April In Paris Poem by Hugo Maurice Julien Claus

April In Paris

(in 1951,
when Charlie Parker was still alive)

The undulating bars of Avenue des Champs

oh high pale fields
there a child dances losing
helplessly all winter notes of sorrow and
death and hunger Goodbye hello grey days
among the plaster notes oh song of the parks

yes we are lost we want
rain and hail
not to return to that slow land
of oxen and potato fields and when I was in the polders
I would set fire to three villages there
and plant a tree there and build a house
and go to live there and blow on a horn
so the crows passed it on
so the ravens on fire flew out of the trees
so the young wood split and the land
trembled in furrows but I am in the light
you see me come and say hello
April day

Élysées and the street ends in a calm river
ends as one: hello Charlie how are you?

as if the summer comes without suspicion without
safe hands
not curbed not prevented by
- I already know I knew it I have
the whole time (time with hips and organs) known it -
the safe hands of knowledge and memory and
premature death and
so I was no more there tomorrow in the summer

yes ends as a: hello Charlie go and lie in the sand
the king drinks oh corals and ores
in me spattered apart


lower now and tender as the cobweb the slime of the hay-spider
like the coloured spotted pupil of a strong green animal

ah a hundred shrubs
blossoming edge of things
while in


- hello Charlie blood-stained goshawk high voice
that stalks my passages and causes me to walk with a new face
with an animal look through the summer evening street -

the three women of the morning clamber on each other
and the lanterns go out
while in the golden plain
the grey night-woman flees from the gardens
and the cardinal pees into the hedges

and yes listen
we greet each other
hello king
hello prince

and the conversation of the royalists lights up
our sleeping house and day takes cover
in the stumbling stones

the president will die
so does the very first newspaper vendor call to us
this too then we will survive once more

the night is a woman
oh a hundred thousand lips
and with the morning two identical mournful Chinamen
enter our waking house
and say unheard sentences with their hands
about castles or prisons
(they look through the bars of their fingers)

and we in this white and everyday Paris
we become water and flow open
and all at once have moved houses
and no longer find the morning and think Chinese
and dive under bridges and are the Seine

supposing the morning was Oriental
supposing cheng-wa now was: the sun rises
or was: the sun sets
or was: a large fish or fishfeed
or was: we want bread and have sleep

the hit-sick fingers of the day
stroke the face of the streets open

the day is a second woman
oh a hundred thousand lips.

Translation: John Irons

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