New poem by David Leo Sirois, “Sweet Mistake.” Photograph by the brilliant Alexandra Breznay…

Beloved

Sweet Mistake

The sun must have climbed
over our blind cloud horizon

from what seemed sleep

 

Woke to find my
hunger for the future
& thirst for long posterity lost –
emptiness in my head
except the notion I am nothing
but a hungry deer
that runs from

rifle blasts

 

My eyes addicted to
this dust-skinned window –

I allow rain to fall

 

Give me one compelling reason

to exist this morning

 

Still I am grateful to my hands
for their ceaseless volunteer support –
they can grasp or let go
of any kind of cactus
forever free &

bound

 

I starve for sense
but carry nonsense notions
of perfection that drench me –

yellowed wet newspaper

 

I could instead gently sing
each brilliant accident

& sweet mistake

 

On the splintered stage of experience
with one nearly-naked tree
I have waited endlessly
for Godot –
many chances to make
my fruitless faults

lose leaves

 

A hunchbacked human being named
Lucky was pursued & whipped
by his lifelong companion
while I witnessed

powerless

 

Warm tears are dirt-dry
compared to these diagonal streaks

of chilled rain

 

I have swallowed the water
that fell from insignificant
blue chameleon eyes
for how many of my

countdown’s hours?

 

My dear other father
who earned the Sanskrit title of Siddha –
Perfected One –

wishes for me to forever remember:

 

“A perfect life
is one that is free

of complaint.”

 

Let us not taint it.

 

Let there be strong water
to spill from our inner sky’s
charcoal clouds
Let there be mortar

to hold our shaken bricks together

 

Let there be light
that sunflowers & hollyhocks follow

as the sun walks its invisible path

 

Yes, I can live –
an Eden that empties its
rich crystal pitcher of
doubt & want
to water these clusters
of thirsty courtyard trees…

“Luminous Nothingness” (revised & with Taoist epigraph). Paintings by Iana Sophia.

Morning Impression, by iana sophia. Oil on canvas.

 

Luminous Nothingness 

“The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things.”

–Lao-Tzu

 

What are the roots that clutch, what branches

grow out of this stony mess of

semi-precious memories –

 

all the spirit’s detritus –

almost-valuable pebbles,

sloughed-off skins, clear quartz geodes

open their unpolished cores.

 

Scarlet agate the eons have

turned into hardened heartflesh,

red sand held almost forever

in time’s lost & found fingers…

 

Before the last, of course,

I grip this gravel with

curled toes –  but I wish for what’s

before the first.

 

“Look, & it can’t be seen.

Listen, & it can’t be heard.

Reach, & it can’t be grasped,”

I was warned by the eternal boy.

 

81 poems about nothing,

the boundless Tao te Ching.

A book I can grasp in hand –

blue eyes clutch at the land.

 

Tell me what you cannot say,

whisper to me when you have quit this Earth,

alert me the moment you fall asleep,

allow me where I cannot follow.

 

Failed beginnings, all unfinished stories form

a garland of unsung words,

unuttered prophecies, misinterpreted nightmares.

 

Confronted by a sudden mirror, I glimpse

my own inevitable end behind

anxiety’s wrinkle-edged eyes.

 

I carry 11 blissful minions

inside the heart pocket of my showy

suit jacket, stroll over cobblestones

sporting a grin of misguided pride –

 

dandy with a peacock feather behind my ear, I

act as if nothing comes to an end.

 

But one blow from that

inescapable ticket-taker

will arrest all my laughter

in an instant.

 

Don’t ask my why I forget

why I am here –

I am not yet aware.

 

The leaves of appalled birches attempt to point

me toward where the straight path’s no longer lost.

 

Straighter than pure sin.

Midway in this journey of

unadulterated folly…

 

Am I sick of my sacred duty to this dawn sun,

warm mouth of a winded warm-down horse –

 

sweet medicine

of efforts to unfold the silvery foil

wrapped around every incident –

taste the sweet blood-orange

at the heart of all experience.

 

Back in my prison, window-shaken

 

dust, bright enumerations of scared seconds…

there is a weight to these stern

white walls, which presses upon

the mind until I no longer notice.

 

Better to wander the knit streets of Montmartre

(famous for simply being itself)

at sun-up, drink freshly-made delicious winds,

& sing my secret aubade –

“Ah, but I was so much older then.

I’m younger than that now.”

 

Let us go then –

break the warm bread

of sunrise…nothing holds

down our hands’ shining silence.

