MAORE (From Mayotte)
Walter Ruhlmann ————————————————————
This EditionFirst Published by Lapwing Publications c/o 1, Ballysillan Drive Belfast BT14 8HQ email@example.com www.lapwingpoetry.com Copyright ÂŠ Walter Ruhlmann 2013 All rights reserved The author has asserted her/his right under Section 77 of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Acknowledgements and thanks to the editors and publishers of the following works in which some of these poems were first published: Ygdrasil (Canada), Cyclamens and Swords (USA), Caught In The Net (UK), The Blinking Cursor (UK), Magnapoets (Canada), Subtletea (USA), Revival (Ireland), Aesthetica Magazine (UK), 2008, Rain Dogs (UK),2012, Inclement (UK), 2011, Thunder Press (USA) 2012 and A Little Poetry (USA) 2012 Previously published collections, anthologies, translations: L’orchidee noctambule (The Night Orchid) – Editions Press-stances 1995 Rêves de l’ici… (Dreams from the Here…) – self-published 1996, translated into English and re-published in 2011, mgv2_publishing A part ca, quoi d’autre? – translation in French of the collection Besides That, What Else? by Teresinka Pereira – IWA 1996 Rex et le cyclope (Rex and the Cyclop) – self-published in 1997, translated into English and re-published in 2011, mgv2_publishing Troubadour Nonchalant (Nonchalant Troubadour) – Editions Press-Stances 1997 Les observatoires nocturnes (Night Observatories) – self-published 1997 L’horizon des peupliers (The Horizon of the Poplar Trees) – self-published 1998 Devant le monde, le poete (Facing the World, The Poet) – an anthology – Editions Alzieu, 2000 John and His Dogs and Other Poems – translation into English of the collection Jean et ses chiens, and all the poems published in journals in English since 2005 – mgv2_publishing, 2011 Les chants du malaise (The Songs of Unease) – RAL,M issue 71 – Lettres Terres Francophonies, 2011 Theology – translation of the collection Theologie – Blue & Yellow Dog, 2012 The Pendulum Chilblains – translation of the collection Les engelures pendulaires – e.ratio, 2012 Oxydations (Oxidations) – L’Etre, 2012 iii
Clasped . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Encounter at Sakouli . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Whales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chaïma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Back to Shit Hole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . An Awkward Tribute to Charles B. . . . . . . The Bweni from Dembeni . . . . . . . . . . . . . Moya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cave Canem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gang Banga Bang . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flash Back . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dad’s Eightieth Birthday – April 16th 2011 Ylang . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Monsoon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Proud Bweni . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ibsame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What the Fundi Said . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sandia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stolen Star . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Thought of Normandy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No-Beach Afternoon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Saluvas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Austral Winter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . You Will . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Epiphany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Dark Side of Me . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mrs Pepperpot’s Out Shopping . . . . . . . . . Tropical Depression . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Escaping Lying . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chocolate Coated Biscuits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fragments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9 10 11 12 14 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 24 26 27 28 30 32 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46
Fatalistic Song . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nineteen-Ninety-Six Recollection . . . . . . . Tracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Craig . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Silly Twit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . George & The Dragon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Phallocentric Verses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
49 50 52 52 53 54 55 58
Bibliography: a Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
CLASPED I live in a hot-water bottle surrounded by waves surrounded by leaves surrounded by thieves. It is like time has stopped between the Golden Ages and the Dark Times. The variegation cannot erase the suffocation the breath the soul can only see the vapid land despite ochres yellows oranges greens & blues. The heat the dampness of the place. The beating of the chants. Drums are on every night. Dogs bark. Cats mew & converge towards where food or peace are. I live in a bottle firmly sealed full of salt and dust rotting inside & outside. I live on a boat floating to nowhere water everywhere wherever where is.
ENCOUNTER AT SAKOULI Sakouli where I saw a turtle for the first time the animal was like dancing under water. I followed it diving under water to see where it would lead me. It just kept on circling swirling under water playing a game I did not understand and yet comprehend in the inner most part of my brains. Uncertain where it would drive me I let the turtle dive deep under water deeper than I could pretend following it.
THE WHALES The lagoon, the barrier reef, once a year they come nesting in its peaceful waters far from the sharks or all the other animals living in the ocean that would feed on their off springs. Fat and soft. The lagoon, the barrier reef, once a year they disembark and sweat on Maore beaches pouring down sun cream or sun oil on their skin. Spreading their fat on the sand. Blue whales White whales have the same instinct: they want peace and loaf.
