In English (originally published in the review Ars Poetica, Bratislava, 2006)

Back in Belleville

Back from our hike in the forest:

In Belleville, a drunk and his three-legged dog walks along,

No worse for wear, shuffling along, and

Life itself is nothing but

Some old three-legged dog with his leash tugging on a wino’s arm.


Back in the apartment,

Amazingly, the neighbors aren’t at each other’s throats (the wife’s a drinker),

And he won’t stand by my door, meowing for chicken:

This is a day of grief,

Because that cardshark Death

Has called in the card of Piou-Piou the cat.


While the aroma of cabbage rises to our floor,

We look at the holes

On the pavement across the street, where two or three cars are parked,

And if it happens to be nice on Sunday,

Let’s say, as we sip our eau de vie,

That we’ll go to the beach and watch the furious sea.


(From Pataquès, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)

The Street

In the street

An American-style playground

Rises up,

And around it in a U,

Two tall buildings

With multi-colored windows

And chains.


Wood and metal beams

Hold up the buildings’ frame

Which is suddenly pierced

By a bullet

Which exposes the basement below.


In the playground, the boys’ bodies glow

With strain,

A walled building is reduced to rubble,

Another one goes up

To be sold to other people,

As usual, it’s the strongest who win.


                  (From Pataquès, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)

Belleville: In the Park


Belleville: in the park

The light forms precise shadows,

As each person walking, seen from above,

Shakes a dark cut-out of himself on the ground,

Doubling his gestures.


In the tiny bistrot

A percolator

Spits and grumbles in the shadows.

An amber and violet pyramid of beer steins

Makes its music in the hot sun.


The trees on the terrace

Sway and shiver above me, distilling light

Drop by drop, oh why can’t I take my time like they do,

Yawning at the sky,

And catch the wind in each branch?


                  (From Pataquès, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)


Your words echo

In the free night air

Across this deserted greenbean of a boulevard,

The poetry, the taxi,

And the wind drive us where they will.


Your sugar-coated honey-filled syllables

Are Arab pastries

To dip my tongue

And sink my teeth into.


I like long nights

With the market stalls

Still standing,

Covered with canvas,

And I like to listen to your careful words pouring forth

While the canvas and the wind play.


  (From Pataquès, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)



The beer is light or dark

At the Balthazar in the Passage de la Pérégrine,

And it plays

As it spurts out, all red,

Foam in the beer-spout

On the counter.


At the tap,

The barkeep rinses the glasses with water

And then serves the beer

In tilted glasses

For the light and dark men

On the stools.


His hand on the handle,

He shows off his bare arm

With its red curly hairs,

And he serves up a Guinness

Or a white beer with a particular taste.



                   (From Pataquès, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)


Childhood, the limits of the world


Thinking that you can walk on water,

That all you need to fly is a jet-propulsion bike,

Mistaking the roof of the Michelin factory

For a mammoth sled,

Believing cats can scratch you

With their pointy whiskers.


(From Vélo vole, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)

Baby Teeth

my baby teeth are wobbling

I pull them out one by one

in front of the mirror

happy to hold them in my hand

then I place them my pride

in an old glass medicine bottle with a rubber stopper

you never know

they might come in handy later on for my dentures


(From Vélo vole, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)


My aunt likes showers

and deplores baths:

she keeps on saying, “you’re simmering in your own slime.”

As for me, slime or no, I love

the bubbles from the blue plastic dolphin with the holes plunging in the water

and I adore the foamy, white, perfumed stalactites

clinging to each of my breasts.


(From Vélo vole, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)

Glowing Night

In the train my ten-year-old boyfriend (or maybe I should say that I am his girlfriend

of the same age) sways back and forth.

The compartment: it’s late, we’re a group of six kids, and after a few songs we wind up

shutting our eyes—everyone but me, anyway—I keep mine open:

of course my boyfriend is sitting across from me.

His head bowed, he drowses

in the gorgeous glow of the lights from the little stations we pass—

it flickers across his face, his hair, his shirt,

all asleep,

sitting there,

a gift for me,

and the night.


(From Vélo vole, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)


When you come out of the Rexy,

Everything sounds louder.

It’s very dark in the Rue Marivaux.

The streetlights

Are streaming with rain.

The lava pavement is a second sky

With its yellow reflections.

I return to darkness, alone (or might as well be),

Heading straight (as it were)

Along the ever-twisting sidewalks.

My click-clacking walk takes me

To the Rue Hippolyte-Gomot;

I’m a cowgirl, a gun moll, a lady detective.

With all these shuttered houses

A setting of black stone,

The phantom city

Suggests a suspense novel,

A movie adaptation

With surround stereo sound.


(From Vélo vole, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)

Bad Rush

an accident someone dies

for no reason it’s not that

people die for a reason

when they’re sick but still

if he hadn’t taken

that road at that time

no one wants to

believe that this is a done deal

oh, if you could only rewind the

movie or better yet turn

it back two full hours

all the actors say

you’ll cut it before the stunt

but the film editor







(From Vélo vole, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)


I come home

to the plain little town where I grew up,

a mountain town

with lava

and covered walkways.


I come home sort of by accident.

Everything in these streets, every bit of the sidewalk, is in my face.

I know every step, every paving stone, every gap in the shutters by heart, and each detail rushes before my eyes.


It feels like I’m walking inside a movie, it’s so weird.


I just wanted to say hello again to this place.

But how to do it?

I know how to give people a hug,


But how can I hug a whole city and take it in my arms?


(From Vélo vole, translated by Julia Simms Holderness)