May 15 2017

The Life Fact Shines

Eleni, don’t drive so fast


In my house I have a girl, a funny
little blonde, & a window, take
stock, a rose bush that keeps her
(the soul) from flying off
two legs thus far hold me pinned to the ground
and still ten fingers clacking around
the cups and plates of the house
In that house, I have a dictionary
of fabulous, ominous words     others
with words in French, in Greek
The words never match up   like two left
hands facing each other   hand la main    the outlines are messy
hold up life & life & try to trace them: the moving
shadows and their figurines bleed
which is to say I see     I am not in love with
my objects but I am in love with
their colors   I am in love with their
curves but not in love with their
tenacity   I hate & love their entropy, bury
the picture in the background, the little bird
in the back
the cracked blue cup in the dirt
the mouse the cats dug up
the gutted corpse of the raccoon   the new
old moon   the gate & the broken door
glass shards in the garden

Eleni Sikelianos is the author of the just released, Make Yourself Happy (Coffee House Press 2017)You Animal Machine, The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead (Coffee House Press, 2014/2013), Body Clock (Coffee House Press, 2008), The Book of Jon (City Lights Publishers, 2004), The California Poem (Coffee House Press, 2004), The Monster Lives of Boys & Girls (Green Integer, 2003), Earliest Worlds (Coffee House Press, 2001), The Book of Tendons (Post-Apollo Press, 1997), and To Speak While Dreaming (Selva Editions, 1993). She has won numerous awards for her writing, has taught at Naropa and the University of Denver. This fall she will begin her tenure as part of the the teaching faculty of Brown University. She rocks.


May 14 2017

Are the children opening mouths like hungry saxophones
Clamoring for bread from my bread music?

This exhale of ours bellows in and out
And does not look like a wind instrument

Must be a fool’s hat collecting coins
Never earned by my frail mouth, not like Coltrane

We never slept in the same bed
Coltrane and I: in the same bed I’d fumble.

Yet you wind inside of me and I become your instrument
Now the breasts on my lips

Soft like the rolls I’d bake
When I finally clamored myself to you

Earning that key no door will unlock
I wake to find you seamed against me, Coltrane.

Sexe avec Coltrane

Est-ce que les enfants ouvrent la bouche comme des saxophones affamés
Réclamant du pain de ma musique à pain?

Cette expiration de nous braille aller retour
Et ne ressemble pas à un instrument à vent

Doit être une sébile qui collectionne les pièces
Jamais gagnées par ma bouche fragile, pas comme Coltrane.

Nous n’avons jamais dormi dans le même lit
Coltrane et moi: dans le même lit je me serais échappée.

Pourtant, vous vous retrouvez à l’intérieur de moi et je deviens votre instrument
Maintenant, les seins sur mes lèvres

Doux comme les rouleaux je cuirais
Quand je me suis finalement réclamé de vous

Gagner cette clé qu’aucune porte ne déverrouillera pas
Je me réveille pour vous trouver sertis contre moi, Coltrane.

Originally published in the bilingual edition of Pussy

This is actually the poem referred to in the November 2014 issue of Vanity Fair in their article about Shakespeare and Company. It is the only poem I read in French.


Vanity Fair: November 2014 Issue


Reading “Sex with Coltrane” at Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France 2014


Cover painting by Jean-Noel Chazelle