CHAĂ?MA She is a black beauty - they say black is beautiful; donâ€™t they? Who are they anyway to be so certain of such a prejudicial say? Anyway she is a black beauty and knows it perfectly well and uses it to live or pay the man who brought her here in his canoe with many others like her - or not. One day the police took her to bring her back on to the island she was born. Alone. Barely fifteen. No dime. Nothing at all except the clothes she had on her when she wandered in the forest along the road or wherever she was. She said she would come back as soon as she could find a way to pay for it.
She did. Faster than expected and embarked on a canoe that should have crossed the canal, alas! It did not. Cha誰ma saw the mangrove become ether and drowned.
BACK TO SHIT HOLE When will I be registered nine seven four? Driving my convertible two o six across the lava fields along the ocean up the circuses through the island I love the most. I remember the tanned faces smiling broadly to greet the zoreilles1 landing at Roland Garros airport, trekking at Cilaos, bathing around Saint-Rose. When will I leave shit hole, misery, Maore? Where nothing can satisfy me any more. Pretending everything is going to be ok. I hate it here and am in dire needs to leave. 1 Name given to the inhabitants of mainland France by the Creoles from Reunion island.
AN AWKWARD TRIBUTE TO CHARLES B. ‘When the low and heavy sky weighs like a lid…’ - He sang. I remember these nights up in my room reading Baudelaire’s Spleen listening mooning brooding singing humming watching dreaming of islands lost in the middle of the ocean – He sang too. But now… The air conditioning is on. 40°C outside. 20°C inside. My body – I can seldom recognize – at ease, as peaceful as a corpse, covered by a single white linen bed cloth which weighs so much, even more than a lid rather like a pan, a cauldron or the whole buffet.
The air conditioning blowing, buzzing like buzz the grasshoppers the spiders the beetles the flies the black wasps the centipedes creeping nightmares. I hear them all buzzing in my ears like gigantic bells or hellâ€™s angels.
THE BWENI1 FROM DEMBENI She sits smiling all day selling her greens. She is quite old but looks ageless. She is quite round and fat just like a brown and big pumpkin - just like that. She wears worn out clothes yet looks spotless. She sits all day amongst her sisters all coming from the north all coming from Anjouan MohĂŠli or Grande-Comore and they sell fruit and vegetables along the road. Whenever you come back from Sakouli it is a pleasant view before going back home. Letâ€™s have a stop at the turn of the road and wave at the Bweni from Dembeni.
1 In Shimaore bweni means lady, woman
MOYA If I could make it all sublime I would say let’s go to Moya. The twin beaches set on the land on the other side – Nyambo Titi – where the genesis of Mayotte is at your fingers’ reach. The semi moons, the half craters where the ocean splashes and white horses come like sheers. The turtles land there to lay their eggs in the womb of this white sandy shelter coral dust inside chalk walls like a circus an amphitheatre staging the ether. Behind this ageless place the full crater Dziani Zaha – Lake Dziani – where the browns of the land mingle with various shades of blues and greens up the sky down left the stagnant water down right the ocean and the horizon ochre soil all around. Moya where quietness is at rest only disturbed twice a day by the air-planes taking on & off. Magpies and dogs may feast on chelonian offspring. Where – at last – anyone can find solace and dream this island is safe. 18
CAVE CANEM They wander around the mangrove or in the deep forest in daylight to escape death. When night comes hunger making its way through their skinny bodies they get out to escape their humiliating fate. If any is caught it might just end guts out ripped up dismantled on the road watched by so called naive eyes children teenagers even adults both males and females who would find solace in seeing one of them flattened like a mere insect. Dogs beware some people are a living nightmare.
GANG BANGA BANG Gang bang bang bang Take her to your banga1 show your big, brown banana shake her shaker shake it before her eyes inside your gang bang banga you and your banga mates have made so proud gestures and daring gesticulations and articulations hands and mouths and tongues and limbs and bamboo sticks waving like banana tree leaves flapping in the wind Gang bang bang bang banga gaga how many boys live in this casa? I guess when no bwenita gives them her flavaâ€™ them boys still kindaâ€™ find pleasaâ€™.
