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21 February 2014

Armen Lubin - Poems

Edinburgh Bilingual Library, 1972
"Anthology of contemporary French poetry"
Edited and translated
Graham Dunstan Martin, Lecturer in French, University of Edinburgh
General Editor
A.A. Parker, Professor of Spanish, University of Texas
Editorial Board
C.P. Brand
A.J. Steele

Nothing Round It

WITHOUT A house or lodgings,
No room to sit in any more,
I've build myself a window
With nothing round it.

A window framing matter
With its soft outline.
It opens like an eyelid
And closes with nothing round it.

All the old loves have been stripped off,
But this window without panes
Floats upwards, travels
In its puzzling frame

That is neither flesh nor whitewood
But keeps the exact shape
Of an eye, unblinking, surveying
Banded time, submissive space.

And I stay fastened to the moving frame,
I, its most unnecessary tear
At dead of night, at break of day,
They open to me with nothing round them.

Sunday

NO MORE couples for the streetwalker's room
With its highclass fittings, red curtains, prints here and there
Showing long legs,
White stockings with blue garters,
Big-bellied pillows under canopies.
It's such a fine Sunday the hotel's deserted,
Left to the hoteliers and two caryatids.
Nothing but a great liquid silence,
Startlingly white towels,
Clear droplets dripping,
Running naked from a tap.
Nothing but a great liquid silence
Lapping the frame of a print
Where a half-naked beauty-queen reclines
Amid a group of solemn, arty-looking men.
They take the measure of her bosom,
While out of respect for the queen
And the reigning dynasty,
The Swiss guard about to be massacred
Sheathe their glittering bayonets.

A Paris Love-Affair

THE YEAR of my first, my greatest love
Was the year of the luminous clocks.
It was the year they stood at every crossroad
With a big fire inside
And Paris was one radiant brightness,

A brightness I deserved.

Afterwards it rained three days out of three,
We walked in the wet dark
We walked, walked by the Seine
But if there are hours I remember
They are those incised within me
In black on legendary white,
In black beyond description.

The Stowaway

THE HOSPITAL welcomes the cripples of the fair,
Those who placed bets on looking-glass games.

Its welcome is a knockdown blow,
Illness lays even the rebellious low.

Even lost childhood suddenly reborn,
Even childhood weighing up the pros and cons

To know if darkness will be finalized.
From down here, our struggles seem immense.

Immense the ceiling, immense the black nightlight
Adrift, swallowed by the sea-swell.

But like a good sailor who can coil a rope
Pain handles its man to make him writhe.

It winds him in a ball, knees to chin,
It winds him in a ball on the lighter's deck,

Till he is coiled the captain's way,
With a hole in the middle for a stowaway.

Midnight

GUSTS OF wind jostle the removers
Whose furniture bursts from the forest fortissimo.
In hospital, silence spreads thicker than elsewhere
When Man's unfurnished to the last degree.

There's no back country for Man,
Supine Man. He's a creature of surfaces,
Dragged down from his heights, tugged up from his depths;
In hospital, walls are walls more than elsewhere.

Nothing can happen now but one last murderous assault
Gumming up the eyelids to force them to succumb,
Except ice laying down a good coating
Over pain, to cauterize the mouth.

I keep mum, and cling to hopes of compromise.
We'd be ready to forsake our bodies
If they weren't so alone on stage now;
When you mention the soul it's always midnight.