 

“The Earth is my witness,”

he said as his soul snuffed out,

& touched liberated fingertips to soil.

 

“Luminous Nothingness” -new poem by David Leo Sirois. Painting (c) Iana Sophia.

Hafen, by iana sophia; oil on canvas.

 

Luminous Nothingness

 

What are the roots that clutch,

what branches grow out of this

stony mess of

semi-precious memories –

 

all the spirit’s detritus –

almost-valuable pebbles,

sloughed-off skins, clear quartz geodes

open their unpolished cores.

 

Scarlet agate the eons have turned

into hardened heartflesh,

red sand held almost forever

in time’s lost & found fingers…

 

Before the last, of course,

I grip this gravel with

curled toes –  but I wish for what’s

before the first.

 

“Look, & it can’t be seen.

Listen, & it can’t be heard.

Reach, & it can’t be grasped,”

I was warned by the eternal boy.

 

81 poems about nothing,

the boundless Tao te Ching.

A book I can grasp in hand –

blue eyes clutch at the land.

 

Tell me what you cannot say,

whisper to me when you have quit this Earth,

alert me the moment you fall asleep,

allow me where I cannot follow.

 

Failed beginnings, all unfinished stories that

form a garland of unsung words,

unuttered prophecies, misinterpreted nightmares.

 

Confronted by a sudden mirror, I glimpse

my own inevitable end behind

anxiety’s wrinkle-edged eyes.

 

I carry 11 blissful minions

inside my showy suit jacket’s

heart pocket, stroll over cobblestones

sporting a grin of misguided pride –

dandy with a peacock feather behind my ear,

I act as if nothing comes to an end.

 

But one blow from that

inescapable ticket-taker

will arrest all my laughter

in an instant.

 

Don’t ask my why I forget

why I am here –

I am not yet aware.

 

The leaves of appalled birches attempt to point

me toward where the straight path’s no longer lost.

 

Straighter than pure sin.

Midway in this journey of

unadulterated folly…

 

Am I sick of my sacred duty to this dawn sun,

warm mouth of a winded warm-down horse –

 

sweet medicine

of efforts to unfold the silvery foil

wrapped around every incident –

taste the sweet blood-orange

at the heart of all experience.

 

Back in my prison, window-shaken

dust, bright enumerations of scared seconds…

there is a weight to these stern

white walls, which presses upon

the mind until I no longer notice.

 

Better to wander the knit streets of Montmartre

(famous for simply being itself)

at sun-up, drink freshly-made delicious winds,

& sing my secret aubade –

“Ah, but I was so much older then.

I’m younger than that now.”

 

Let us go then –

break the warm bread

of sunrise…nothing holds

down our hands’ shining silence.

 

“The Earth is my witness,”

he said as his soul snuffed out,

& touched liberated fingertips to soil.

 

 

 

4 poems published in The Opiate (print & online).

Thank you Big Time to the editors of The Opiate, & to M. Malik Crumpler, who royally encouraged me to submit!

Warmly,

David Leo Sirois

Heart Pigeon

(“Heart Pigeon,” drawing by iana sophia)

https://theopiatemagazine.com/2016/11/11/vanity-pigeon-by-david-leo-sirois/ (link to online poem)

 

The Flavor of Water

 

Whatever’s left of me.

 

These fragments I have

more than the void.

Floes holding clusters of

floating ice.

 

My name a vestige of

identity, that falsehood

forever cocooned in mystery.

 

How far away my heart’s heart –

my home & final destination,

my other mother murmured.

 

I glimpse a verdant island there.

Attempt to see nomad wind

as it haunts these leaves & grasses.

See myself untied.

 

At this moment

I wish to rise awakened

but this stolen boat

holds me by the spine.

 

Wooden boards

won’t let go of me.

 

Sudden waft of hyacinth –

scent of purple scent of pink.

 

Everything is melting.

Buildings trees people.

In which world do I walk

without ceasing?

A little prince

on my own planet.

 

A white-haired woman once

attempted to instruct me –

“Life is relationships.”

Still can’t grasp it.

Don’t believe her.

 

For me, poetry –

which is forbidden to

discuss in a poem –

is a planned flâneurie.

Unnamable

city of silence.

 

There are sounds,

but they take no form

inside this inchoate mind.

 

In these shattered

rooms of mirrors

I am nothing –

silhouette seated

at a cleared table.

 

What is separation but

a split from everything one

has ever known?