1 Banga: the hut where the male teenagers and young adults live.
FLASH BACK to Christophe
It all started silly over two years ago on a pillow. You had met Martial earlier and been moody most of the day. What could have been more exciting than leaving France? You said you wanted things to change in your life. I thought you meant us splitting up. You smiled – at last – and explained Martial was leaving to work in the Caribbean. So we slept over it and dreamt and we kept on dreaming and speculating on and on until it was clear we’d failed. You crashed and decided to re decorate the room as a revenge - bitchy life. We tried again anyway and won a one way flight to Maore on April Fools’ Day.
DAD’S EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY – APRIL 16TH 2011 It is dad’s eightieth birthday today and I am sixty hundred miles away. He has been building a new terrace all week and I was not here to help out. The sky kept low all day while I was trying to keep my mood as light as the dragon fly circling above the grass – thick and green. Now the mango tree leaves stay still as the clouds race through the sky and the fluffy flying foxes fly. Anti-theft alarms could be heard all day and I imagined these people coming back from the stores – for surely none went to the beach in today’s monsoon – finding out their places had been visited. My mind crossed the sixty-hundred-mile gap between me and my next of kin busy in the kitchen listening to his favourite radio show on a late Saturday morning waiting for the family to gather around his latest dessert.
I had nothing to eat today. I watched the heavy drops falling down from the sky fast as rockets, transparent knives piercing my eyes, my heart, reflecting my mind mirroring my invisible tears monitoring my fears. I could not even read. Apart from calling him, I did fuck all todayâ€Ś and it is dadâ€™s eightieth birthday.
YLANG They probably saved you from a life of vagrant from a life of unrest at best they certainly saved you from death. When we came to get you you were no bigger than a yarn a hairy fist hairier than this though. That was last October you have now grown bigger. Your fur is turtle-shell coloured and when you’ve had dinner you walk to the window and stare at whatever catch your cat’s eyes in the darkness of the terrace, of the tropical dusk, of your unconsciousness I even think you look like you are high and gone somewhere around where even the magpies and the flying foxes can’t fly. We come back from the beach you have been out all day wandering only you know where on the ground lie the remains of a gecko whose head you have torn and eaten yet you still want supper.
They had named you after some Indian goddess of war â€“ and they were right. We changed this name into the flower of this isle Ylang scented poisonous she-cat claw the sofa gnaw the settee plough our hands when you sleep still and we disturb you.
MONSOON The rain drops are gigantic a shower in daylight a sauna when it stops. It may rain down in Koungou and be as dry as the Kalahari up there in Mamoudzou heights. The rivulets carry dust and soil and gravels and cans and wastes to the lagoon along the road cracked and slit-opened full moon craters filled with dirty water. You can even see children in shorts standing playing running yelling in the rain showering in this blessing from the skies.
PROUD BWENI Draped in your saluva1 you stand on the side-walk you wait for a taxi that may not even stop. Yet you stand on this road with your laundry on your head and you child in one hand a bag full of manioc in the other and tired you stand and stare at the lagoon or the land on the other side – maybe you stare at the tide. Where is your husband? Do you only have one? Where is the father of this child? Does he even have one? Have you been a errand? Have you sweated enough now? I know you stare not to cry. I know you can never smile and you look so proud – bweni – you look so proud, when you stare up like that, when you stare at the sky.
A large piece of cloth with which women and girls dress themselves.
IBSAME She was lying on the beach – was it in N’Gouja or was in in Moya? Can you remember now? She was lying there anyway and she has kept lying up to now. You spotted her because you found she was quite plain and knew she was helpless you may say desperate you guessed – from the colour of her skin white as the whitest snow you’ve never seen not even on the Choungui1 – that she could sustain you as long as you could entertain that mzungu2. You asked her if she needed help with her bag, she wanted you to spread sun cream on her back, she had a soft spot for blacks, she had a large hammock, she could offer you that fancy cell phone and that trendy shirt and that speedy scooter and her most private parts.
1 One of the peaks in Mayotte. 2 White in Shimaore
She answered yes to all these questions no hesitation and as you walk with her holding her arm, holding your breath as she kisses you, holding you in detention, you remember the sand â€“ its colour and its feel â€“ and you feel that her lips though blood-red and sticky are just as abrasive.
