Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Pierre Alferi

PUT A VOICE TO HER PROSE

Put
A date to this face
A price on this memory
They’re floating in the indirect
Light of communication
They are euphemisms
A dream
We only saw
The smoke, too late to put a word
To the Thing
Hostage of litotes.


Put a voice to her prose
Said the ad. You’d have called it
A spoonerism. The tarty blond image
Goes neither with the second noun
Nor with the first. But the invite’s cunning
Even when you know that this body, these mass-typed
Promises, this organ ready to make you pay
With loving words early as six A.M. 
On your credit card belong to at least
Three different people. The game
Is in the countess’s album fit a head
On a chest, legs into typografolkloresque costumes
And all the cards turn over. Put
A date to this face, to see, a code
On this account, a price on this memory.
And if you give the same answer – the same
As what? – the same statistically you’ll have
Won – what? – the bag of answers in the epistolary
Chain. The caricature also hits on the mean
Deadens interference, effaces failed shots
All free. Just now at the end of the line
She’s asking why the supervisory staff
Never ever marry aurally challenged
Physically disabled colored cleaners.
This morning the passers-by have chins stuck
With shaving cream, eyes half open, their step
Slightly slowed. They’re floating in the indirect
Light of communication. Perhaps
Because you slept badly their words were
Translated several times by machines
Before ending up in this cul-de-sac. They too
Are euphemisms and won’t help at all
In gathering up the nights scraps of hemp, the bits
Of dry tobacco already in the Rizla + roller:
At the beginning you always take too much, the morsels
Tender at first block it up
Heard voices closed eyes metallize
Run on empty. Don’t imitate speech
When writing, don’t put your drenched boots back on
They said. Not really a metaphor: a dream
And this other one: History rising drowned everything
Leaving only a few names and bells above water, plus some divers
Writing a thesis on dustbins. – But what is
That baby doing on the roof? How did it get there?
You who are interested in voices you say
It’s a question of finding a name for it. I leave
That job to Noah when he passes
With the dustmen. Duty calls: to retrace
The cloudy submarine story that explains nothing
But makes the link. It happened between two shadows
Beneath the dark line of contrast. The dancer
On the blue pack of tobacco should have guessed
That you don’t hunt for a screwed up bill expecting to get away with it
In the flickering light thrown by that sort of film.
Steps resound, stop, resound
And the crime takes place off-screen. We only saw
The smoke. Too late to put a word
To the Thing responsible and the victim carries
Her stage name with her into sleep. Mine
Was therefore produced by Val Lewton. Is she
Still on the line, the hostage of litotes?
The reply she gets is sorry but the call cannot
Be put through yet please hold the
Line. She prefers to call back later.

METTEZ UNE VOIX SUR SA PROSE

METTEZ UNE VOIX SUR SA PROSE

Mettez
Une date sur ce visage
Un prix sur ce souvenir
Ils flottent dans la lumière
Indirecte de la communication
Ils sont des euphémismes
Un rêve
On n’y a vu
Que du feu, trop tard pour mettre un mot
Sur la Chose
L’otage des litotes.