 

But I enjoy this strangeness

called ‘alone.’

Means a blur of wine time longing & song.

Cocaine & countless cigarettes with

strangers on a sidewalk bench.

 

Supposed poet

porting an awkward guitar, secretly stealing

Napoleon’s pointed black hat,

symbolizing being

the self-crowned emperor of

performers.

 

I know good people at first sight,

seeing sapphire in their eyes –

then “Cast a cold eye

on life, on death.

Horseman, pass by!”

 

Carved on the king of the

Celtic Twilight’s tomb.

In his heavy lifetime tome

he reveals

what all conceal –

“There’s no fool

can call me friend.”

 

Who am I?

Don’t know.

 

I press a strange tongue

against my palate,

& pretend to be.

 

This is the flavor of water.

 

https://theopiatemagazine.com/2016/11/12/he-suffered-he-suffered-he-suffered-then-on-the-seventh-day-he-took-a-break-then-he-suffered-by-david-leo-sirois/ (link to online poem)

 

“Rest works wonders.”

 

I appear upon your screen

totally out of focus.

 

Help me arrive at where I am.

 

Even now, after 45 turns of

kind chaos, still I

fight to let myself be drawn

by the natural magnet

of my heart’s

heart.

 

Negative & positive poles mixed.

 

Seagulls flutter in & out of

my chest, in search of a

fresh or salty

body of water.

 

So often unfulfilled.

 

Midnight & where is my old mind?

Slipped between the slats of

reality’s trellis.

 

The head of one last gold rose

dignifies this servile kitchen table, &

complements my well-dressed skull –

pulled from a closet of stuffed bears, snowy owls,

& the 8-foot snake my mother sewed together

for my 10th birthday.

 

Million, the bear I still clutch all night,

worth a million dollars to me,

its neck weak & fur falling out.

Hard to hold my head up

with this heavy ego.

 

Back & forth along

the open window winter floor.

The shocking kiss of

tiles against naked feet.

 

Night’s rarefied silence.

 

An oversized plastic clock

adorns the wall with a cartoon clown –

the steadfast drumming of

the two-headed damaru,

with its stone upon a string, rocking

between the fingers of one of the four

hands of Rudra, “The Fierce Lord,” his tears taking the

form of brown beads encircling my wrist

three times – but at this hour wearing his

meditative face

to perform our never-ending cosmic dance –

 

makes me march in tune

with time, or lose my footing

trying to climb with both eyes closed

this mountain made of dust.

 

Is there really room for lies

when nature is so sincere?

Bound to be myself.

 

But who is this monster

fattening the mirror?

Think I’ve seen him

in some of my mother’s

long-ago-lost photographs.

 

Who has he all-too-easily

become, letting

laziness & sleep

lead his steps?

 

It is purest logic

to replenish an

empty glass,

& fill it with a blood-red

cure for pain

as often as the atmosphere

requires.

 

Darkness slips in slowly,

almost imperceptibly, until

eventually it claims its trophy.

 

At noon I saw a hunched grandmother

rolling an empty stroller

along a silent sidewalk –

my so-called presence still keeping it

vacant –

by her side a girl of

perhaps 2 & 1/2, pushing

an empty pink stroller herself.

 

Perhaps in 80 years this blond child,

in whose face I could already see the

soon-to-be adult, will graduate

to a futuristic make & model of a walker.

 

I saw that it was good

to be held upright.

 

I have seen so many things

(forever remaining ignorant)

& accomplished much less,

suffered in little educational ways,

& least of all had flashes of

the light that lives in sidewalks

& other living sculptures,

pulsating power

only seen by unfurrowing the

brow, softening the gaze, & listening

to the likes of William Blake –

 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed

every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.”

 

“We look not with, but through, the eye.”

 

Who, then, is this witness?

It saw & remembered last night’s

dream about wandering the streets in the

dark, feeling that my cold

winter coat lacked a Christmas gift

wrapped up in its pocket for a generous artist.

 

This witness watches my messed-up mind’s

blizzard of wayward words & letters.

My other father said “Don’t even let the

letters come together. . .Never become anything.”

 

Sometimes the countless seagulls that flit between

my ribs find a ripple upon which to sit

& rest.

 

After a 21-year labor of love, two translations of Paul Valéry into English: “Cemetery by the Sea” (his great long-form poem) & “The Footsteps,” plus an interview, in the French literary journal Terre à Ciel.

le cimetière marin pic

A picture of the cemetery in Sète, France, that inspired Valéry’s celebrated poem.

