Les Fleuves de Paris

à hauteur de poitrine en os descendus -- Dylan Thomas


Il pleut et les boulevards de Paris sont plongés
dans les os à hauteur de poitrine. Se confondent
couramment, dans le lai-de-pluie d'avril,
des images tels des ormes dressés
le long de Saint-Germain ou de Saint-Michel.

Les boulevards sont des fleuves que le vent doit
aux reflets de vos yeux et la lumière,
aux vitres transparentes que le vent tisse
autour du Sacré-Coeur, miroirs-sphères
dans le ventre arrondi
de l'imitation, claire-voie sur l'eau
qu'effleure la mouette seule
à son art suranné du vol.

Le long de la Seine, tous les trésors
des âges anciens renferment des os,
les fluides et les permanents,
la roche, le germe de l'océan
la masse d'air qui,
entre des arbres jumeaux,
oscille sur le quai Voltaire,
le souffle rauque du vent
dans le poumon du clochard
ravagé, fracturé
par des hurlements poussés dans la nuit.

Près du Pont-Neuf, les ossements de feuilles s'agitent
lorsqu'ils percent les imprévisibles
clairs des surgissements d'herbe.
Les os de Baudelaire
renferment des os, pesées éternelles,
formes de chapelles de marins aux teintes d'ocre
ombres-poèmes telles des runes nordiques
ou ponctuations fendues par les os de la langue
d'araignée des écrivains.

Dans le courant de conscience qui nous traverse
s'écoulent les fleuves de Paris
sur les escarpements du temps imaginé
en précipitant dans leur chute
leurs fardeaux d'images à l'ossature recomposée
tel le langage ou des ailes de chauve-souris
aspirant au vol inspiré.

C'est dans le râle de la mort unique
d'une pierre que réside le progrès
auquel nous parviendrons tous
avec le temps, chacun s'abattant
dans la pluie de son souffle,
imitations du Dantesque
que font confluer les corporels courants
dans les canaux de Montparnasse
trempés comme le nouveau-né et profonds comme le fleuve,
descendant des os.


James Ragan, trans. Maureen Holm and Patrick Haon




The Rivers of Paris

'breast-deep in bones descending' -- Dylan Thomas


It is raining and the boulevards of Paris
are breast-deep in bones. It is usual
for images in the rain-lay of April
to merge like ascending elms
down Saint Germain or Saint Michel.
The boulevards are the rivers wind owes
to the eyes' reflections, light
to the panes transparent
in the domes of air wind weaves
along Sacre Coeur, the sphered
mirrors in the belly-up
of imitation louvred upon the water
the lone gull skims, antiqued
in its art of flying.

Down the Seine all troves
of antiquity have bones,
the fluid and the permanent,
the rock, the sea's seed,
the hunk of air
swinging between two trees
along the banks of Quai Voltaire,
the wheeze of wind
in the clochard's lung,
shelled and fractured
by screams in the night air.

The bones of leaves along Pont Neuf seethe
when spearing the unpredictable
sheers of grass growth.
The bones of Baudelaire
have bones, timeless weights,
looms of ochre in their bethel's shapes,
poem-shadows like Norse runes
or punctuations, splintered
by the bones of spiders'
writer's tongues.

In all our streams of consciousness,
the rivers of Paris run
down the escarpments of imagined time,
their portmanteau of images
falling, boned together like language
aspiring to inspired flight.

In the single dying of a stone's
last breath there is progress
we will all come to
in time, falling, each of us,
through the rain of our breath,
imitations of the Dantesque,
fused by the body's currents
down the chutes of Montparnasse,
birth-wet and river-deep
in bones descending.


James Ragan


from Womb-Weary
A poet, linguist, and arts lawyer, MAUREEN HOLM is a principal in the international arts consortium, p h i l o p h o n e m a  (producers of Lyric Recovery Festival at Carnegie Hall), and Senior Essayist for the monthly, Big City Lit, which with affiliate, The Author's Watermark, sponsors events in the Northern Catskills. Her poetry/essay credits include: The Drunken Boat, Niederngasse, Southern California Anthology, poetry bay, Paris/Atlantic, Rattapallax, Lagniappe (SUNY Buffalo), The Electric Acorn (Dublin). Recent awards:  "Writers Who Made a Difference" (The Writer Magazine); Winner 2002, Medicinal Purposes Literary Review award; Honorable Mention, 2001 Ann Stanford Prize (judge: Robert Mezey). She lives in New York.
Maureen Holm
James Ragan
JAMES RAGAN's books include In the Talking Hours, The Hunger Wall, Lusions, and The World-Shouldering "I." He has been interviewed by Leslie Stahl (CBS News) and Pulitzer-winner Studs Terkel. Ragan received a Fulbright Senior Lectureship in poetry to the University of Ljubljana in 1984, and honorary induction into the Russian Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997. An ambassador of the arts, he has read for four heads of state, and read and lectured at universities and writers' conferences worldwide. A native of Pittsburgh, James Ragan has been Director of the University of Southern California's Professional Writing Program since 1981. He studied at St. Vincent College (B.A. English, 1966; Hon. Litt. D. 1990) and Ohio University (M.A. 1967, Ph.D. 1971), and has taught at Cal Tech, Ohio University, The University of Texas, UCLA, and The American College of Greece in Athens.

The Adirondack Review