Selected poems

Translated by Alexis Bernaut

© Ed. Bruno Doucey, 2011, 2016


I had thought of leaving
before the end of the day

Avoiding the stir
set off light
and not to be a burden on anyone

But I must make up my mind
and tie up the boat
to the heavy rings of the port, again
because it is late, tonight,

Too late to set sail.

I have no pain
I have no need
and no exile to call my own

I have simply lost
the woman I loved.

The suffocation, obviously
The why? – obviously
A voiceless scream in the depth of the shadow

Yet something
tells us we should wait

Which we will have to name

Something simple.


To cancel the distance
that set us apart from monsters
and give them a warmer welcome

And thus
the shadow recovers its place
in the poem’s enclosure

And thus
is a truce possible.


Sand bites the skin

It reminds us
where we come from

Let us not fear
that the wave will devour us

The ebb will come.


It looks dark
in this part of the forest

A mere glow
among impatient tree trunks
seems to invite us there

There is no nature
no green, no birds

Just a terrible scare

That swarms, seeps in
and raises its borders
intending to take us in

We wouldn’t normally go
we would run for our lives

We would run fast enough
for our tears to dry

But not this time.

This time we stay.

We move forth.

We rush in.

To bring down the screams
to get the animals out
to sound the song

Like a deflagration
which settles the place
of new assemblies

A glade

A simple glade.


I am not from these parts
and cannot understand myself
if I do not consent
to be the son of the dunes

I am not from these parts
and cannot understand myself
if I refuse this tongue
whose perfume is too sweet

I am not from these parts
and cannot understand myself
if I leave the corals
stripped of their colours

If the dawn only thinks of
discharging the night.


My grandfather passed down
his malicious calm to me

A calm from that country
which is a part of me
with no other demand

That one which the wind leads
far beyond the time
of exile and shadows

That one which I’m reminded of
by that shiver in your eyes

As if as usual.


Yes, tonight, once again
I have listened to your voice

Within it, I saw your smile
reflected upon the dyke

Your smile advised me to love
and not wait for the dawn.


A surface of sand

In the distance, the sea. Wind.

The image gets blurred

You bend forth and pick up
a pebble, and then another

Carefully, you gather
these old witnesses of the world

As if they could break open
and as if your warmth
guaranteed their survival

« Pebbles matter, »
you say

You are beautiful.


The most beautiful conquest
is a matter of moments

Red-handed being.


Imagine a ship
abandoned at port
which, one night, decides
to set sail

A breeze helps her
and her anchor breaks free
and her bow of dust
adorns itself with silver and gold

Happy as she can feel
the wind fill her sails
get close to the stars
charm the seagulls

One day, she’ll be back
and before she burns down
in a huge bonfire
she’ll tell us all about it.



© Ed. Bruno Doucey, 2013


The bookshelves are filled
with adventure novels
and with the story of men

Within a few hours, the foehn
has ripped the flesh from the trees

Alphabet is but
an ascertainment.

The place where a poem
is outlined, matters

In front of a window
in front of cut stones
in front of a world map

In front of a world map. Absolutely.

The place where a poem
is outlined, matters

It marks things out.


What do the trees do
when they get bored?

The trees place bets
on which one will fall asleep

To the glory of the oak
and to the scorn of roses.


Who, among us, has made it?
Who has managed to garner
enough lifeblood
to earn recognition?
To slow down oxidization?

To erase all the names
carved within the rocks
To regain that little emptiness
to be able to think of you
To require, between us,
tiny ethics only, and nothing more,
stuffed in our pocket.


We lay our hands
for the warmth
to reach you
Already guarding you from
fragile tenderness.

We will give this world to you
For you to deal with it
to give up
and start again
And maybe one day
we shall be confident there
Not yet knowing whether
we will be able or not
You already question.


to have followed the snail on the wet step

To have remembered raising them
as a child

Then to have mowed the lawn
and tended the old wood

To breathe calmly
at the sun goes down
lighting up the mountain
which we have climbed

Tonight, we shall walk
atop the village
to admire the bonfire
of our feasting canton

And already explain to him
that he is at home here.


A twisted trombone
arrests the gaze

One must remember
before considering
this new form

Accept that we
shall henceforth be those lookouts

That you may grow up
and tell someone about it.

I will not have you
bear the weight of the world
Well, I’ll try
Your smile will help.

And you, you appear

You set the world afire
with a single finger-match.


Please note that, come what may
these poems
express a patch of earth
written down for you to keep
something from the sand

What it owes to the rock
despite erosion

Rebellion will maybe
win over eventually

And lines, suddenly decalcified,
will maybe break

So, take a rest
don’t ever stop loving
and don’t listen to what they say

And don’t listen to me

One fine morning the song
will once again be yours

Rare Earth it shall be.




I am looking at the tree outside my window
the tree outside my window brims over my street
the tree outside my window that brims over my street is a beautiful tree

I will leave it tomorrow
the tree outside my window that brims over my street

I will leave my window
I will leave my street
I will leave the keys
in the heart of its trunk

For it to brim over the town
for it to brim over the eyes
of those who will watch
the tree outside their window.


I am waiting
I am waiting for you to
I am waiting for it
I am waiting for them
to move

take everything
transport it
drop it off

I’ll put myself there
with you
with it

And I’ll wait.


You are looking at the sky

You do not know yet whether
there are more skies
and yet more skies

Will their names eventually come out?

We shall be patient
and tame the clouds.


What we owe the trees
would be something
which nothing could replace which nothing could reach
which nothing could extinguish
which nothing can

What we owe to the trees
you do not owe a thing

they give you everything
they give you nothingthey ask for nothing
they are asking for you but
you cannot hear

When one should
surrender everything
to them.


Hard labour.

We restlessly dredge
the bottom of the river
to carry the soaked
sand ashore

It will wait for the rise
to help build
a hospital, a prison

Or your house.

A coat of cold
in a full night’s
full moon
With the simple hope
that we shall embrace each other

Settling in a gesture
to remain in motion
Diving in the current
to give up fighting
Weary of the night
stripping down the blue
Sit down
Just sit down

Seeding the seconds for you
so as to make you grasp
the space of a minute
And surprising myself finding
that time is dragging.

Stop pruning
Remove the residue
of civilizations
Let the moss

(Poems by Stéphane Bataillon, Translated by Alexis Bernaut)