Yes, I announced this before, on Facebook, but I reawakened my long-dormant blog to keep this here for posterity. . .A huge thank you to Sabine Huynh, editor/poet/translator, for believing in me & my work! See the written interview after the poems on this page of Terre à Ciel (a well-respected, widely-read French online journal) for some background information on the poems & translations.

Paul Valéry, “Le Cimetière marin” et “Les Pas,” translated by David Leo Sirois, in Terre à Ciel.

Follow your bliss,

David

 

 

 

David Leo Sirois features at SpokenWord tonight, Monday, March 28…

Heart Pigeon

David Leo Lots o’ Cliché No Beret Thought-He-Was-Gay “How do you say?” Sirois here –

This is just to say that I have been invited, after coming every week like church for 3 & 1/2 years, to feature at SpokenWord! 8:30 tonight at Au Chat Noir, 76 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris – metro Parmentier (line 3) or Couronnes (line 2). Freakin’ A! Freakin’ Zed!

Bonne nouvelle!…”I’m writing to you today because the poetry magazine Terre à ciel is going to publish your very skillful translation of Paul Valéry’s Cimetière marin in the April issue (launch: April 15th).”  -Sabine Huynh, Editor/Publisher, Translator & Poet.  21 years of Work Not Wasted!  Yayyy!!!

Fellow wordbenders, songsharers, storytellers, joke-crackers, slackers, beauty-addicts, mystics & sincere human beings – I will be reading, as required by strict international law 😉 several poems to pigeons, but also new original poems, translations from the work of Paul Valéry, & playing a new song! (https://soundcloud.com/david-leo-957067…/ladybird-coccinelle)

The theme is Alice in Wonderland (Down the Rabbit-Hole). . .

If you’re curious about any things I may or may not have virtually been doin’ , my bio appears here: http://spokenwordparis.org/about-us/david-sirois/

Here is a pidge piece I may or may not spout out:

“Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio!” (from «Transmission» by Joy Division)

I saw children chasing pigeons at a playground
in Montmartre – As I walked by I smiled
& disapproved
They didn’t notice me
or my hair in disrepair – but I stared
in mute contemplation – of their scary
fearless unrelenting effort to scare
these multicolored humble turtledoves –
who come from everywhere
______________________
See you at SpokenWord!

Truly, madly, deeply,
David Leo Sirois

 

“Literary Luminaries” An unprecedented reading by local/international illuminati of poetry & prose – at Berkeley Books of Paris, this Saturday, the 30th of January, 2016 (!), from 7:30 – 10pm. At 8 rue Casimir Delavigne, 75006 Paris, France, Earth, Dat Ol’ Idea of Order in the Universe. ;) Featuring Antonia Alexandra Klimenko, David Barnes, Yann Rousselot, Amanda Paige Inman, Samuél Lopez-Barrantes, Cecilia Llompart, Alberto Rigettini & David Leo Sirois. . . Free wine! Good times! And, you know what, not entertainment but Art! A literature-fest! Welcome, lovers of the truly-lived life. . .

 

“Literary Luminaries,” – at Berkeley Books of Paris, this Saturday, the 30th of January, 2016 (!), from 7:30 – 10pm. At 8 rue Casimir Delavigne, 75006 Paris, France, Earth, Dat Ol’ Idea of Order in the Universe. 😉

Featuring:
Antonia Alexandra Klimenko (SpokenWord Paris Poet/Writer-in-Residence)

David Barnes (founder of Anglophone open mic’s in Paris, host of SpokenWord Paris, editor of THE BASTILLE magazine, co-host of The Other Writers’ Group at Shakespeare and Company)

Yann Rousselot (who recently released Dawn of the Algorithm, a collection of his poems),

Amanda Paige Inman, a poet brilliant beyond her years, endlessly inventive & often hilarious.

Samuel Lopez-Barrantes, who recently released his novel Slim and the Beast – new one in progress.

