Issue 55 — 

Henry Hughes
John Taylor

Henry Hughes

Winner of the 2012 Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award
Nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize

Photo by Paul Gentry.


  “He’s big, he’s mean, and he kills a lot of bad guys.
  “No one cared that he was gay.”
  —testimony from a Pentagon report

More than grunts,
we tongue Arabic and Farsi
in the dusty streets and shops. Watching, listening
carefully—very carefully—between
straight black abayas and embroidered white caps.
We’d rather talk them down, but we’ll shoot.
We know the soft and hard of man. Face in the tower,
bulge in the pants. Our M-16s and that nasty SAW
put the queer fear in their Sharia law.
Like Negroes marching on the old South,
we’re a nightmare bayonet up their hanging moons.
Don’t get fucking captured, I tell my men, and they don’t.
Snugging green belts across our tight abs,
we smarten our collars
and slip on those big blonde boots. Fit in? Come on,
we’re good at that. We had to be.
Give us the action
and we can all relax.

Copyright © 2012 by Henry Hughes.

Henry Hughes grew up on Long Island, New York and he has lived in Oregon since 2002. His poems have appeared in Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, Malahat Review, Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, Seattle Review and Poetry Northwest, and are represented in several anthologies including Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets (Oregon State University Press). His first collection, Men Holding Eggs, received the 2004 Oregon Book Award; his second book, Moist Meridian, was chosen by Robert Pinsky as a finalist for the 2011 Oregon Book Award; and his third collection, Shutter Lines, was published in 2012. He is the editor of the anthology, The Art of Angling: Poems about Fishing (Knopf, 2011) and his commentary on new poetry appears regularly in Harvard Review.



John Taylor's translations of
José-Flore Tappy's poetry

from Gravel by José-Flore Tappy

the torrent rises
rips through
the thick fog
crosses all of space

stretching out
towards the lost


           Val Derbon

At dawn
a soaring buzzard
in the sunlight
raises its velvety wings
above a still warm sky

light and hesitating
your hands move
in front of my twilit face
your fingers slip
across my arm
like a timid trickle of water


In the distance
is it perhaps the wind
and its repetitive questions
or your steps
fading away?

I half
at the very end of your voice


Lying barefoot
in the close-cropped grass
we held the earth
that day
like a familiar arm


in order to slide
into the night


Whoever bends over
the sky
sees only heavy swells
and wind deserts

but up there
all dizziness is forgotten

from wave to wave
emptiness carries us
on its back

to the first

when the distances
calm down
near a riverbed


In the hungry night
to take your fingers
one by one into my mouth
beloved grapes
that I leave
on their bunch

for tomorrow

Translation Copyright © 2012 by John Taylor.

John Taylor has recently translated books by Jacques Dupin (Of Flies and Monkeys, Bitter Oleander Press), Philippe Jaccottet (And, Nonetheless, Chelsea), and Pierre-Albert Jourdan (The Straw Sandals, Chelsea). He is also the author of the three-volume essay collection, Paths to Contemporary French Literature (Transaction), and Into the Heart of European Poetry (Transaction). His most recent book is If Night Is Falling (Bitter Oleander Press), a collection of short prose. Born in Des Moines, Taylor has lived in France since 1977.

José-Flore Tappy, Lausanne-born, is the author of five volumes of poetry, all of which are translated in this volume. She has won two prestigious Swiss literary awards: the Ramuz Prize for Errer mortelle and the Schiller Prize for Hangars and her entire oeuvre. Tappy has also written an essay about the artist Loul Schopfer. She has translated Spanish poetry and, with Marion Graf, the poems of Anna Akhmatova. She works as an editor and scholar at the Centre de Recherches sur les Lettres Romandes at the University of Lausanne. Her poetry in translations by John Taylor has appeared in the Antioch Review, International Literary Quarterly, Two Lines, Aysmptote, Rowboat, Thrush, The Bitter Oleander, and Carte Blanche.

Gravier (extraits)

le torrent monte
l’épais brouillard
traverse tout l’espace

vers la lumière


         Val Derbon

Au lever du jour
une buse avec le soleil
très haut
soulève ses ailes de velours
sur un ciel encore chaud

tes mains passent
devant mon visage sombre
hésitantes et légères
tes doigts glissent
sur mon bras
comme timide filet d’eau


Peut-être au loin
est-ce le vent
et ses répétitives questions
ou ton pas
qui s’éloigne ?

je m’éveille
à demi
tout au bout de ta voix


Couchés dans l’herbe rase
pieds nus
on a tenu la terre
ce jour-là
comme un bras familier

à l’aveugle

pour glisser
dans la nuit


Qui se penche
sur le ciel
ne verra que houle
et désert de vent

mais là-haut
tout vertige s’oublie

de vague en vague
le vide nous porte
sur son dos

jusqu’aux premières

quand les distances
se calment
près d’un lit de rivière


Dans la nuit qui a faim
prendre tes doigts
un à un dans ma bouche
raisins tant aimés
que je laisse
à leur grappe

pour demain

Copyright © by José-Flore Tappy from Hangars, Éditions Empreintes, 2006. Reprinted by permission.