from Noontimes Won

Tristan Tzara

Snatched from the River

bright is the echo of the bold springs
that the raven muddles into the earth
two times a day it’s what he wants
and the salts of your fields
large limestone caryatids
pigment the destinies of your voice
so many times fallen to crumbs
on the porcelain roads

disparate resources
of quick graces
exquisite subsidiaries
you aren’t any help
you tell lies on the fingers
the deceptive beauty
at the turn of the woods
who is it who is it

haberdashery of pain
among the wanting
tuesday friday
who is it what is it
the wheel of the mill

with an air of uncertainty
living day to day as prey
to pretty dreams pretty
miserable light
on the necktie of the hanged
and tossed in the streets
one foot in the mud of the tomb
who is it who is it
gloved in the root of time
the weight from the pedestal to the arms
the village madwoman
cries plaintively to the river
mario mario
two times a day
she comes to the parapet
crying mario mario
and goes
as if she hadn’t ever
and it’s for this
that the market takes place
one time each day mario
and again one time each day mario
market where the marchers
and the growers and the sellers
and the fried fish
move through the city
crying mario mario
and the power of the single-storey

Civil War Song

snows still we are deceived
pile up the drunkenness

captains of fog
with hoarder’s eyes
bushes and women
drowned in their laughter

hidden in the bagpipes
the bitter strata of profound events

crackle little lights
into the damp indolence
of fleeting fiefdoms
under the cover of words

nothing left but a leap wake the visionaries
to jump the flame over the breastwork of rye

snows snows cover us
night wind noon wind
stones always and again
the knives of the hail
death runs quickly youth is lighter
than the earth of those we carry in ourselves

so now the beloved
come begging the silence
the flesh of lips
stuck to the lips of the gravestones

i’m the one who has written this poem
in the solitude of my room
while in those for whom i weep
death is sweet there they abide

Cash on the Nail

the void blows across the street
sounds into the dark rooms
whatever the meaning of things
by which the cold classifies appearances
the sea looks squarely at us
and across the ivory of our eyes
like beasts in training
we give in to each others’ eyes
and follow one another through the mist
the tenderness and the friendship

i told the windows’ shadow
underneath the eyelid of the tree
that a slumber for more gold
took the wing from its flame
i told the time that runs
on its road to ruin
sad mines gigantic laughs
barns smashed and stolen for ships
grimacing wells the silences of the world
old folks anchored in distress
lovers children future executioners
blood mothers budding mothers
or trembling forests of pressing pasts
it’s always just one language
scattered along the fluted flank
from the treasure at the heart of the skies
of these men that we are
language of solitude

to cross the countries black with people
black is the world
its underclothes showing
the catacomb secrets
the waves from the sweethearts blown all out of proportion
the storefronts on the open lips
on the snow structures
the lifeless menageries
in the rain the honeymoons
and the honey of the memory
and underneath the weight of the cities
it’s the same blind speech
a thousand vocal smithereens conceal
that which returns in splinters
the pack of things repulsive

but at our darkened doors
throng the seas the recklessness
of rams written
on the daisy ice
in the rooms dead or quick
deaf tribes of intentions
in long lines that the lamps
have led into the tombs
it’s the avenue for the poor
to our skeletal tanks
lying in wait for the birth of the voices
the shadow unwinding
where no one meets shadow
or tenderness or friendship

On the Threshold

vintners of broad bursts
and you hills where the trains climb
astonishment of the citadels
that the ant in arms keeps watch
like smoke at the margin of man
the feigned reason to follow you

pipe between its teeth the sky on fire
chews the thyme of lost keys
and the elfin eggs
litter the road with pruning shears
no exit teeth clenched
will the words return drunk

was it the shadow threatening
we would never know
if the more or less talkative
to death to the newborn
laughs as he paces the room
or if he weeps what falls
heavy sleep of meadows
it’s not the very end
even if the wing beats faster
than it manages to pull away
from this center where the star
nails down the weight of one malevolent death

certainties certainties

translated from the French by Heather Green