WHAT THE FUNDI SAID I was walking along the road to Cavani1 the sun was hot hitting me hard I had a cap but the heat was so strong I was sweating like a zebu – I had indeed walked past plenty. In front of me walking slowly so slowly that I could have never walked like that without having a syncope was a Fundi2. I walked past him and breathed loudly – and nervously. He hailed to me, I turned I thought he was yelling at the other hajji but he was not. He looked me in the eyes although I had my sunglasses and said: “Of course we have mangoes pineapples and leeches. Yes, we can spend the day in the shade of large banana trees, baobabs, mangroves, pines or the coco trees. Between rocks on the shores the strip of white beaches allow us any time to lay and sweat and dream. Are we contemplative? You are over active. We are only the natives of a land of plenty.
You are coming down here from the far, cold Europe only a few of you try to understand that our days have to start early in the morning when the prayer vibrates from the top of the mosque and irradiates us inside the murky huts so that it wakes us up and pass peacefully slow until the dusky call. You believe in no one not even in yourselves we know that you don’t trust in our capacities. In the darkest of time – ages ago – you would show off bits of tanned glass to our ancestors they would give you their men or prisoners of wars. You would take them down here and make them work to death. Now you show off cell phones internet, TV sets and you keep all the rest to yourselves.” He never smiled to me neither he shouted his words were tough enough to pin me on the road in the heat of the sun somewhere near Cavani.
1 A district of Mamoudzou. 2 A Fundi is a wise man who knows and teaches the Koran, primordial in the culture and daily life of Mayotte.
SANDIA Sand Sandy Sandia Santander wonâ€™t have you in her womb you left your remote shores in Sada1 leaving your blood and a child in a sanatorium Sand Sanctum Sandia maybe California like the other one sang the red-haired girl who plays tunes on keys sanguine oranges and ripe grapefruit Los Angeles, San Diego and my blood-red heart in your hand. Although Sand Sandy Sandia you know I am what I am half carmine catamite half scarlet carmelite just like San Sebastian whose martyrdom was once found in a corner of San Francisco A tender heart who can only admit this comforting elopement between similar sexes when both are penises, both driven to explore the same hole, a mole that can only be held once in a while in its lair.
1 Village on the western coast of Mayotte 32
Sand Sandy Sandia you know I am a sans culotte a man of no importance so now keep you pretense it would be wasting time and the clock is ticking time is passing you know, so spend an hour with me and keep it mum sweetie.
THE STOLEN STAR One day in class Tariki came to me and said “Sir, can you see my shirt?” He was wearing a shirt with the Comoran flag and the word clandestine in bold green capitals. “How many stars are there?” There are four on the flag sheltered by a half-moon symbolizing Islam. “Sir, can you see my shirt?” Of course I could see it and knew what the boy meant. Mayotte is one of them and that one was stolen – so think the Comorans. A star stolen by France stolen by occupants – so think the Comorans.
A THOUGHT OF NORMANDY The sun is setting behind the clouds dangling above Kaweni heights and in a second of pleasure the west wind from Africa comes dancing on my skin to remind me of the place I live in. I cannot say the flowers we have here are like asperities in the landscape. The flying foxes circle up there chasing any flies or dragons at the end of their existence. They dance above the mango tree the leaves have started falling down â€“ yes, it is winterâ€™s time here! I suddenly think of my home country and remember the fine weather, the gentle breeze sometimes bringing white, light clouds shaped like giant sheep above the Atlantic and pouring a few drops, a drizzle, a shower, down in Normandy.
NO-BEACH AFTERNOON to Christophe
The gracefulness with which the nervousness from which the fondness for the dreams emerges eases the painful plaint urging me to undo what cannot be undone yet. The selfishness sizzles, the eyes are merciless, fancy is so heavy a dress to wear. These afternoons in front of our screens blurred images in the dusk: we are back to back and are torn apart in that apartment – this damned flat on the third level below ground zero. You keep on dreaming about fancy places – exotic and remote – will you understand at last we belong to where we were born and need to go home.
SALUVAS Today the girls were all wearing their saluvas – all flying colours and light drapes. I heard them talk about a wedding or some fancy celebration. I had no clues and I still don’t know what it meant. Yet, these dresses all women wear there in Mayotte are like flowers covering bruises and dark pains. I admired Doulfahou’s red suns, surrounded by black spots running away not to be eaten. Nassurati – though prettier – was wearing a plain pink piece of plain cloth. Yasmina’s blue flowers or leaves danced on the brownish dress she wore. Faiza’s was green with strange shapes going orange, going purple. I smiled broadly when I saw Hachimia come in. She had something closer to a shopping net than a scarf on her head, covered in bright orange like a security guard’s brace. Raouanti was an Indian princess – all salmon pink and eastern pride. The most beautiful though was Sayra – she walked like an African queen in her navy blue saluva constellated with brown petals.
