Louis Calaferte

May 13, 2012 Louis Calaferte



A woman was choked by a metal shackle

in the holding cell

at the Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix America.



She tried to force it off her body backwards.

But the stick didn’t feel so it had no will to cooperate.

It got stuck against her neck.



She probably tasted salt on her lips

and on her cheeks

beside check-in when she panicked.



A child-like cry

led to playing tiger with forked paw and drag

across the airport floor.



Pulses like knocks took over her throat

and her protest I’m just a mother,

made her a terrorist.



Another woman who died

and came back to life said, Like here

it all depends on your attitude, on the other side.

Louis Calaferte (1928-1994) was one of most prolific and controversial French writers of the twentieth century. Consisting of over ninety titles, his published oeuvre includes some forty poetry collections, six volumes of collected plays, an extraordinary rich series of notebooks, several books of short prose, and much-debated novels such as Requiem des innocents (1952), Septentrion (1963), or La Mécanique des femmes (1992)—the latter published in an English translation at Northwestern University Press as The Way It Works with Women. Drafted at the very end of his life and issued posthumously, Le Sang violet de l’améthyste (1998) offers an essential key to the unity of this multifarious body of work. An interconnected sequence of poems, short prose narratives, quotations, and aphorisms, the book brings out all his characteristic themes and displays his various writing styles.