Paul Legault's "In The Zone"

IN THE ZONE


Finally, you're tired of being tired
just because the world is.

LITTLE SHEEP: We are little bridges
     that are sheep.
THE EIFFEL TOWER: Virgil died.
     Homer did that too.
RELIGION: I'm open to things 
     like Papa Pie X.
INDUSTRIAL ROAD: Come and get it.

The windows are looking at you.
Noise is a nameless bird

that is a parakeet and noon.
BABY: Mom made me be a baby.

RENÉ DALIZE: Me and the baby stayed up inappropriately
     late and adorable in the profundity of our amethysts.
THE FLAMBOYANT GLORY OF CHRIST: I'm a pretty li'l lily
     and a redhead

(in that my hair is on fire).
My mother is sad. The star has six branches.

I hold the world record for getting up there past the aviators.
It's that I'm god is why.

THE 20TH CENTURY: Eat your heart out, Amelia Earhart.
     I'm a bird that's also an eye.
EYEBIRD: If it lifts,
     it's a lifter.
THE ORIGINAL AIRPLANE: Me, Icarus, Enoch, and
     Apollonius (from Tyana) are hanging out
      like priestesses in an owl-swarm.
THE FLYING MACHINE: Put enough birds in it.

Get one of each of them
and the first skull of the first human machine.

A phoenix and a peacock and a dove and a flamingo
     and a crow fly into a bar.
     I walk out alone into Paris.
DARK MUSEUM: Look closely.

NOTRE DAME: Someone put some blood in it.
WHAT YOU CAN'T STOP SEEING: I can't sleep either, but
     I can

hover just above your face.
Let's get on a boat with our friends from everywhere,

despite the giant squids,
and hunt the imaginary fish.

SOMEWHERE NEAR PRAGUE: It's nice to not write novels
     and to think about what roses would do
     if you were a rosebug in the rose.
LAZARUS: I like the ghetto where the clocks move backwards
     and the drunks sing.
A MILLION WATERMELONS: Marseille is nice,
     because it has a million watermelons.
YOU: This hotel is for giants.

Bad taste makes things pretty.
I like Latin Cubicula locanda

and that I've visited Gouda.
THE JUDGE: Sadness is terrible,
     since it's what happiness is.

LOVE: I hate twenty-somethings.
HANDS: Do not mention the hands.

We lived
like a fool

a lot.
Sometimes we mentioned the hands.

ANY MOMENT: The sad things frighten you.
ANY OTHER MOMENT: There's a child at the train station
     and gold in Argentina.
DIVE BAR: I've seen you in me and in a café.
NIGHT: I'm in my large restaurant tonight.

I left
like someone named Ferdine.

They say that creatures are poor.
EVIL: I'm just a little over it.

THE UGLIEST: I'm from New Jersey.
GOD-FETISH: Let's do some shots.

The morning's about to happen.
Sun + Decapitation =


ON "IN THE ZONE"

This is a "distranslation" of the first poem in Alcools, by Guillaume Apollinaire. To say that I wrote it is less an offense than to say I translated it. Though it has everything to do with its correspondent text, the purpose of writing through "Zone" was not to reproduce it but to create an original work—the only real impediments put on the piece being its influences, which are many.

From the de Campos brothers who "translated" Apollinaire's Calligrammes into a theory of Concrete Poetry, to Louis Zukofsky's bilingual Le Style Apollinaire, in which LZ collages the poet's work and criticism together with his own, to bpNichol's seminal text of experimental translation: Translating Translating Apollinaire, Guillaume Apollinaire has been a locus for postmodern translation. That it's nearly "Zone"'s centenary is a happy coincidence. The century was a time-cycle that Apollinaire favored, and that favored him as one of modernism's skeleton keys.

What rises up from the literal is the dual crosses an airplane and Jesus make, and the sun over the horizon like a head from its guillotine—as this is a poem of revolution. But I don't know what that adds up to. Thus: "Sun + Decapitation = ," instead of "Soleil cou coupé," instead of "Sun cut throated," instead of "Sun slit throat," instead of "Sun a severed head," instead of...

It's pure folly to approach Apollinaire thinking to be the first to do that. Then at least "In the Zone" is 'pure' in its errors. I can do no harm to him, and mean none by this—or mean only the same harm the original meant to inflict on "this ancient world."


BIO


Paul Legault is the author of three books of poetry: The Madeleine Poems (Omnidawn, 2010), The Other Poems (Fence, 2011), and The Emily Dickinson Reader (McSweeney's, forthcoming). He co-edits the translation press Telephone Books.

* * *

Poem reprinted with the permission of the author. All rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 
 

Continue browsing In Their Own Words