AUSTRAL WINTER Well in my well my ditch my hole my pit armpits swelling the wettest hole in hell and some sunrise the body stiff in this diffuse land of colours odours vapours green shades and dark brown patches. Damned place harmful dampness, thickness, leaves leaving branches of tropical trees crabs wandering in the mangrove between worn tyres and dead bodies of dogs and cats and rats and molested girls. Not so well well dwelling here or there the light afar is coming near the stale bread in my hands rotting slowly but certainly one day from cavities, from craters, from its depth turquoise demons and sprites will emerge.
YOU WILL to Christophe
It could have been all wonderful with the turquoise sea and the sun always high banging on our heads dangling in the sky up high. It could have been a dream alive despite shanties, breaking-ins and attacks in spite of you being jobless and not finding a reason to stay here for ever. Many poisons surround us and wonâ€™t leave us unharmed but tell me you will be there in two-monthâ€™s time along this road we started walking on together. Your smile, your eyes and grumpy mood in the morning in the car at work and whenever you have a contrariety worries scalping the light azure lingering in your dreams.
EPIPHANY We came back to this pit late August the hairy sprites have now emerged as I predicted earlier the sweat left us undone and we will no longer be the same any more. I watched the sun dancing above the horizon, the moon hanged on high over the lagoon its reflection blinking at me and teasing me as it used to – ages ago – when I was up there in that room reading my most infinite fears beside the casual candles’ light. What light will come to show us the path? What are ten months in a life time? What are six months in our life? Our common sense, our existence, our feelings were split a month from then but the centipede on the floor, the latest burglary experienced, the riots and the knives between these kiddies’ teeth eager to fight, willing to kill, barking at anything or anyone that seems too white, had us make up our minds as fast as the fastest thief fleeing our house.
THE DARK SIDE OF ME I see things I don’t want to see. I hear noises I don’t want to hear. Then another side of me comes knocking at my door before night surrounds me. Within the shades of the Choungui the most infinite fears gather enhanced by the heat and the moist air and the ravines between the worlds. Our thoughts, our words so unlike-wise. A little bit of her early in the morning and the hope that soon the plane will fly me back. Your smile now and then, the grain of your skin on my skin. The cat purring next to your head resting on the pillow drenched by your tears, filled with your fears, where your sweat pearls drained your anger and your anxiety away in the wrinkles of the bed sheets. I drove my other self back to the door. Sometimes I think I should just keep it closed, sometimes I guess I shouldn’t let it in, but then what fury would abduct me?
MRS PEPPERPOT’S OUT SHOPPING The lady pushes a trolley nearly as tall as she, her high-heels won’t make her look taller. She picks items and checks the prices – the labels were all mixed up. “Maybe bananas tonight.” She’s fed up with the brown ones. She’s been tasting them for so long now. Flour mixed with almond and chocolate powder – her glasses slip, she treads on them, “Damn it!” How to see the contents of this can? How to know where to find beans? How to write a cheque at the check out? How to drive back home safely? How to recognize the key that opens the door of the house? How to check if no evil spirit has found shelter in the fridge? How to find the fridge and store the goods at the right place, in the right time? She leaves the half-full trolley aside, spreads her velvet wings and as a tropical bat – a tropical nun – in disarray, she flies away.
TROPICAL DEPRESSION Cut your hair shave your head have this pistol loaded make the bed in which you slept last night inflate your thoughts with the hot air of this island light thoughts dark thoughts sunny thoughts loony thoughts wet thoughts wet dreams soaking the bed sheets at four in the morning. Entranced bodies swaying, the tree limbs brush your brains. As the princess could feel the pea, you canâ€™t even bear the weight of a wet bath towel on your chest.
ESCAPING LYING While I was lying there on the air bed, the heat making my sweat pearl, the air-conditioning was inefficient, the fairy hummed in my ears and He was ironing next door. While I was correcting my students’ work, smiling broadly at the thought of the way they looked as they read the questions not that they were too difficult, not that they couldn’t answer them, not that I didn’t do my best as to have them pass it the test they took was about New York, a place I would like to dwell in, none of them would probably ever go there, I haven’t yet… I also thought about the night, the gloomy song preceded a lighter one and made me want to cry. I thought about that time a candle by my side, already tobacco addicted, Yann was still one of us and other songs would then make me spread on these beds of torture.
