from Solar Throat Slashed
4 poems by Aimé Césaire, translated from the French by Clayton Eshleman and A. James Arnold

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Click here to read Eshleman's Notes on these poems.

Click here to read Eshleman's "Organized Nomadistorms of Broken Oases."




Swamp

The swamp unrolling its lasso until then coiled around its navel the swamp spouting odors that until then had woven a shoulder with armpits
The swamp unmaking the evil eye that up to the present had lit up more or less well the wretched den in the depths of which it preserved its faulty reasoning in a jar of luxurious leeches reserved for the blood of the most illustrious crowned heads

and here I am settled via the most obliging quicksand at the bottom of the swamp and smoking the rarest tobacco that any lark ever smoked.

Miasma they told me this could only be the reign of twilight. I hereby notify you that I had been misled. From the other side of life, of death, bubbles are rising. They burst on the surface with the noise of shattered light bulbs. They are the divers of the victims of reclusion resurfacing to put away their heads of lead and of glass their tenderness.

For me every animal is a trumpeter-watchdog.
Every plant a silphium blind word of the North and South.
Stay alert.
They are serpents.
One of them hisses along my spinal column then coiling at the base of my thoracic cage it darts its head up to my spasmodic throat.
At the end the occlusion is sweet and beneath the sand I intone

THE HYMN TO THE LUMBAR SERPENT





Blues

Aguacero
beautiful musician
unclothed at the foot of a tree
amidst the lost harmonies
close to our defeated memories
amidst our hands of defeat
and peoples of a strength strange
we let our eyes hang
and native
loosing the leading-rein of a sorrow
we wept.





Commonplace



Commonplace the night cake decorated with little candles made of fireflies
commonplace a row of palm trees for exposing my thoughts best silenced
commonplace the plate of sky served by magi in red pepper raiment
commonplace the poinsettia’s young green hand clenched outside its massacre gloves
Hope Hope
when the wave unrolls its bundle of lianas of every scent and casts all of them at the necks of cross-eyed horses
when the cove displays its salty mane gadrooned with the rarest starch of seaweed and fish
may the vomiting mugs of victims spit their bottles of essential oils not so badly preserved under the ultra-mobile mass of mountains risen over the central fire while the alchemist of dawn rolls his diamond beads across the vast leaf hand shaken by the tarot alembic in the midst of its pious arum court
Hope when the children cut up in pieces the men killed by pickaxe blows the women
cut up into breasts are knotted into incendiary grenades
Hope soar Great Horned Owl
Hope herd of elephants hurl a tardy forest to the fertilizer of the stars
dance Hope and trample and scream among the remoras’ charming attention and the
raw bellowing the caiman emits at the onset of an earthquake

admirable wound I lose my blood I lose my breath I lost my head and find it again at
the outfall of the digestion of great boa constrictors dear head I dress you with the innumerable pinnules that allow me to break the violence of the rain dear head I lose
you again I lose my memory I don’t recover it don’t give a damn since right where 
my mutilations are other limbs grow back

may flying seeds striate the air with their propellers
may lianas gash the void with great razor slashes
may roots wash down my velvety throat huge shots of rum macerated with poisonous
ants
Hope I am a little whirlwind I pivot on a myself swallower of ponds on a myself en-
dorser of disasters and I open the floodgates of reconstruction with my mug
Hope sunrise and sunset struck down it is a balance sheet of conquered bells in a bitter bloody dust
and by the oath of a dog’s tongue
and by the spelled-out paradise by the carrion in the haphazard couch-grass glade
and why not go on excite me the first step of chaos
and my arms filled with lace woven on the majestic loom of the flood and my chest
trampled by a meadow of mimosas
it is the hour for throwing a desiccated delta across my face and on the immense wreckage I sketch impatiently my utterly new mouth
Hope the spark of a glare of ice in the downbeat of jellyfish
Hope the just flotsam of your attitudes struggling with the astray terrestrial mechanism
Hope I design on my side a hedge so alive that one hand can from the folds of my neck
make a hundred hornbills burst forth
Hope it is not too late I give everything
to the unforgettable cracking of malarial bones to the remarkable precision of the incision of the vampire bat I bequeath what I have left my ten toes my adult teeth

and you ibis lanterns carry off at the pace of your shoulders my mantle of old spit and my
pistol shirt

Hope Hope
great arain in the kiss of my long mechanic arms





Horse



My horse stumbles over skulls hopscotched in rust
my horse rears in a storm of clouds which are putrefactions of shipwrecked flesh
my horse neighs in the fine rain of roses and sentiments that my blood creates in the scenery of the street fairs
my horse stumbles over the clumps of cacti that are the entangled vipers of my torments
my horse stumbles neighs and stumbles toward the curtain of blood of my blood pulled down on all the pimps shooting craps for my blood
my horse stumbles before the impossible flame of the barrier howled at by the vesicles of my blood
my horse rears before the great pillar of hyacinth perfectly pure that rises to the glory of the lord and descends to the depths of the shit of my blood
my horse rears before a beryl lamp made from fireflies peddled by my blood
I saw too a great horse of ardent peace that dashed forward pawing the ground from a season of rains of mollusks of an anger of hair of a harangue of pyramids of a camisole of old corks of a confusion of mushroom spittle
great horse my blood to be spilled in public squares
my blood in which from time to time a woman in solar perfection shoots out all her tuberous stems and vanishes in a tornado born on the far side of the world
my blood for a foot freshly repainted as a gibbet
my blood that no canonization has ever soiled
my blood the wine of a drunkard’s vomit
my blood that no paid off judge has ever heard
I give it to you great horse
I give you my ears to be made into nostrils capable of quivering
my hair to be made into a mane as wild as they come
my tongue to be made into mustang hooves
I give them to you
great horse
so that you may approach the extreme limit of brotherhood
the men of elsewhere and of tomorrow
on your back a child of the furrow with barely moving lips
who for you
shall disarm
the chlorophyllian crumb of the vast crows of the future.