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                        SAY WHAT?

                                                                                         ÇA ?
Tristan Corbière

A treatise? You don’t say! I haven’t treated squat!
A study? Slothful wretch, my culture fetid rot.
A volume? Random heap, sheets stacked in disarray.
Good copy? Not with me enmired in the fray.

A poem? Not today, my lyre is being cleaned.
A book? Of fusty tomes far better to be weaned.
A song? Would that it were, my ear is made of tin.
Fun pastime? Sordid den, dire boredom dwells within.

A cadence? Rhythmic flow is broken by dull grind.
A product? I divide what others multiplied.
A story? Handicapped, my lame and laggard Muse.
Clear proof? My mind is fraught by grief and lit by booze.

High fashion? Wealth and style inform nowhere my dress.
Grandstanding or grand mal? My spasms fail to impress.
Evicted from the hall, I lurk behind the stage,
In transit, poised to choose: a joy house or a cage.

Too old? But to retire, my tenure won’t suffice.
Too young? My hectic life will rid me of this vice.
A sage, a slob, an ace, a master, and a clown,
A stud without a flock, a king without a crown.

THIS is without pretense, and yet a blatant pose.
It’s life and nothing but, confessed in deathless prose.
A masterpiece? Could be, I never made one yet!
A farce? A waste? A bomb? Decide and place your bet!

I bet… and I shall sign herewith my humble name;
My child shall overcome each tainted libel claim.
Through chance it will prevail, its fate a stroke of luck
Art knows me not at all — and I don’t give a fuck.

— traduced by MZ, 6 September 2005

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