Cecilia Llompart (who recently released The Wingless, a collection of her poetry, & has won two awards from The Academy of American Poets)

Alberto Rigettini (co-host of SpokenWord; winner of the Lorca Prize in Translation; currently working on a quadrilingual novel set in 4 cities)

David Leo Sirois (published 38 times in 3 countries, in two languages, whose poem “Rainfragrant nights” served as the soundtrack to the short film BRUNO, directed by Matilda Thomas)

Free wine! Good times! And, you know what, not entertainment but Art! A literature-fest! Welcome, lovers of the truly-lived life. . .
_____________________

I, (David Leo “Open Secret” Wanna-Be-Impresario Joe Schmo Wishing-I-Were-Coolio Sirois) will be unveiling my 20-year labor of love translating “Le Cimetière marin” by Paul Valéry, arguably one of the three best ‘long poems’ of the 20th century, along with Neruda’s “The Heights of Macchu Picchu” & that T.S. guy’s “The Waste Land.” Of course, ignorant as every country’s academia is, whether more or less, of the rest of the world’s literature, there may be a better African long poem, or Asian, or Scandinavian, or one from elsewhere. Anywhooo, this poem freakin’ rocks! In the deepest existential sense. And its sense of craft, with high ideas grounded in strong, startling images. . .please take a glimpse of its beginning below.

The translation will be unveiled in its entirety for the first time, with the French verses read by gifted multi-artist Marie Hélène Reusser, visiting us especially from Rennes.

Voilà, to give you a taste of the work, here are the first 6 verses, first in French, & then in my “pigeon” English:

__________________
de “Le Cimetière marin”
par Paul Valéry

Ce toit tranquille, où marchent des colombes,
Entre les pins palpite, entre les tombes ;
Midi le juste y compose de feux
La mer, la mer, toujours recommencée !
Ô récompense après une pensée
Qu’un long regard sur le calme des dieux !

Quel pur travail de fins éclairs consume
Maint diamant d’imperceptible écume,
Et quelle paix semble se concevoir !
Quand sur l’abîme un soleil se repose,
Ouvrages purs d’une éternelle cause,
Le Temps scintille et le Songe est savoir.

Stable trésor, temple simple à Minerve,
Masse de calme, et visible réserve,
Eau sourcilleuse, Œil qui gardes en toi
Tant de sommeil sous un voile de flamme,
Ô mon silence !… Édifice dans l’âme,
Mais comble d’or aux mille tuiles, Toit !

Temple du Temps, qu’un seul soupir résume,
À ce point pur je monte et m’accoutume,
Tout entouré de mon regard marin ;
Et comme aux dieux mon offrande suprême,
La scintillation sereine sème
Sur l’altitude un dédain souverain.

Comme le fruit se fond en jouissance,
Comme en délice il change son absence
Dans une bouche où sa forme se meurt,
Je hume ici ma future fumée,
Et le ciel chante à l’âme consumée
Le changement des rives en rumeur.

Beau ciel, vrai ciel, regarde-moi qui change !
Après tant d’orgueil, après tant d’étrange
Oisiveté, mais pleine de pouvoir,
Je m’abandonne à ce brillant espace,
Sur les maisons des morts mon ombre passe
Qui m’apprivoise à son frêle mouvoir.
______________________________

from “Cemetery by the Sea”
– Paul Valéry (Translation by David Leo Sirois)

O my soul, seek not the immortal, but instead exhaust the realm of the possible. -Pindar

That tranquil roof, where doves are walking,
Trembling between the pines, between the tombs;
Noon the just sculpts with fire
The sea, the sea, forever starting over!
O recompense after a thought,
One long look on the calm of gods!

What pure work of fine lightning consumes
Countless diamonds of imperceptible foam,
And what peace seems to conceive itself!
When a sun rests on the abyss,
Pure workings of one eternal cause,
Time scintillates and the Dream is knowing.

Stable treasure, simple temple of Minerva,
Mass of calm, and visible reserve,
Brow-raising water, Eye who guards in you
So much sleep under a veil of flame,
O my silence!…Edifice in the soul,
High roof of a thousand gold tiles!

Temple of Time, which a single sigh sums up,
To this pure point I mount and accustom myself,
Entirely surrounded by my ocean vision,
And as my supreme offering to the gods,
The serene scintillation spreads
At this height a sovereign disdain.

As a fruit melts into pleasure,
Exchanging its absence for deliciousness
In a mouth where its form tastes death,
Here I inhale my future smoke
And the sky sings to the soul consumed
The changing of shores into rumor.

True sky, handsome heaven, see me! I change.
After so much pride, after such strange
Laziness, but pervaded with power,
I abandon myself to this brilliant space,
Over the houses of the dead my shadow passes,
Who tames me to his frail movement.

_________________

Thank you for reading, & see you at the reading – this Saturday the 30th at Berkeley Books of Paris!