Habituated / Accoutumé : Anthony Seidman

Nous publions ci-dessous un poème d'Anthony Seidman (suivi de sa traduction en français), paru pour la première fois dans le numéro 5 du Black Herald (mai 2015). On trouvera aussi, dans ce même numéro et du même auteur, un autre poème intitulé ‘Coatlicue, whose name means “serpent skirt”’ (et sa traduction française, « Coatlicue, dont le nom signifie “jupe de serpents” »).

We publish below a poem by Anthony Seidman (alongside its French translation), which first appeared in issue 5 of The Black Herald (May 2015). In the same issue, we had also published another poem by Anthony (‘Coatlicue, whose name means “serpent skirt”’), also translated into French.



A beast hunkers in my fist

and shivers when fingers open.

I snuff his fire in a forest

where wolves sniff afterbirth,

crack the bones, and chew the flesh

pooled atop beds of pine.

Or slowly, with the patience

of a mole sniffing for light, or water

rising through roots until reaching leaf,

I warm his breath within me.

My chest trembles, not

from chill, not grief, simply

the beast shaking the bars, pacing

the dirt floor of his cage.

He is what licks hands from the other side of knowing.

He is the black tongue and singed paw.

Come peer a cold eye. Feed him; you must.


Une bête accroupie dans mon poing

frémit quand s’ouvrent les doigts.

Je flaire son feu dans une forêt

où les loups hument l’arrière-faix,

brisent les os et mâchent la chair

amassée sur des lits d’aiguilles de pins.

Ou bien lentement, avec la patience

d’une taupe qui renifle en quête de lumière, ou de l’eau

qui s’élève dans les racines pour atteindre la feuille,

je réchauffe son souffle en moi.

Ma poitrine tremble, non pas

de froid, ni de chagrin, c’est simplement

la bête qui secoue les barreaux, arpentant

le sol terreux de sa cage.

Elle est ce qui vous lèche la main de l’autre côté du savoir.

Elle est la langue noire et la patte roussie.

Venez la scruter d’un oeil glacial. Nourrissez-la; il le faut.

© Anthony Seidman / Blandine Longre pour la traduction, 2015.

Anthony Seidman (born in Los Angeles in 1973) is a poet and translator who has lived for significant stretches of time in Ciudad Juarez and Mexicali. He is the author of several poetry collections, including On Carbon-Dating Hunger(Bitter Oleander Press), as well as The Motel Insomnia, created by Jean-Claude Loubières (AdeLeo Editions) and Cosmic Weather (Spuyten Duyvil). His translations include For Love of the Dollar: A Portrait of the Artist as an Undocumented Immigrant (Unnamed Press) by Mexican “Gonzo-journalist” J. M. Servin; A Stab in the Dark (LARB Classics) by Facundo Bernal, and Smooth-Talking Dog: Poems by Roberto Castillo Udiarte (Phoneme Media). Later this year, Cardboard House Press will publish his translation of Rodolfo Hinostroza’s Contra Natura. Seidman was a contributing editor for Dispatches from the Poetry Wars. His work has appeared in journals and anthologies like New American Writing, Latin American Literature Today, World Literature Today, Poetry International, Huizache, Rattle, The Black Herald, Nimrod, The Ecopoetry Anthology, and in Latin American journals like Critica (University of Puebla), Generacion Alternativa (Mexico City), and Aerea (Chile). He recently translated poems by Enriqueta Ochoa (Caesura Magazine).

Forthcoming collection : That Beast in the Mirror / Cette bête dans le miroir (Black Herald Press).