from No Way in the Skin without this Bloody Embrace by Jean D’Amérique

Translated by Conor Bracken

Born in Haiti in 1994, Jean D’Amérique is a poet, playwright, and novelist. He splits his time between Paris, Brussels, and Port-au-Prince. He has published several collections of poetry: Petite fleur du ghetto (Atelier Jeudi Soir), recipient of a special mention from the Prix René Philoctète; Nul chemin dans la peau que saignante étreinte (Cheyne), Prix de Poésie de la Vocation; and Atelier du silence (Cheyne). Author of several plays, he has received the Prix Jean-Jacques Lerrant des Journées de Lyon des Auteurs de Théâtre for Cathédrale des cochons (éditions Théâtrales). His first novel, Soleil à coudre, is out now from Actes Sud. This is his first appearance in English.

from No Way in the Skin without this Bloody Embrace

for Aleppo and other ruins

The dreams sleep naked so the graves have clothes.
Tomorrow is ashamed to break its shells. Hope
is hot beer poured into a hangover. Tomorrow is
for the young, they say. But hush up. Children are
dying in the day’s soft chop, children are dying from
a fiery hunger. From cancer of the brain or cancer
of the mind, they’re dying. They die totally frozen
inside the sun of a vicious world.
There is no parenthesis for death.

rainbow lanes
through the murky waters of history
we are not the nightmare’s sperm
in humanity’s pupils
not just a scrap of earth
our heads
aren’t uncomplicated pebbles
our heads
aren’t pebbles without speech

that said
the world swallows us
like an army of dust
who finds safety
in the hands of the wind

We drink up death with no glass spasm, ignoring all
the while however the taste of carcass. _One car-
cass, two carcasses, some carcasses. We love taking
account, we are learning how to count. One hundred
people disappeared near here, a thousand killed over
there, three thousand collapsed in a distant island
cliff. It’s forgotten in a flash if it’s not forgotten
soon. We spit on life, skin history with the blades
of ego, we really only know how
to spit.

Jean D’Amérique, Nul chemin dans la peau que saignante étreinte, Cheyne éditeur, 2017.
© Cheyne éditeur, all rights reserved.


Conor Bracken is the author of the chapbook Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour (Bull City Press, 2017), and the translator of Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine’s Scorpionic Sun (CSU Poetry Center, 2019). His first full-length collection of poetry, The Enemy of My Enemy is Me, will be published by Diode Editions in June, 2021.

Back to Issue: Spring 2021