Mettez une voix sur sa prose
Disait l’annonce. On aurait dit
Une contrepèterie. L’image blondasse décolletée
Ne va ni avec le second substantif
Ni avec le premier. Mais l’invite est habile
Même quand on sait que ce corps, ces aveux
Tapés en série, cet organe prêt à vous débiter
Dès six heures du matin des mots d’amour
Sur votre carte bleue appartiennent au moins
À trois personnes différentes. Le jeu
Est sur l’album de la comtesse d’emboîter une tête
Un torse, des jambes en costumes typografolkloriques
Et toutes les cartes se retournent. Mettez
Une date sur ce visage, pour voir, un code
Sur ce compte, un prix sur ce souvenir.
Et si vous fournissiez la même réponse - la même
Que quoi? – la même statistiquement vous aurez
Gagné – quoi? – le sac des réponses de la chaîne
Épistolaire. La caricature fait aussi la moyenne
Atténue les sons parasites, efface les clichés ratés
Qui sont gratuits. En ce moment au bout du fil
Elle demande pourquoi les agents de maîtrise
N’épousent jamais jamais une technicienne de surface
À mobilité réduite malentendante de couleur.
Les passants ce matin ont le menton gommé
Par le savon à barbe, les yeux mal ouverts, la démarche
Légèrement freinée. Ils flottent dans la lumière
Indirecte de la communication. Peut-être
Parce que tu as mal dormi leurs paroles ont été
Traduites plusieurs fois par des machines avant
De s’établir dans ce cul-de-sac. Eux aussi
Il sont des euphémismes et ne seront d’aucune aide
Pour assembler les brins de chanvre de la nuit, les brins
De tabac secs déjà dans la rouleuse Rizla + :
Au début on en prend toujours trop, les copeaux
Tendres d’abord comme la chair font barrage
Les voix entendues les yeux clos se métallisent
Tournent à vide. N’imitez pas l’oral
Dans l’écrit, ne rechaussez pas vos bottes trempées
Disaient-elles. Pas vraiment une métaphore : un rêve
Et cet autre : l’Histoire en crue a tout noyé
Surnagent quelques noms et clochers, des plongeurs
Rédigent une thèse sur les poubelles. – Mais que fait
Ce bébé sur un toit ? Comment est-il arrivé là ?
Toi qui t’intéresses aux voix tu dis
Qu’il s’agit de lui mettre un nom dessus. Je laisse
Ce soin à Noé quand il passe
À l’heure des éboueurs. Le devoir m’appelle : retracer
La sombre histoire sous-marine qui n’explique rien
Mais fait le lien. C’est arrivé entre deux ombres
Sous la ligne dure du contraste. La danseuse
Du paquet de tabac bleu aurait dû se douter
Qu’on ne cherche pas impunément un billet en boule
À la lueur des réverbères dans un film de ce genre.
Ses pas résonnent, s’arrêtent, résonnent
Et le crime a eu lieu hors champ. On n’y a vu
Que du feu. Trop tard pour mettre un mot
Sur la Chose responsable et la victime emporte
Son nom de scène dans le sommeil. Le mien
Fut donc produit par Val Lewton. Est-elle
Toujours en ligne au moins, l’otage des litotes ?
On lui répond que l’on regrette de ne pouvoir donner suite
À son appel et on la prie de bien vouloir
Patienter. Elle préfère le renouveler ultérieurement.
Close

PUT A VOICE TO HER PROSE

Put
A date to this face
A price on this memory
They’re floating in the indirect
Light of communication
They are euphemisms
A dream
We only saw
The smoke, too late to put a word
To the Thing
Hostage of litotes.