CHOCOLATE COATED BISCUITS One month after coming back to France
These afternoons I come back from work thinking living was hard fear was restless and I dip this wheat-flour biscuit coated with milk chocolate in my cup of white tea sugar free. How am I supposed to loose these few pounds after the wine foie gras oysters champagne smoked salmon bread beef turkey veal cheese cream potatoes beans white and green and mushrooms garlic more bread ice cream cider cognac whiskey hundreds of cigarettes smoked in the night during the day and chocolate dark milk white hazels walnuts pistachios almonds pralines? Yes Maore seems so far away we are separated by these thousand-mile-long aisles of food it lacks so much sometimes. Yet in a corner of my brain and in folders I keep images and stains of this not-so-long-ago past of mine.
FRAGMENTS F1. He gives himself pleasure with a mobile phone magic phone magic tone.
F2. Thereâ€™s someone at the window hiding behind the banana tree.
F3. We knew it would be hot. Weâ€™d heard about the fact that gaps between us and them prevailed.
FATALISTIC SONG Constantly pressured in the rooms of abstraction blood stains the tiles of the floor. You don’t know how to be reassured. This estate agent wouldn’t let you in. He laughed when you entered the office wearing your jeans jacket and dusty trainers. Hell can take any shape it likes. The fat baker sitting on her bench asking you questions with an accent coming from Dickens’s times or even before that left you undone, incapable of more than just wander in the city of salt. When they had you settled in this red armchair scarlet throne where no kings had placed their siege, they watched your face, scrutinized your thighs, observed your chest and maybe glanced at your crotch. They said you were not bad looking after all and dressed you with a shirt, a bow and many undertones. You served, you smiled, you said yes ma’am, no ma’am, just bear with me a second ma’am, I’ll be right back! You lied. All these infamies and dark conspiracies, the humiliations and sterile depressions have been muses abusing the fuses in your brains, they’ve been like jewels, like gems, you shove on the sheets, hidden in the alcove.
BATH She wanted to lie down next to me. She did. I said she ought to know there were no chances; she took hers. I remember this silent night in my flat up there up the Plantation Shop Bath Nineteen Ninety-six. Fanny was her name she once met the Native and shared his wrath against the wall of uncertainties that went up between us. Andy and Paul were cutting plants, tidying the shop, clearing things, counting money. When she went downstairs she helped herself with a cup of coffee the smell of it filled up the kitchen. I let her go I had to she had to go and there were no other ways.
The Native would come back shortly after. He had been out all night. Staring at the sky, talking to the moon, to the stars, his fingers touching the darkest patch of the ethereal net up there. He entered the room I was still lying on my bed. He lied next to me. The wine vapours still lingered in his hair, on his clothes, on his pale skin. I touched his back. He said I ought to know there were no chances; I got up and went to work.
NINETEEN-NINETY-SIX RECOLLECTION I never thought I would miss England so much the fresh water from the Pennines and the waiters waiting in line in the shadows of infinite pleasures through the windows, by the check out. I never thought the icy air and the drizzle would feel so far away from my needs. Walking across the Tower Bridge and in a moment of torment opening the doors of a pub The White Castle William IV or hiding somewhere around Canal Street in the north of the country waiting for the night to pass out in the arms of Brother Doomsday.
TRACY Tracy could walk along the hall pacing up & down corridors her heavy breast was in my dreams and though she wanted me so much I never gave her anything so soft as my deepest feeling.
CRAIG You were born a shaman though you never spelled it right. You had grown hair and a beard but you shaved when it rained. You used to talk to trees and painted animals but your art kept silent when time came to prove yourself an artisan. You had met an angel in a city of dusk through white walls he could walk and entertain you all night long. I remember now it all comes clearer now the Avon river banks the million times you sank vampiring the night when you suckled the wine bottle. Did you leave you clay pipe you used to walk around every night behind? Manchester sheltered me for a while I also missed your chest but then other shamans and archangels came dancing with me and blew on my pathologies.
SILLY TWIT Lofty pleasure softy leisure inadequate caricature my ultimate mate knows his left hand from his right foot. Ankle and lime Angle and pine Angel so fine so fine a wine stolen from a Cretan merchant hidden somewhere in the vineyard or the orchard the night orchid.
