Thursday, August 27, 2015

sutra with sunflowers & you

sunflowers aspire curbside: yellow
explosion of kitchen clocks—
            petals marking ticks against
permanence, which just now equals sky blue sky &
            white sun we can’t see past or into—black
brush stroke service wires below—contrails aloft—

everything in this story connects:
sunflowers my height plus a hand reaching
             you (not “you”) in a photo planting a
sacred fig in another country under another
             of these zillion suns: as blinding—

the fig your height plus a hand reaching skyward—
brown leaves green leaves scattered in
             gestures of resignation across
ground cleared of land mines—fig sapling aspiring
             to shade the next enlightenment—

what sunlight’s flash & blaze divulge: these zillion
dust motes flutter encompassing each a
             cosmos swirling in anguish & seeking—each
day seeking you again for the first time:
             I need to make over my life—

a yellow clock’s hands sweep imperceptible
circles until this afternoon crescent lost
            outside in light sets itself in
motion toward a sunset’s moonrise
& at last the big seed heads bow in late afternoon

Jack Hayes
© 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015



The traveller who crossed the Halles at the end of summer
Was walking on her tiptoes
And across the sky despair furled its big calla lilies such beauties
And in the handbag was my dream that bottle of salt
Solely breathed by God’s godmother
Torpors spread out like steam
At the Smoking Dog Café
Where Pro and Con had just entered
The young woman could be seen only poorly and in profile
Was I dealing with the ambassadress of saltpeter
Or the white curve against the black background which we call thought
The ball of the innocents was in full swing
The lanterns caught fire slowly in the chestnut trees
The lady who cast no shadow knelt down on the Pont au Change
In Rue Gît-le-Cœur the pealing was no longer the same
Night’s promises were kept at last
The carrier pigeons the emergency kisses
Joined with the beautiful unknown one’s breast
Thrusting under the crepe of perfect meanings
A farm prospered in the midst of Paris
And its windows looked out on the Milky Way
But no one was living in it on account of the guests
The guests that one knows are more devoted than ghosts
The ones like that woman seemed to be swimming
And into love there enters a little of their substance
She takes them in
I am not the plaything of any sensory power
And yet the cricket that sang in the ashen hair
One evening near the statue of Etienne Marcel
Shot me a knowing glance
André Breton it said may pass through

André Breton
Translation by Jack Hayes

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

love song with butterflies

the flock of cabbage whites rises up from the sweet pea,
grapevines, blackberries twisted through chain link along
Vancouver—if they’re really a flock of ghosts basking in
August heat they remember nothing not even your
face—just imagine!—intent as they are on the parking
strip Queen Anne’s Lace, as oblivious to the howl of the 44
bus, only noting the woman pushing a blue
stroller when trying to occupy the same space, which
they do not want—if one in their midst is dreaming
he’s Chuang Tzu dreaming himself a butterfly no
change takes place
                if one in their midst is Chuang Tzu
dreaming he is the butterfly they are occupying the same space

i think i want to occupy the same space as you for
moments in time on this August afternoon—& what says
desire like a queen size mattress taking the sun on a
brown lawn flanked by Japanese maples?—they remember
nothing not even your asymmetrical face & as always
you’re elsewhere—still I glimpse my reflection in this
plate glass window—beard streaked white as if this flock of
cabbage whites was about to rise up—as if
they’re really a flock of ghosts electrified by
desire & the parking strip’s purple clover
                    the same space
from the inside not reflected & all at once

if i could set aside desire in a box my grandfather carved with rose blossoms
if i could set aside desire in a box my father crafted with two veneer hearts on top
if i could set aside desire in a box of ashes

this ghost that ghost the ghost inscribed with your full name


Jack Hayes
© 2015

Monday, August 17, 2015

"On Death's Road"

On Death's Road
On Death's road,
My mother met a huge ice-floe;
She wanted to speak,
It was already too late,
A huge cotton ice-floe.
She looked at us my brother and me,
And then she cried.
We told her— truly absurd lie— that we understood completely.
Then she smiled this delightful smile a really young girl's,
It was truly her,
Such a pretty smile, almost mischievous;
Then she was snatched into the Opaque.

Henri Michaux
translation by Jack Hayes


Image links to its source on
1927 drawing by Henri Michaux