Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Pierre Alferi

MAN\'S FAVORITE SPORT

No proof
That we’re advancing
Doubt
Insinuated itself
That’s when
I admitted that a good thing might not be good
You say
That happiness is one thing and sadness
Another the two compatible
Let’s move on.


So? Happy? I was joking.
We’re now driving on the flat
Between two luminous crates of jungle
We’ve caught the scent of home. Even before
We’d turned round, sounded each other out
A crowd of delirious students clamored for
Our first impressions. – This voyage
Has no scientific value. No proof
That we’re advancing. Something definitely came out
Of the foam thanks to the excessive hygrometry
Of the region and its waters
So profuse that they spit fish lacking lures
Alas we’re pathetic mycologists
And our art of fishing is purely academic.
We discover interesting samples
Of lava in dusty shop windows
We obtain them at low prices but
Don’t think of melting them down
To extract the pendulum, the abbreviated message.
Ah we make a good couple when one
Catches up with the other. Doubt
Insinuated itself – do you remember? –
When we ended up in that forest of parasol mushrooms.
Your hair was in a bit of a mess, I still had
My cap with earflaps, my jacket
And my tweed knickerbockers with leather braces.
– First-rate, I said and you on tiptoe
To reach the ring the bitter aftertaste warned you
That it’s poisonous. The catch, what’s more,
Didn’t really conform to the rules. – I remember
The minimal credit accorded by the budding scholar
I was to my mother when she said I had
Eyes bigger than my stomach. We were
Punished for our delusions of grandeur
That led us to sin but in an infinitely small way
Catching a purulent mycosis. That’s when
I admitted that a good thing might not be good
And I never went back on it.
To say that for that it was necessary
Free and bound tightly, given over
One to the other to descend
To the centre of the Earth
Where the museums are shut, buses no longer circulate
To be tossed out to the antipodes
On a shell bed. Anyway
The landscape’s unchanged, the grocer makes it his duty
To speak to us as though he’d seen us yesterday.
– Just a light fluttering
Between sky and subsoil, I wouldn’t call
That dry land. Of course
I knew you had a soul
And fluctuations within it. You say
That happiness is one thing and sadness
Another, the two compatible. That’s beyond my domain. 
The shadows of those iguanas follow us
Disguised and fattened like amanita (parasol mushrooms!)
Through a game of perspective: no danger.
The word ‘real’ in your mouth closes
The back door. Calm, I will be completely
When we’ve put a few cable lengths
Between them and him. Lets move on
To your English revision lesson.
You say: it was a nice journey
I translate: une bonne journée.

LE SPORT FAVORI DE L’HOMME

LE SPORT FAVORI DE L’HOMME

Aucune preuve
Que nous avancions
Le doute
S’est insinué
C’est là
Que j’ai admis qu’une bonne chose pouvait n’être pas bonne
Tu dis
Que le bonheur est une chose et la tristesse
Une autre compatibles
Passons.


Alors ? Heureuse ? Je plaisantais.
Nous roulions maintenant sur le plat
Entre deux caissons lumineux de jungle
Nous sentions l’écurie. Avant même
Que nous nous soyons retournés, sondés l’un l’autre
Une foule d’étudiants en délire réclamerait
Nos premières impressions. – Ce périple
N’a pas de valeur scientifique. Aucune preuve
Que nous avancions. Il est bien sorti quelque chose
De la mousse grâce à l’hygrométrie extravagante
De ces régions et de leurs eaux
Si profuses qu’elles crachent des poissons en manque de leurres
Hélas nous sommes de piètres mycologues
Et notre art de la pêche est tout livresque.
Nous repérons d’intéressants échantillons
De lave dans les vitrines poussiéreuses
Nous les obtenons à bas prix seulement
Il ne nous vient pas à l’idée de les faire fondre
pour en extraire le pendule, le message abrégé.
Ah nous formons un beau couple quand l’un
Rattrape l’autre. Le doute
S’est insinué – tu t’en souviens ? –
Lorsque nous avons débouché dans cette forêt de coulemelles.
Tu étais un peu décoiffée, j’avais toujours
Ma casquette à rabats, mon veston
Et mes knickerbockers en tweed avec des sangles de cuir.
– Fameux, dis-je et toi sur la pointe des pieds
Pour atteindre la bague l’arrière-goût acre t’avertit
De la présence du venin. La prise, d’ailleurs,
N’était pas très réglementaire. – Je me rappelle
Le peu de crédit accordé par le savant en herbe
Que j’étais à ma mère quand elle m’appliqua l’expression
Des yeux plus gros que le ventre. Nous fûmes
Punis de notre folie des grandeurs
Par où nous avions péché mais dans l’infiniment petit
En chopant une mycose purulente. C’est là
Que j’ai admis qu’une bonne chose pouvait n’être pas bonne
Et je n’en suis pas revenu.
Dire qu’il a fallu pour ça
Libres et encordés, livrés
L’un à l’autre descendre
Jusqu’au centre de la Terre
Où les musées sont fermés, les bus ne circulent plus
Et gicler aux antipodes
Sur un lit de coquille. Enfin
Le paysage est inchangé, l’épicier se fait un devoir
De nous parler comme s’il nous avait vu la veille.
– Juste un léger flottement
Entre ciel et sous-sol, je n’appellerais pas
Ça le plancher des vaches. Bien sûr
Je savais que tu as une âme
Et des états. Tu dis
Que le bonheur est une chose et la tristesse
Une autre compatibles. Il n’est pas de ma compétence.
L’ombre nous suit de ces iguanes
Déguisés et grossis comme les amanites (des coulemelles!)
Par un jeu de perspective : aucun danger.
Le mot « réel » dans ta bouche ferme
La porte de service. Tranquille, je le serai tout à fait
Quand nous aurons mis quelques encablures
Entre eux et lui. Passons
À ta leçon de rattrapage d’anglais.
Tu dis : it was a nice journey
Je traduis : une bonne journée.
Close

MAN\'S FAVORITE SPORT

No proof
That we’re advancing
Doubt
Insinuated itself
That’s when
I admitted that a good thing might not be good
You say
That happiness is one thing and sadness
Another the two compatible
Let’s move on.


