06.4.2012

Three Prose Poems by Gabriel and Marcel Piqueray

Miracle of the Wolves

     “All the roads to Angoulême are closed!” shouted Bolar, crouching at the edge of the ditch, a black shawl twisted over his thick hair.
     Immense clouds soared across the sky. As the wind’s roar grew and grew, the clouds roiled ferociously. Erect and noble, the trees pushed high into the sky, their high limbs swinging left and right in grand and regal gestures. Torn branches crashed into the bushes, bouncing wildly.
     Suddenly, a group of people appeared in the distance: they too were walking toward Angoulême.
     “They won’t get through!” Bolar roared, “They won’t get through! The roads are blocked! … The roads are blocked! …” He rose, anxiously.
     Meanwhile, the little troop was growing nearer. Bolar thought they must be beggars or, even better, a gang of outcasts or perverts. But soon he was able to make out the features of the new arrivals: lion-headed knights, chimney sweeps sporting red gladioli, gypsies masked with green laurels.
     An old man wearing a cone of wicker for a hat broke from their ranks, his stride thrown off by a club foot, and, drawing up next to Bolar, spoke into his ear, saying: “You had a dream last night, I know it. Don’t deny it, don’t lie to me. It was heresy. You were cycling down the main street of your town, when a black basset-hound charged up behind you and caught you by the heel. Then you got off your bike, threw yourself onto some stairs and thrust the angry, howling beast away with your elbows. Don’t worry, this will all come out – Godless acts and dreams do not go unpunished. Someday, maybe even four or five hundred years from now, some learned person will write down all your crimes in a book.” And the old man danced away to his masked band, with its strange, unruly gestures.
     Just then a sound like the shattering of immense windows came down from high above. Everyone strained their eyes and saw, way up there, something huge; made, it seemed, of a tawny wood. It was an enormous necklace.
     “The Sign!” they yelled, “The Sign!” And they threw themselves down into the dust of the road, brimming over with fear.
     The necklace came down slowly through space. Bolar, eyes glued to the wonder, stepped over the prostrate bodies of the dancers, and, straddling the ditch, strode toward the nearest field. There could be no doubt: it was a necklace of light oak, gigantic, in which were set brilliant diamonds the size of apples. Soon it overwhelmed earth and sky.
     At just that moment, Bolar became a wolf.
     That evening, the same road lay crusted with snow under a sky full of stars, while thousands of wolves loped steadily toward Angoulême. The pealing of bells cut through the air, the signal that the roads leading to the city were now open.
     And the wolves coursed on in their pack, shiny-eyed, each wearing around its neck a little necklace of light oak gleaming with precious stones.

The Secret Mission
               for Margot and Yannick Bruynoghe

     Summer. The sea. A sober, elegant and somewhat artificial watering-hole. A banal enough villa with an entrance fronted by a wide veranda that I cross many times in the company of strangers. At some point, I became friends with them. By fate, by chance, whatever. There was a time when I wasn’t even aware of their existence, these creatures; and then I came to like them, even before I knew them; and now I like them more and more, without ever having foreseen this development, or the possibility of friendship.
     But going back to the city will pull us apart, maybe forever.
     Now, I see it again, where two of the villa’s old stone walls come together at an odd angle: one of those absent-minded faces, away from its familiar troubles and cares. Or I hear a liquid, hearty laughter come at me in all its forthright plainness, through the wind and the light of dawn.
     And I can’t help thinking how resonant the hallway leading into the house — a space by itself static and utterly lifeless – has grown.
     I can’t help thinking how those who have walked there have left their secret, drifting presences –just my imagination, of course. But the pathway will accept its mission, keep those presences assigned to it, hold them deep within itself, with all their movement and their pulsing life.

WHITE DUCKLINGS

Sixteen Odes in Honor of the Mystery of Israel

     Stouffs sweetly puts up with the rabbi who, his throat full of brown sugar, makes a terrifying leap onto the horizontal beam, – bom, in Swedish – landing face-to-face with Ecorce, foul-smelling player with emus, since departed.

     A Cuban rabbi thinks of the woman who grew green onions, and how he Frenched her in the Bois de Boulogne.

     The Latin Quarter show-offs cycle to Varennes.

     If you’re really from Prague, you long for cumin shrimp, and for the twilight to drape its ribbons over the Mustaphas waltzing at the bottom of the swimming hole.

     A scrap-iron dealer bothers his proctologist.
     Exhausted Ellington clutches a quarte-quinte.
     Modern art is great, when you get it.

     Having abandoned her levite, the snout-tickler chooses her fish through the window on Mail Street, laughing.

     The kindly earthworm makes its way across the meadow of the breasted Dianas, back to the grand hotel of Uncle Zevi, who lies dead beneath his sister.

     The small children, afraid of the naked ladies, wish shalom to the green saws of Ra.

Pumped up by an aristocratic lass, the banker struggles against the high winds of the Fallopian tubes.

     The little girl cries over the velvet, moon-embroidered belt in the douff sky of Marneffe.

     The Caymans savor wrapped organs from the Adenauer collection.

     Birehcanes loves his niece, who has come to dwell in his tent
     The trumpets will come and be heard from afar
     His niece often stumbles in his frock-coat
     And the daffodils have bigger hard-ons for her than Birehcanes

     Smah sets a balanite beside her snuffed-out cat
     The hairdresser loiters and inhales the scent of tea
     Young Rectine shows off her naked ass

     The gardener begs his mother to let him enjoy the nuts between the pillars of Hercules of his ein-zwei-drei.

     That pain-in-the-ass woman in the a bathing cap gives a cinnamon enema to the Gobi-dry rectum of the young boy who stammers “Leyi’m plorer.”
                                                            (for Lucy Grauman)

     Al Jolson will always sing the Kol Nidrei for the sparrows of Paris.

     These were sixteen odes in memory of the mystery of Israel.

                                                                                                                                  October 1967

Robert Archambeau (© 2012)