Five Poems by Georges Castera

BOMB 90 Winter 2005
090 Winter 2005 1024X1024

Discovery of the Strange

Stained by word
and breath of sea
I sleep
with a cut-off hand on my chest
would this be an unfinished poem?
would this be a sheet of paper
brought in on a furious night?
You look at me not understanding
the smile gliding across your face
like the slight sleep of a pebble.


Wild Desire

Child of wise dawns
I had a sweaty pen
sticking like glue on my lectern
the ink coming back into me
through my fingers with the parallel lines
of the veins cut with bad luck
grammatical rules
logarithms and always
always the complicated figures
hosting the isolate

I was worried only
about meeting you even before knowing
through myself
through the complicity of words and storms
that you hadn’t yet been born

I claimed
to carry the moon
on the back of a man
to hide it under my bed
the door stayed closed
to the wandering play of salt and
It’s heavy to carry
A poem where you are not.


Ink Place

In my sleepwalking dailiness
where do the voracious kites
the night no longer answers the howling dogs
but the snarling stars instead.

The mad woman who wanted to shelter
the stars one by one
she sticks them up on the roof
of my poem
she marks the mysterious passage of rain
with a stone
The words are staring her down
to see better in the dark
of my eyes

My shirt drinks blood
On the heart side



To every question you ask of life
our love is the right answer.



This morning
the flowers played dice
on the sidewalk
There’s blood off to the side
the passersby said nothing

A crazy chick
has gone to work on the pillow
And so a public debate
followed on the radio
about the future of children
the rising prices
the guerillas in Latin America

Days pass by
all the surprising
criminal acts
trouble my stormy phrase
the poem becomes a percussion
instrument of the daily
a repercussion instrument
of days without festival or destiny
the evidence
in a future case

I spoke of flowers as one speaks of the dead
with the gravity
of a bare voice
If you think I’m talking about flowers
why forbid
the cerebral dawn that rises
the poetry that you speak through and through?

Translated by Cole Swensen.

Cole Swensen translates contemporary French poetry, fiction, and art criticism. Her translation of Jean Frémon’s Island of the Dead won the 2004 PEN USA award for literary translation. Her own poetry has won a National Poetry Series, the Iowa Poetry Prize, and a Pushcart Prize.

—Georges Castera, poet and artist, was born in Port-au-Prince in 1936. He writes in Creole, French, and Spanish and is the author of numerous books including Le Retour a L’Arbre (Éd. Calfou nouvelle orientation, 1974), Les Cinq Lettres (Imprimerie Le Natal, 1992), Voix de Tete (Éditions Mémoire, 1996), and Brûler (Éditions Mémoire, 1999).

Three Poems by Paul Laraque
When Writing Becomes Smoke by Anthony Phelps
Robert Antoni’s Blessed is the Fruit by Jenifer Berman
Antoni 1

One part quinine; another obeah magic; finally, scissors.

Originally published in

BOMB 90, Winter 2005

Featuring interviews with Vargas-Suarez Universal and Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, Vladimir Cybil and Jerry Philogene, Carlos Eire and Silvana Paternostro, David Scott and Stuart Hall, Evelyne Trouillot, Sibylle Fisher, Carlos B. Cordova and Daniel Flores y Ascencio, Damas “Fanfan” Louis and Michael Zwack, and Peniel Guerrier and Yvonne Daniel. 

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