Three Poems from Côté Ciel / Skyside
They’re finished. The wasps. A flash. Storm of poison.
I couldn’t keep tiptoeing, negotiating space. Finished, too: that steady
work performed beside me,
with me. Their company. The survivors are still laboring, laboring—
a programmed diligence,
disturbed by loneliness.
I watch them drop, little leaves. O what astonishing blood.
All things need connection. Need interferences. Need names, titles;
need an innate utility.
Art alone cannot manage.
I devoted my life to neither painting nor the page. I relinquished it,
rather, to this peculiar condition:
living. I understood the inaccessible brilliance, the savage side of
that choice. If I often wound myself,
if nearly everything is fated to be obstacle, it’s only symptom of a desire
to taste without teeth, to rush forward without wings.
The hardest thing is when one’s head has abandoned the self for the
One must have a full eye.
For a little while: joy, the madness of trees
everywhere, standing in for the sky’s warmth, which is eaten raw.
Try to find the right shade to represent meat; green water to drop
in the book and the forest.
Lines, birds overhead. Commotion of insects indoors and out.
My lateness stretches a rubber band,
or whatever it is that spurs my heart.
I wait languidly, the door to the studio watched by an army of wasps.
Understand if this need of wild space is a strength or a flight;
if this separation cracks me or grounds me.
First published in 2019 by La Lettre volée as part of its “Poiesis” collection; The Offing thanks the publisher for freely giving the right to publish these excerpts.