Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'Jean-Paul Belmondo' by Valzhyna Mort

Jean-Paul Belmondo*

it begins with your face of a stone
where lips repose like two seals
in a coastal mist of cigarette smoke
you move through the streets—
listing them
is as useless as naming waves.

                            (that city is so handsome for a reason—)you whisper:
                        it was made out of your rib)

it continues with my
          skidmarked by a dress
body. i stand on the border
on heels like my sixth toes
and show you
where to park.

that very night
lying together
                        in the dogs yard
       —flowers are biting my back!—
you whisper:
          the longer i look on the coins of your nipples
          the clearer i see the Queen’s profile.

for you, body and money are the same
as the chicken and the egg.
the metaphor of “a woman’s purse”
escapes you.
stealing, you like to mumble:
a purse is a purse is a purse is a purse.
a real purse in your hand is worth
two metaphorical purses over your mouth.

they tell me
          you are a body
                        anchored to the shore by its rusting blood.
your wound darkens on your chest like a crow.
i tell them—as agreed—that you are my youth.
an apple that bit into me to forget its own knowledge.

death hands you every new day like a golden coin.
as the bribe grows
it gets harder to turn it down.
your heart of gold gets heavier to carry.

your hands know that a car has a waist
and a gun—a lobe.
you take me where the river once lifted its skirts
and God, abashed with that view,
ordered to cover that shame with a city.

its dance square
shrank by the darkness to the size
of a sleeping infant’s slightly open mouth.
i cannot tell between beggars’ stretched hands
and dogs’ dripping tongues.
you cannot tell between legs—

that dance square is a cage
where accordions grin at dismembered violin torsos.
beggars lick thin air off their lips.
women whirling in salsa slash you
across the chest with the blades
of their skirts soiled with peonies.
Poetry (December 2009).
[image from]
Also read 'crossword', from Poetry.


Sometimes I underestimate serendipity. Reading these two poems this morning just when I was asking myself what I was doing on a campus an hour from any city, with only two towns nearby, where the nothing that happens might be the subject of any one of a hundred East European films from the 70s, my day becomes more bearable.


*Update; this post has nothing to do with the fact that the man was awarded the Palme d'Or . Just coincidence.

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