Joyce Mansour

Horizon of the Blind

Speckled peacock
With twin erections
With extreme ejaculations
You fix your penis to the sunset wheel
In line with the family
In me the colorful seed shines
The cry gushes in wreaths
You cum
I love the summer the dust the hazardous wheat
Of the desert
That plows the west wind and the geometric bedouin
On his donkey
When he wakes
The horror sucks back the uneasy breath
The sun sets forever
                                           behind the toothless
                                                                             without gold
On the wickerwork of an ammonite brain
The day that you empty your loins
In the throat of another girl
Yes I am jealous
Rough-handed solitude reeks of the carcass
The sand left to its own devices drifts towards the sigh
The night digs a hole
At the depths of the impasse called pain of the others
And the bone of my bones
The left-handed shadow of my love
Desire without tenderness or verb in support
My night even my life
Between my fingers
Between my thighs
Under the sheets
And the bed
It is better to spread your butter on the sad cobblestones
Of the bed frame
Than to rotate around your eternally spinning sex
With splayed orbs in fine lace
And vagabond spirals

A man is waiting for me
I glide smooth and soapy
Between two rows of palm trees
And layers of dead
Towards his mouth for which my sex swells
Spatters gnashes and sizzles
Beneath my feet the complacent ice bank
He sleeps in the cellar
The door is blocked
Carpet climbs the walls
Behind the screen a beaming muzzle
Whispers let yourself go
No one is normal in the dreams of another
Like an ink stain in a prepubescent palm
Without losing a few teeth
O slow moving eyes of obedient childhood
Squeaks creaks steamy kisses
Grease stains on the yeast of the venomous
Fake exit comedies and elastic nipples
A few sharp blows on the fingers of seated religion
A few tombs under the restless sand
Even the diggers of mass graves wear masks
How else to accompany the last rites of the clandestine rattle
If not with a cry
I am hungry
Will I be able to devour the blunt tool
Will I be able to swallow the bland chlorophyll
Will I be able to chop down the green thumb
The pillar the palm tree the pelt the legend
Without squirting mud between my splayed toes
A man is waiting for me in the obscure silence
Of the tomb
An oyster floats in his limp hat
His penis fled in a snail costume
To flee is not enough to lift your eyes
Little girl I slept naked
Naked like Jericho
For once

Translated from the French by C Francis Fisher

Joyce Mansour (1928–1986) was born in England to Syrian-Jewish parents. Soon after her birth, the family moved to Cairo, where Mansour lived until she was forced to emigrate. She settled in Paris in 1953, where she continued writing and became a key member of the postwar Surrealist milieu. Mansour published sixteen books of poetry in her lifetime as well as prose and theater pieces. She died of cancer in Paris in 1986.

C. Francis Fisher received her MFA in poetry from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, The Yale Review, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. Her poem, "Self-Portrait at 25" was selected for the 2021 Academy of American Poets Prize and "Hotel in Sfakia" was a finalist for the James Hearst Award in Poetry. She has been supported by fellowships from Brooklyn Poets and the Vermont Studio Center. In the Glittering Maw: Selected Poems of Joyce Mansour appears with World Poetry in M