So? Happy? I was joking.
We’re now driving on the flat
Between two luminous crates of jungle
We’ve caught the scent of home. Even before
We’d turned round, sounded each other out
A crowd of delirious students clamored for
Our first impressions. – This voyage
Has no scientific value. No proof
That we’re advancing. Something definitely came out
Of the foam thanks to the excessive hygrometry
Of the region and its waters
So profuse that they spit fish lacking lures
Alas we’re pathetic mycologists
And our art of fishing is purely academic.
We discover interesting samples
Of lava in dusty shop windows
We obtain them at low prices but
Don’t think of melting them down
To extract the pendulum, the abbreviated message.
Ah we make a good couple when one
Catches up with the other. Doubt
Insinuated itself – do you remember? –
When we ended up in that forest of parasol mushrooms.
Your hair was in a bit of a mess, I still had
My cap with earflaps, my jacket
And my tweed knickerbockers with leather braces.
– First-rate, I said and you on tiptoe
To reach the ring the bitter aftertaste warned you
That it’s poisonous. The catch, what’s more,
Didn’t really conform to the rules. – I remember
The minimal credit accorded by the budding scholar
I was to my mother when she said I had
Eyes bigger than my stomach. We were
Punished for our delusions of grandeur
That led us to sin but in an infinitely small way
Catching a purulent mycosis. That’s when
I admitted that a good thing might not be good
And I never went back on it.
To say that for that it was necessary
Free and bound tightly, given over
One to the other to descend
To the centre of the Earth
Where the museums are shut, buses no longer circulate
To be tossed out to the antipodes
On a shell bed. Anyway
The landscape’s unchanged, the grocer makes it his duty
To speak to us as though he’d seen us yesterday.
– Just a light fluttering
Between sky and subsoil, I wouldn’t call
That dry land. Of course
I knew you had a soul
And fluctuations within it. You say
That happiness is one thing and sadness
Another, the two compatible. That’s beyond my domain. 
The shadows of those iguanas follow us
Disguised and fattened like amanita (parasol mushrooms!)
Through a game of perspective: no danger.
The word ‘real’ in your mouth closes
The back door. Calm, I will be completely
When we’ve put a few cable lengths
Between them and him. Lets move on
To your English revision lesson.
You say: it was a nice journey
I translate: une bonne journée.

MAN\'S FAVORITE SPORT

No proof
That we’re advancing
Doubt
Insinuated itself
That’s when
I admitted that a good thing might not be good
You say
That happiness is one thing and sadness
Another the two compatible
Let’s move on.


So? Happy? I was joking.
We’re now driving on the flat
Between two luminous crates of jungle
We’ve caught the scent of home. Even before
We’d turned round, sounded each other out
A crowd of delirious students clamored for
Our first impressions. – This voyage
Has no scientific value. No proof
That we’re advancing. Something definitely came out
Of the foam thanks to the excessive hygrometry
Of the region and its waters
So profuse that they spit fish lacking lures
Alas we’re pathetic mycologists
And our art of fishing is purely academic.
We discover interesting samples
Of lava in dusty shop windows
We obtain them at low prices but
Don’t think of melting them down
To extract the pendulum, the abbreviated message.
Ah we make a good couple when one
Catches up with the other. Doubt
Insinuated itself – do you remember? –
When we ended up in that forest of parasol mushrooms.
Your hair was in a bit of a mess, I still had
My cap with earflaps, my jacket
And my tweed knickerbockers with leather braces.
– First-rate, I said and you on tiptoe
To reach the ring the bitter aftertaste warned you
That it’s poisonous. The catch, what’s more,
Didn’t really conform to the rules. – I remember
The minimal credit accorded by the budding scholar
I was to my mother when she said I had
Eyes bigger than my stomach. We were
Punished for our delusions of grandeur
That led us to sin but in an infinitely small way
Catching a purulent mycosis. That’s when
I admitted that a good thing might not be good
And I never went back on it.
To say that for that it was necessary
Free and bound tightly, given over
One to the other to descend
To the centre of the Earth
Where the museums are shut, buses no longer circulate
To be tossed out to the antipodes
On a shell bed. Anyway
The landscape’s unchanged, the grocer makes it his duty
To speak to us as though he’d seen us yesterday.
– Just a light fluttering
Between sky and subsoil, I wouldn’t call
That dry land. Of course
I knew you had a soul
And fluctuations within it. You say
That happiness is one thing and sadness
Another, the two compatible. That’s beyond my domain. 
The shadows of those iguanas follow us
Disguised and fattened like amanita (parasol mushrooms!)
Through a game of perspective: no danger.
The word ‘real’ in your mouth closes
The back door. Calm, I will be completely
When we’ve put a few cable lengths
Between them and him. Lets move on
To your English revision lesson.
You say: it was a nice journey
I translate: une bonne journée.
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Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
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Literature Translation Institute of Korea
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