Put a voice to her prose
Said the ad. You’d have called it
A spoonerism. The tarty blond image
Goes neither with the second noun
Nor with the first. But the invite’s cunning
Even when you know that this body, these mass-typed
Promises, this organ ready to make you pay
With loving words early as six A.M. 
On your credit card belong to at least
Three different people. The game
Is in the countess’s album fit a head
On a chest, legs into typografolkloresque costumes
And all the cards turn over. Put
A date to this face, to see, a code
On this account, a price on this memory.
And if you give the same answer – the same
As what? – the same statistically you’ll have
Won – what? – the bag of answers in the epistolary
Chain. The caricature also hits on the mean
Deadens interference, effaces failed shots
All free. Just now at the end of the line
She’s asking why the supervisory staff
Never ever marry aurally challenged
Physically disabled colored cleaners.
This morning the passers-by have chins stuck
With shaving cream, eyes half open, their step
Slightly slowed. They’re floating in the indirect
Light of communication. Perhaps
Because you slept badly their words were
Translated several times by machines
Before ending up in this cul-de-sac. They too
Are euphemisms and won’t help at all
In gathering up the nights scraps of hemp, the bits
Of dry tobacco already in the Rizla + roller:
At the beginning you always take too much, the morsels
Tender at first block it up
Heard voices closed eyes metallize
Run on empty. Don’t imitate speech
When writing, don’t put your drenched boots back on
They said. Not really a metaphor: a dream
And this other one: History rising drowned everything
Leaving only a few names and bells above water, plus some divers
Writing a thesis on dustbins. – But what is
That baby doing on the roof? How did it get there?
You who are interested in voices you say
It’s a question of finding a name for it. I leave
That job to Noah when he passes
With the dustmen. Duty calls: to retrace
The cloudy submarine story that explains nothing
But makes the link. It happened between two shadows
Beneath the dark line of contrast. The dancer
On the blue pack of tobacco should have guessed
That you don’t hunt for a screwed up bill expecting to get away with it
In the flickering light thrown by that sort of film.
Steps resound, stop, resound
And the crime takes place off-screen. We only saw
The smoke. Too late to put a word
To the Thing responsible and the victim carries
Her stage name with her into sleep. Mine
Was therefore produced by Val Lewton. Is she
Still on the line, the hostage of litotes?
The reply she gets is sorry but the call cannot
Be put through yet please hold the
Line. She prefers to call back later.

PUT A VOICE TO HER PROSE

Put
A date to this face
A price on this memory
They’re floating in the indirect
Light of communication
They are euphemisms
A dream
We only saw
The smoke, too late to put a word
To the Thing
Hostage of litotes.


Put a voice to her prose
Said the ad. You’d have called it
A spoonerism. The tarty blond image
Goes neither with the second noun
Nor with the first. But the invite’s cunning
Even when you know that this body, these mass-typed
Promises, this organ ready to make you pay
With loving words early as six A.M. 
On your credit card belong to at least
Three different people. The game
Is in the countess’s album fit a head
On a chest, legs into typografolkloresque costumes
And all the cards turn over. Put
A date to this face, to see, a code
On this account, a price on this memory.
And if you give the same answer – the same
As what? – the same statistically you’ll have
Won – what? – the bag of answers in the epistolary
Chain. The caricature also hits on the mean
Deadens interference, effaces failed shots
All free. Just now at the end of the line
She’s asking why the supervisory staff
Never ever marry aurally challenged
Physically disabled colored cleaners.
This morning the passers-by have chins stuck
With shaving cream, eyes half open, their step
Slightly slowed. They’re floating in the indirect
Light of communication. Perhaps
Because you slept badly their words were
Translated several times by machines
Before ending up in this cul-de-sac. They too
Are euphemisms and won’t help at all
In gathering up the nights scraps of hemp, the bits
Of dry tobacco already in the Rizla + roller:
At the beginning you always take too much, the morsels
Tender at first block it up
Heard voices closed eyes metallize
Run on empty. Don’t imitate speech
When writing, don’t put your drenched boots back on
They said. Not really a metaphor: a dream
And this other one: History rising drowned everything
Leaving only a few names and bells above water, plus some divers
Writing a thesis on dustbins. – But what is
That baby doing on the roof? How did it get there?
You who are interested in voices you say
It’s a question of finding a name for it. I leave
That job to Noah when he passes
With the dustmen. Duty calls: to retrace
The cloudy submarine story that explains nothing
But makes the link. It happened between two shadows
Beneath the dark line of contrast. The dancer
On the blue pack of tobacco should have guessed
That you don’t hunt for a screwed up bill expecting to get away with it
In the flickering light thrown by that sort of film.
Steps resound, stop, resound
And the crime takes place off-screen. We only saw
The smoke. Too late to put a word
To the Thing responsible and the victim carries
Her stage name with her into sleep. Mine
Was therefore produced by Val Lewton. Is she
Still on the line, the hostage of litotes?
The reply she gets is sorry but the call cannot
Be put through yet please hold the
Line. She prefers to call back later.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère