Poems by Louis Armand

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Tür zum Nichts
(after Ivan Blatný)
The stillness so quiet here, decades pass
like spaceflight, naked and waiting.
I write down everything in notebooks ––
mind a little too blank sometimes,
listening to dust settle on the inner eye.
Once there were machines to keep watch,
now left to our own devices, like beasts
in fairytales –– metaphors of a child’s
wanting to be in the wrong, for the sake
of a punishment that proves all is as it
should be. Old man in his counting house,
keeping score, saying if you’re going
to beat your brains out you want to
do it with a clear conscience? Holding
a broken safety valve in the palm ––
at-the-end-of-the-mind, to communicate
telepathically with birds and mice.
Dimensions indicate width, depth, height.
Autumn, watching cut flowers die in
countless waiting room scenes with
crossword puzzles and annoyingly pre-
recorded faces, the medicated soft-shoe
shuffle of homonyms groping towards cure
in the white-walled confessional.
Deduced by methods not yet known,
garbage trucks undo the secret arrangement
of trash in the middle of the night.
Disturbances in ancient sedimentations.
Inert things grow more attentive,
TV antennae, bracken, barbed wire.
Ghosts of cosmonauts float in the sky.


Leon Paul Fargue
(for David Vichnar)
Morning coffee telekinesis –– inhaling that first dry cut
of grass, firemen in step, circling the park, glisten of sweat
in end-of-May weather. Another Copernican revolution
to scribble in books. Down in the station ––
the 8.49 northbound rattler. Cluny, heads clustered
under the awnings, a surface of botched light, impressionniste.
Cameras flash –– the grand old dame on her back
knees up, sighing, & God in lofty voice
shoos the picnickers from the deportation monument.
A kiosk, another coffee, vague wordparticles fission &
collide in the rivegauche of the brain tree.
The maculate daylight, lurching under cinema marquees,
a rat pissing in a blind alley, rue Saint Denis,
rough-legged, yellow-eyed, crotchless Pigalle.
Watching an undressed square of light
flicker on a wall. Afternoon, evening, the slide into entropy.
Quai Bourbon with bottled obscenities, talking
large into the night –– a flare beneath the river, sky
a frazzled windowpane. Lajeuneaméricaine, hiked skirts
below the bridge: Who’s there? A piece of graffiti
under lamplight says “failure makes possible.”
A face, footsteps in reverberating stutter:
this unended search to be satisfied –– hour-on-hour
circling the périphérique –– the same thing in the same place,
the grey tide, the discomfort of sleep.



Pictor Ignotus
(for David Malouf)
The conception is everything –– grown
     from a hostile mind like a city state
in a hot wilderness. Its curve and arc.
     Two men in the beginning performed
a simple act –– welding two girders
     together, then a third. A whole complex
of space –– Uffizi-garish, little
     Medicis volumising over it …
The procession of rooms –– the glopping
     monitors’ hum and buzz. Some primitive
Giotto’s Last Supper –– jungle-eyed,
     a caged figure mewling at its captors,
hook, tail, breast-mound and rude totemic line
     (“tantôt libre, tantôt rechercher”) ––
the miraculous Daughter of Fishes,
     fleshlipped, nightblue, shriving the horse-mackerel.
“Still glides the stream and shall forever glide.”
     Five thousand miles of platitude and not
one pale god to be seen. Nolan’s Burke, dead-
     eyed like some homicidal idiot,
stands sentry at the tomb of the unknown
     artist –– bark and red ochre, yellow,
white, a pair of sticks tied with possum gut
     to steer through subterranean weather.
Whoever said that art doesn’t conform
     to fact? A polaroid nude, the eye’s un-
bridled rut blacking-out a big money
     sunset, navy yards and warm chardonnay.
Or an artefact shaped from the stolen
     inner lives of appearances. These things
like maps of impending extinction: that
     procure such insurance against themselves.