In My Hot Little Hands


Sits a brilliant edition of the late works of Guilllaume Apollinaire, translated by Donald Revell, The Self-Dismembered Man. The poem below (sorry, the tabs are off) echoed the imagined gunners of Iraq in my head tonight … a good poem knows not the limits of man-made time.

[Oh, now I am adding text to make the poem start below the photo of Guillaume Apollinaire, who served his country’s war. Also, I drank a small bottle of Nama Sake made from organic rice that was given to me tonight. I’ve got mad hook-ups at the local sushi bar, if I spoke like my students. Which I do not.]

Sighs of the Dakar Gunner

In the log dugout camouflaged by reeds
Alongside colorless north-facing artillery
I dream the African village
Where we danced where we sang where we made love
And made long
Noble joyful speeches


I see my father again who fought
The Ashantis
In the English service
I see my sister again with her mad laugh
Her breasts hard as bombshells
And I see
My mother again the sorceress who alone of all the villagers
Refused salt
Pounding the millet in a mortar
I remember something so delicate so disturbing
A fetish in a tree
And the double fetish of fecundity
Eventually a severed head
Beside a marshland
O pallor of my enemy
It was a silver head
And in the marshes
It was the moon shining
It was still a silver head
Overhead the moon danced
It was still a silver head
I ws invisible in the grotto
It was still a Negro head in the deep night
Resemblances Pallors
And my sister
Went off later with a rifleman
Killed at Arras


To know how old I am
I’d have to ask the bishop
So tender so tender with my mother
Like butter like butter with my sister
It was in a hut
Less savage than this dugout
I’ve known the hunters’ ambush in the marshland
Where the giraffe drinks with her legs spread wide
I’ve known the horror of an enemy who lays waste
The village
Rapes the women
Steals the girls
And steals the boys whose hard bottoms twitch
I’ve carried the administrator for weeks at a time
Village to village
And I was a servant in Paris
I don’t know how old I am
But at the draft board
They said twenty
I’m a soldier of France and so they bleached me white
Sector 59 in God knows where
Why is whiteness better than blackness
Why not dance and make speeches
Eat and then sleep afterwards
And we shoot at the German supply lines
Or at the barbed wire in front of the dogfaces
Under the metal storm
I remember a horrid lake
And couples chained by atrocious love
A wild night
A night of sorcery
Like tonight
Where many horrid eyes
Burst in the gorgeous sky

Selected Later Poems of Guilllaume Apollinaire: The Self-Dismembered Man (translated by Donald Revell)

3 Responses to “In My Hot Little Hands”

  1. Mr. Horton Says:
    June 25th, 2006 at 9:46 am eAre these side-by-side translations? G, as you know, was very particular of word arrangement on a page.

    Thanks for the pointer.


  2. Amy King Says:
    June 25th, 2006 at 2:47 pm eThey are side-by-side and seem very well done — not too many reviews out just yet though.

    You’re welcome~

  3. Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Says:
    June 28th, 2006 at 1:27 am ePost War Neorealism sure does take the “reality” out of reality TV, doesn’t it?

Poetry War

AMY KING View All →

Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.

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