GEORGE & THE DRAGON I once slept with a dragon the breath was vile the skin was rough the sex abstruse and the night went on at the speed of lightning astray the devotion could not erase the suffocation the smell of sulphur. I once had George on my pillow the dragon had gone long ago George and the dragon had a fight the fight went on and the felon the sprite that dreamt there by my side killed the dragon. One day I dreamt of a nation on the verge of falling into oblivion I packed up George and the dragon and left the place in extinction.
MEN A(F)T(ER) WORK There was snow on the road the men all around the car park were ready to download the trucks. The icy winter air was felt it cut our faces my belt too tight clamped my waist and I could not wait to undress. Yet a job had to be done the street lights would not suffice but the trucks were waiting to be done with. The signal was given we all gathered and one of us opened the back hatch of the first truck. The other one would wait. Biceps and triceps bulged. Ten tool boxes a few axes many key rings in card boxes shovels and plants armours and pants empty coffins six bags of pins baked beans in tins and canned sardines.
The group of men breathing in breathing out our breaths condensing in this wintry air. After two trucks we all got paid and some of us went for a pint down the pub. I stayed with Ben Harry and Joe. Ben was married had two children and a mortgage. Harry had just been freed from jail and Joe had not said a single word. Benâ€™s wife called him Harry left too Joe stayed with me and we had another pint of beer. Coming out of the public house in the frozen air after this February nightâ€™s work was an invitation for both to decamp to my lair.
PHALLOCENTRIC VERSES The French for dick is bite but don’t you get it wrong we don’t bite it at all, we bit it in our mouths. I know my phonetics: swallow the extra [a] to leave the [i] lonely, erect as a penis, straight as a prick. Not so straight am I when cock is the totem French revere this bird – arrogant poultry – as snobbish as they are proud of their knobs. Though pine works for it too, it denotes tininess but it follows the same uttering rule. Imagine all the pines in South-Western France metronome in the wind, gigantic matches – retracted foreskin pins. I love to play with words as much as I love to play with dicks – tricks are my favourite game as much as men queueing impatiently, tumid derricks in hand.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: A SELECTION 1.L’orchidée noctambule [The Night Orchid] - Editions Press-stances, 1995 2. Rêves de l’ici… - Dreams from the Here… - self-published 1996, translated into English and republished by mgv2>publishing, 2011 3. A part ça, quoi d’autre? - translation into French of the chapbook Besides That, What Else? by Teresinka Pereira - IWA, 1996 4. Fireflies - IWA, 1996 5. Space Unconsciousness - IWA, 1997 6. Rex et le cyclope - Rex and the Cyclop - self-published 1997, translated into English and republished by mgv2>publishing, 2011 7. Troubadour Nonchalant [Nonchalant Troubadour] - Editions Press-Stances, 1997 8. Les observatoires nocturnes [Night Observatories] - self-published, 1997 9. L’horizon des peupliers [The Horizon of the Poplar Trees] self-published, 1998 10. Devant le monde, le poète - an anthology - Editions Alzieu, 2000 11. John and His Dogs and Other Poems - translation into English of his collection Jean et ses chiens followed by other poems published in various journals and magazines in the English language since 2005 mgv2>publishing, 2011 12. Les chants du malaise [The Songs of Unease] - RAL,M issues 73/74 Lettres Terres Francophonies, July 2011 13. Theology - translation into English of his collection Théologie - Blue & Yellow Dog, issue 7, Winter 2012 14. The Pendulum Chilblains - translation into English of his collection Les engelures pendulaires - e.ratio 15, February 2012 15. Oxydations [Oxidations] - L’Etre, March 2012 16. Les engelures pendulaires [The Pendulum Chilblains] - Les cahiers de poésie 32, December 2012. 17. Etranges anges anglais [Stange English Angels] - mgv2>publishing, December 2012
L A P W I N G PUB L I C A T I O N S
Walter Ruhlmann works as an English teacher, edits mgversion2>datura and runs mgv2>publishing. Walter is the author of several poetry chapbooks and e-books in French and English and has published poems and fiction in various printed and electronic publications world wide. He is also assistant editor at Poet&Geek (UK). Nominated for Pushcart Prize once. His blog http://thenightorchid.blogspot.fr/
“We […] won a one way flight to Maore on April Fools’ Day.” Flash Back excerpt, Walter Ruhlmann, Maore
The Lapwing is a bird, in Irish lore - so it has been written indicative of hope. Printed by Kestrel Print Hand-bound at the Winepress, Ireland