Cami Park

Form is never more than an extension of breakfast.

In Beverage, Nutrition, Poetry on June 14, 2009 at 6:00 pm

–Bill Knott, from his great blog post all about form and stuff, which concludes with this excellent poem which I just had to post on my own blog.

Late Rising

Terrible
is the soft sound of a hardboiled egg
cracking on a zinc counter
and terrible is that sound
when it moves in the memory
of a man who is hungry
Terrible also is the head of a man
the head of a man hungry
when he looks at six o’clock in the morning
in a smart shop window and sees
a head the color of dust
But it is not his head he sees
in the window of ‘Chez Potin’
he doesn’t give a damn
for the head of a man
he doesn’t think at all
he dreams
imagining another head
calf’s-head for instance
with vinegar sauce
head of anything edible
and slowly he moves his jaws
slowly slowly
grinds his teeth for the world
stands him on his head
without giving him any comeback
so he counts on his fingers one two three
one two three
that makes three days he has been empty
and it’s stupid to go on saying It can’t
go on It can’t go on because
it does
Three days
three nights
without eating
and behind those windows
paté de fois gras wine preserves
dead fish protected by their boxes
boxes in turn protected by windows
these in turn watched by the police
police protected in turn by fear
How many guards for six sardines . . .
Then he comes to the lunch counter
coffee-with-cream buttered toast
and he begins to flounder
and in the middle of his head
blizzard of words
muddle of words
sardines fed
hardboiled eggs coffee-with-cream
coffee black rum food
coffee-with-cream
coffee-with-cream
coffee crime black blood
A respectable man in his own neighborhood
had his throat cut in broad daylight
the dastardly assassin stole from him
two bits that is to say
exactly the price of a black coffee
two slices of buttered toast
and a nickel left to tip the waiter
Terrible
is the soft sound of a hardboiled egg
cracking on a zinc counter
and terrible is that sound when it moves
in the memory
of a man who is hungry.

–Jacques Prévert

trans. by Selden Rodman

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