who withdraws
I find that vast Night has laid down the law
Black, moist, baleful, and full of chills

The smell of a tomb swims in the fog
My trembling foot probes the edge of a bog
Finding unexpected toads and snails

[Original poem here.]

Seven Old Men

Translated by Chris Schoen

Swarming city, drenched with dreams
Where ghosts grab you in plain day, defiant
Mystery coursing through canals and streams
Like sap through the veins of an ancient giant

One morning I was out walking in the sad streets
All the houses were stretched by the gloom
Looking like a sunken fleet
A set dressed for an actor’s doom

A yellow fog flooded around every lamp pole
I steeled my nerves and steadied my feet
I whispered calmly to my shaky soul
While carts rumbled in the cobbled streets

Suddenly, an old man whose yellow hue
Mimicked the color of the rainy sky
I nearly said to him “What can I do–?”
But for the menace which narrowed his eyes

He stood before me
His gaze just sharpening the frosty wind
His pointy beard as stiff as a sword
Jutting forward like Judas’s chin

His mangled back seemed less bent than broken
Against his leg it made a perfect crook
His walking stick completed the joke
Gave him the gait and the awkward look

Of a wounded animal
Through snow and mud he trampled along
His dirty moccasins stamped down the dead
Like all creation had done him wrong

His doppleganger followed behind him
His very double forged in the same hell
Two uncanny ancient twins
Processing together towards an unknown goal

What evil doings had I happened upon?
What mocking demon made what I had just spied?
I blinked seven times on this cursed dawn
Each time this wicked man had multiplied!

You might laugh at my coming unglued
Maybe you wouldn’t shiver in my stead
But notwithstanding their decrepitude
These seven phantoms were eternally undead

To have endured an eighth apparition
Might be the last thing I would ever do
So to escape my demolition
I turned my back upon this retinue

Exasperated like a drunk seeing double
I rushed home and barred my door against the city
Body in fever and my mind in trouble
Haunted by impossibility

My reason vainly tried to take command
But visions they would not abandon me
So like a mastless ship estranged from the land
My soul just danced on a borderless sea!

[Original poem here.]

Translated by Chris Schoen

Once all the scarlet lovers vowed
To leave none of their joys unspoken
Now look at me, my arms are broken
For I had dared to clasp a cloud

Farewell to every star but one
Gleaming in the deepest skies
The only lights my scalded eyes
Can see are memories of the sun

It all seemed to be mine for the taking
The bosom and the heart of space
And then an eye of fire–what is this place?
Suddenly my wings are breaking

By beauty I am burned to dust
Never to intone the prayer
Christening the inky Nowhere
Where I will never lie in rest

[See the original poem here.]

Translated by Bradley Grant Smith

What does God do with that stream of curses
Rising each day to the Seraphim?
A tyrant bloated on meat and juices
Who falls asleep while we plead with him.
The sobs of martyrs and the tortured
Must seem to him a pretty symphony
Since despite the pain and blood it costs us
The Lord will crave more eternally

O! Jesus! Remember in the olive trees
When in your simplicity you prayed and blessed
Him who in Heaven laughed at the sound
Of nails being driven into your flesh?

Did your thoughts fall back into the past
When you were told of His eternal promise?
You rode through town upon your stinky ass
Your fingernails and beard all caked with hummus.
You swelled with courage, were filled with hope
And whipped those merchants with a vengeance.
You thought you were their master, you stupid dope
And now you must suffer for your ignorance!

When my time comes I’ll be quite satisfied
To leave a world lovely only when we sleep.
I’ll live by the sword and by the sword I’ll die.
Saint Peter denied his master reasonably.

[Hear the music here.]

[Original poem here.]

Translated by Bradley Grant Smith

Tell me does your heart ever try to fly away, Agatha?
Far from the green waters of this filthy city
To an island blue and magical
With waters of untouched virginity?
Tell me does your heart ever try to fly away, Agatha?

The sea, the endless sea consoles us in our prison
Some demon taught the sea to sing and the winds will let us listen
To lullaby our greasy eyes to sleep.
The sea, the endless sea consoles us in our prison.

O, how far off you are, and how far you’ll always be
My sweet dream of paradise
Where blue skies keep watch over our love
And each thing we’ve loved we’re allowed to love twice
Where the sinking heart can kiss the sky above
O, how far off you are, my love

O, love was like Heaven in those early days
Singing and kissing, asleep in the flowers
Behind the hills above the violins played
Carrying magic through the moonlit hours
O, love was like Heaven in those early days

That innocence I’m always longing for
Is it farther off now than my own end?
Through no human cry can the past be restored
No song I sing will ever bring it back again.
The innocence I’m longing for
The innocence I’m longing for
The innocence I’m longing for
The innocence I’m longing for

[Hear the music here.]

[Original poem here.]