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This is Jacket 14 - July 2001   |   # 14  Contents   |   Homepage   |

This issue of JACKET is a co-production with SALT magazine

Jan Baeke - four poems

translated from the Dutch by the author, with Rod Mengham


At certain hours of the night
the horses are nothing if not landscape

and the landscape in nocturnal Paris
is breath
lifting from the warm flanks
rain unfolding
through a black skin.

Still Paris is never different
From Paris.

He lights a cigarette.
He lights the fire
to warm a woman.
Her breath fuses with the air
in which fire prospers.

Whether the fire will overtake the night
and such fires will fall to the cigarettes.
Whether voices will hunt through the fires
and the smouldering rooms
in which the air breaks up and disappears.

How the secret of the world expands
and stays the same.

He takes his head in his hands
and thinks
the air, the air etcetera
and what escapes every fire

horses, women, ordinary things
all added up.

Exercise Against Time

He turns on the light in the kitchen
and sits down.
What I have thought up, exists.

On the table the bottles are good company
which is the best thing, this evening, and
that he wakes her up, her name
not to forget
that he practices the evening cadence
and succeeds.

She lets down her breath upon him.
Time is too much, he thinks.
If everything must begin, let it.

He wipes the shards from his hair.
He counts the joints in the floor.
The kitchen just stretches out in front of him.

The Helpful Ones

They are ready.
They hide him from the blazing sun
when he falls.

Over there, in adoration
and to convince him
that in their hands enough warmth can be trapped.

They are friends who call him by his first name.
That is something else they hang on to.

They don’t let him fall.
They help him to stay upright
until his recovery.

We are All Waiting for Him

We are waiting for him
but the assumption is unbearable
that he doesn’t know where we are
that others are saying
why bestow light on the wretched?

But there is also the tantalizing assumption
that we are the ones, that it is one of us

often not the most heretical who thinks
that some-one who knows him
slaps him on the shoulders
and invites him to dinner.

We cannot do it.

J A C K E T # 14   and   S A L T # 13   Contents page
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Copyright Notice: Please respect the fact that this material is copyright. It is made available here without charge for personal use only. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose

This issue of Jacket is a co-production with SALT magazine,
an international journal of poetry and poetics, edited by John Kinsella
PO Box 937, Great Wilbraham, Cambridge PDO, CB1 5JX United Kingdom ISSN 1324-7131

This material is copyright © Jan Baeke and Rod Mengham
and Jacket magazine and SALT magazine 2001
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