Translated by Simon Brown

I hope to be absolved.
I’m making a place for myself in the gutter.
All images exist.
I shed sizes and formats.
I cry over empty holes.
I’m ashamed from above.
My body quivers.
I’ve envied death.
There are colours for the months.
The yellow ones worry me.
At night, I embrace my knot.
I confess.
I hide the place of my humiliation.
My fruit is missing.
I’m already late.
I am failure.
I’ve refused the clouds.
I’ve drunk from the wrong side.
I must be getting lost.
Sentences are gone.
My flowers are fading.
I itemize accessories.
I imitate a pole, I imitate a small block of cement.
I’ve blanched, I’ve moaned, I’ve folded.
I don’t even know what’s wanted of me.
I’m nodding off.
Knowing how to lie is enough.
The stars remain elusive.


We were masks, miracles,
tangled up in excitement,
a long-awaited mystery,
appearances, disappearances,
fake-sounding habits.
I’m writing too late
to turn worry into ice,
caressed fields of wheat.
Further south, everyday rain was no more,
sun melting into
the earth (dry grasses;
slimy, joyless kisses).
Our nights go on, uninterrupted:
planets, moons, missing rocks
move among us, hollow
and greedy goddesses,
their intentions unreadable.
We want to believe
in these curves, these vague lines;
within them, we search in vain
for a sign of our own conniving ways.
Why cut us out?
The meaning lies
at the foot of a constellation.


Sprawled out on the ground,
stiff and hot:
with this dog, a leafy,
protruding bitch,
with sudden wind,
liquid lead, licked
at the surface, with the teeth:
she counted and
recounted her bounty,
patiently, with dances, stitches,
moist hunger.
The night before, she’d let one
of them steal her essence,
her liquids running
with lead, the tongue,
waited for him to wrinkle
up, to collapse, to happen,
with the teeth, waited
for him to lose, for
tables to turn, suddenly,
leaden, with her tongue, a weight:
surprised him, leaden,
held, pushed, watched
him tumble down the slope;
now, in morning stolen menthol
swallowing bitter maté
all wrong, splayed out
against the dog, in the sun –
a deranged eyelid.
With plastered neck, twisted neck.
Someone is approaching
to accuse her.

This short set of poems by Roxane Desjardins is taken from a longer series, CALME, originally published in issue 171 of Estuaire (2017). The series was a finalist for SODEP’s Prix d’excellence for a magazine-based poetry publication. CALME was written as part of the research process for je suis calme et enragé, cela s’appelle la précision, the libretto for a symphony with voice by Symon Henry to be staged in 2020.

_Simon portrait juillet2019Simon Brown is a self-taught poet and interdisciplinary artist from New Brunswick currently based in rural Québec. As a translator, he has adapted texts by Erin Robinsong, Maude Pilon, Angela Carr, Danielle LaFrance and Jacob Wren, among others. His poetry collections and artist books have been published in Québec, Canada and France by Vanloo, Moult, Le laps, squint press, and Paper Pusher. This Mud, A Word is forthcoming later this year in Frog Hollow Press’s New Brunswick chapbook series.

_Roxane Desjardins – portrait d'autriceRoxane Desjardins, born in 1991 in Montréal, is a poet and editor/publisher at Éditions Les Herbes rouges, who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. Her first book Ciseaux (2014) won the Émile-Nelligan and Félix-Leclerc awards; Moi qui marche à tâtons dans ma jeunesse noire (2016) and Le revers (2018) were both finalists for the Governor General’s Literary Awards.