More Poems from GRACE NOTES [Appogiatures]


More poems from my coming translation (Spring 2017, The Word Works Press) of Jean Cocteau’s GRACE NOTES [Appogiatures] appear in Eleven Eleven.

It was obvious the old gypsy at the Café Vienna, where we fetched up with the minister, was emptying himself of substance, and that substance, now visible, was winding, unwinding, twisting, knotting, unknotting itself, with the heavy suppleness of honey pouring into honey. His grief converted to soft matter, oily, thick, the consequence of invasions and ruin. Our table was an islet engulfed by this stuff. Several women, bristling like chestnut burrs with gemstones, elbows on the tablecloth, the ovals of their faces held between their hands and their eyes vague, didn’t yet feel the sticky shawls burdening their bare shoulders. The minister beat time, eyes to heaven and sunk in the goop to his thighs. Other customers, more attentive but not daring to complain, climbed on their seats. The old gypsy played on. Bare shoulders put him in brilliant form. He sobbed. He emptied himself under the frightened gaze of the accordionist and the cashier. She in her safe haven would be the last of the victims swamped by the glop turning the room into a snake pit. The gypsy alone escaped his own ruin, extracting a heart-rending cry from it. But with a fatal stroke of the bow he stopped playing. Then with astonishing speed the ooze returned to his body and emptied the room, leaving the guests stupid, posed like mannequins.

Il était de toute évidence que le vieux tzigane du Café de Vienne où nous échouâmes avec le ministre se vidait de sa substance et que cette substance, devenue visible, se déroulait, s’enroulait, se tordait, se nouait, se dénouait, avec la lourde agilité du miel qui coule sur du miel. Substance molle, grasse, épaisse, en quoi se changeaient ses plaintes, justifiées par des invasions et par la ruine. Notre table menaçait d’être un îlot entouré de cette pâte. Quelques dames, hérissées du rayonnement de châtaigne de leurs pierreries, les coudes sur la nappe, l’ovale du visage entre leurs mains et l’œil vague, ne sentaient pas encore les gluantes écharpes qui surchargeaient leurs épaules nues. Le ministre, le regard aux anges, battait la mesure, empâté jusqu’aux cuisses. D’autres consommateurs, plus lucides, et n’osant se plaindre, montaient sur les banquettes. Le vieux tzigane continuait. Les épaules nues le mettaient en verve. Il sanglotait. Il se vidait sous le regard effrayé de l’accordéoniste et de la caissière. La caissière, habitant comme un refuge, risquait d’être atteinte après les autres victimes de cette pâte qui faisait ressembler la salle à une fosse pleine de serpents. Seul le tzigane paraissait échapper à sa propre perte et en tirer une plainte déchirante. Mais il s’arrêta de jouer, après la glissade mortelle de l’archet sur une corde et, avec une vélocité incroyable, toute cette pâte réintégra son corps, vida la salle, laissa les convives stupides, dans des postures de mannequins.


3 thoughts on “More Poems from GRACE NOTES [Appogiatures]

  1. M-S … these are wonderful- graceful yet deep, grounded and ethereal, delicious words to convey the other world. Thank you, nol

  2. Dearest M-S,

    I am really excited about these poems!! And the book.

    If I weren’t such a dishrag from a colonoscopy (this morning), I’d be able to read them more intelligently, and work some on my French (!). (The latter has to be done. Eleanor is entirely French and her bébés will be also. Probably also Bipolar I, but that is another story.)

    I had a polyp. : ( . Not a biggie. Though it vanished (and I can look for it if I want—Lord!), doc says it looked benign, and UGH, I have to go back in in three years. I had felt so guilty b/c I was a year and a half late.

    Cancer screens, cancer screens. I guess it beats cancer. Claudia Emerson and her story are with me day and night (I know nothing about her colonoscopy schedule—I just mean, in general). She was so brilliant and so lovely. (Did you know her?) And she was one of my recommenders, till the last gasp.

    Sorry I am so insipid and doubly so in large type. I am still under the influence of sedation. Didn’t get as high as I had hoped. (!!??)

    Anyhow, will I see you Friday? Hope hope hope. Please advise.

    I was sorry to miss the Writers Resist events. Would have gone to Bloomington, I think. But had to do the prep. The thing was already scheduled. And I will be sorry to miss the march—but that kind of thing really is not my strong suit. Standing around. It is going to be fabulous, and Lucy is going and can represent me (and Eleanor). I realize I need to do these things to offset stormy, dark sessions w NPR and NYT, F B, etc.

    Possibly, one could be grateful that T. is such an egregious asshole that no one can miss it. And the Republican Congress who have sold out entirely in service of their greedy agenda. I am always saying “Just the health care alone . . . “ and “Just the climate alone” and “the Russia thing alone,” etc., etc. On every front, a shock.

    Please write and say you have found a way to come down to the service on Friday and/or will have time to hang some after.

    xoxox! Congrats on your great work. I have so many unfinished poems bulging, it makes me nervous. Wish I had a colony stay, starting tmw, but it ain’t happening. It’s good, though, that I get to enjoy Umberto while he is here. At some point, in the summer, his owner will be taking him back to TX. He is a huge challenge. I fell off—or should I say “slithered”—a week ago but was hardly hurt, Thank the Lord. Landed directly on my coccyx in the soft sand. Broke my fall by clinging to his neck as I was going down. Fall was entirely my fault. I was jumping a course in the indoor and got to the wall faster than expected. Was trying to follow Christy’s injunction to Go to K, go to K (b/c before he had cut left), and forgot the detail of stopping. So of course he went left at the wall (was doing everything perfectly I was just a beat behind). I went right, and violà. It was at the end of my lesson, but I redid the thing at a trot (just the one jump and ride to K) and rode again this Saturday so am back in saddle . . . .

    I HOPE I have not already told you all this!!

    xoxox, will recover my mind soon!!!



  3. Hey, M-S,

    Have arrived at The Graduate, having stopped off at the dementia unit (at Rosewood Village up near the airport) to see my godmother. My cell is 765-430-8165. Not sure if I have yours. Let me know your plans in the morning. Whether you want to meet here, or whatever works.




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