5 Poems from Les Ziaux
by Raymond Queneau
translated by Daniela Hurezanu and Stephen Kessler

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The half-baked sermon was heard by death
gone with the wind was the moral preached
the moral’s sermon to which death listened
death was listening and death could hear
the other blabbing and his voice resounding
the space of a breath gone with the wind
listening and hearing silent and sniffing
the smell of this sermon too good for my time
my sermon and my death and my moral and my time
sickening stench of my stinking death
my pitifully praying daily death
death of my moral gone with the wind




Days have gone by accompanied by nights
days have gone by with a whole circular
trajectory of a great sigh of sunlight
with the land’s breath breathed as it leaves the sea
dripping oily drops in the dry brightness
days have gone by in bursts of inspiration
no deeper than the thickness of a leaf
an ancient memory on a calendar
days have gone by accompanied by nights
long nights of long sleep full of melted days
under the frozen horizon guarded by stars
as long as space and long as a time
Days have gone by accompanied by nights
short nights a cry a spasm a quick crash
when a shot rabbit springs out of the bush
days have gone by accompanied by nights
and well that’s all there is and it is nothing
                               days have gone by




Light chases a jolt far into the dark
little lightning eyes of the nocturnal beast
whose electric fur is stroked by the wind
shyly watch a sky streaked with
raw desire nights exacerbate
lights in the night jolts of light




The shadow reveals a bony rusty tool
a skeleton still hanging from the scythe
in a corner by the fire where an egg is boiling
skull that dreamed up the hourglass




Such a wise fox with subtle eyes
a certain serpent fertile grass
flowers fanned out across the plain
bird darting through shrubs
smiling water burning sun
hen shaking its cuffs...

...feathers in the air oh subtle
fox fooled by the quick
trap: then the grass spreads
to soak up the mixed blood
of the red-throated bird
and the slain hunter!