Michel Delville

For Antonio Lobo Antunes

Toi qui as gravi les sommets, toi dont l’expérience de la beauté et de la mort t’avait rendu chaque jour plus fort, te voilà prostré, accablé, fait comme un rat. Tes mains tremblantes, tes bras et jambes si pâles, tendus comme une crampe. Tu tentes de ramper un peu plus loin mais ton corps ne t’appartient plus, te ne sens plus tes cuisses, et tes vêtements sont alourdis de sang frais. Tes beaux yeux bleus sont écarquillés, tes pupilles sont dilatées, tes mâchoires se serrent. Ton gosier a un arrière-goût métallique, ta langue est sèche et roussie. Ton intelligence inentamée écoute les diagnostics. Chaque mot, chaque ligne, tu l’écriras pour cet enfant au visage blême et au regard de lumière. Tu voudrais lui murmurer quelque chose, mais tu t’endors sans savoir quelles sont les nouvelles, l’avenir à dire et à redire.

For Antonio Lobo Antunes (translated from the French by Gian Lombardo)

You who scaled peaks, where you experienced beauty and death made you stronger every day. There you lay prostrate, overcome, like a rat. Your trembling hands, your arms and legs so pale, wrenched in some kind of spasm. You try to crawl a but further, but your body no longer belongs to you, you no longer feel your thighs, and your clothes hand heavy with fresh blood. Your handsome blue eyes open wide, your pupils dilate, your jaws clench. There's metallic aftertaste in your throat. Your tongue is parched and scorched. Your unscathed intelligence listens for diagnoses. Every word, every line you will write for that child's face ashen against the light. You would whisper something to him, but you fall asleep without knowing what's new, what future to speak and speak again.

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About Michel Delville

Michel Delville is a poet, musician and essayist born in Liège, Belgium, in 1969. He teaches literature and comparative literature at the University of Liège, where he directs the Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Poetics. He is the author or editor of some twenty books pertaining to contemporary poetics, including The American Prose Poem (University Press of Florida, 1998), Food, Poetry, and the Aesthetics of Consumption: Eating the Avant-Garde (Routledge, 2009), Crossroads Poetics: Text, Image, Music, Film & Beyond (Litteraria Pragensia, 2013), and Undoing Art (w. Mary Ann Caws). His books of poetry include Le troisième corps (Le Fram, 2005), which was translated into English as Third Body (Quale Press, 2009) and Entre la poire et le fromage (2014), which was translated into English by Gian Lombardo and published in 2018. He has also published a para-poetic essay on Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart (Salt, 2006). His awards and distinctions include the SAMLA Book Award, the Choice Outstanding Book Award, the Wernaers Prize for the promotion of research and the diffusion of scientific knowledge and the Belgian American Educational Foundation Alumni Award. As a musician (Delville has played and recorded with Elton Dean, Dave Liebman, Elton Dean, Annie Whitehead, Harry Beckett, Chris Cutler, Ed Mann, Dagmar Krause, Karen Mantler, Robin Rimbaud, The Brussels Philharmonic and many others) Delville creates mixed-media projects featuring poetry laced with music, visuals and electronics.