Algeria: Prison Bestiaries | Jean Senac

I love you that’s true I love you that’s false
crows on my tongue
wage war with swallows
we’ve got blackness inside our backs

But if one day the beloved
or the beauty comes along
we find our spinning tops again
sunlight scars the water

All around the air thins
we throw a shovel
of earth on the thighs
the ivy comes into focus

Migratory pleasures
you bequeath to the heart
decaying nymphs
and we go on living
gropingly under the waves
like crayfish

I love you
for you I write poems
to stop thinking
drunk on images
I invent margins
to prolong you

If I had at least
your name to speak
o my unknown my madwoman of the streets
honored in my veins
like a king by his empire

My needle of gold missing in the hay!



JEAN SÉNAC (1926-1973) was an Algerian poet who wrote about the fight for Algerian independence in French. This poem was translated from French by Justin Vicari.


The African Book Review is posting a poem from each of Africa’s 55 countries over the next few weeks. Poem suggestions can be sent through the comments form below. ‘Like’ us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to read all the poems.

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