Louis-Philippe Dalembert

Two poems by Louis-Philippe Dalembert translated from French by Nancy Naomi Carlson
March 25, 2022 Dalembert Louis-Philippe

for a.o.s.g.


dune of a beauty
that time and lapping winds
hands of sand in a shower of wrath
o lips
hissing heat and dread
in adoring revulsion
hearts bent
in delirious absence
opaque cloud o loud gale
what roots if not of sand
in the shifting wind
dune where well-worn footprints
and then over there
at the end of time
water shimmers
defying space


pour a. o. s. g.


dune d’une beauté
que souchent le temps
et les lèchements du vent
mains de sable en pluie d’ire
ô lèvres
qui sifflent le chaud et l’effroi
en révulsement d’adoration
cœurs fléchis
en délire d’absence
orage ô nuage
quelles racines sinon de sable
dans le vent mouvant
dune où meurent
des pas usagés
et puis là-bas
tout au bout du temps
miroite l’eau
défiant l’espace


the shipwrecked city


drowned in the fog
four syllables crack
like an invisible stinging chicotte
drowned in their memory
in the overflow of their pride and their dead
before emerging, their story
forming the word sarajevo
forming a shipwrecked city
dilapidated sarajevo writhes
at the bottom of its basin
jolts grasps its ghosts
as well as its shadow
searching for a pinch of love
sarajevo surrounded
by its gigantic jailers
of stone greenery and earth
clinging to its steeples
and to its minarets
sarajevo fights struggles
against its angels of death
against this guest
seated one day in her beauty
in her joy unannounced
in her tears and laughter
in her minor daily hassles
in pursuit of bread and love
in her open outstretched hand
what will remain of it at dawn
what libation
for these gods
so close just yesterday
sarajevo drowned
between its pockmarked walls
in the fog


la ville naufragée


dans le brouillard noyées
quatre syllabes claquent
telle chicote invisible et acerbe
noyées dans leur mémoire
dans le trop-plein de leur fierté
et de leurs morts
avant d’émerger leur histoire
formant mot sarajevo
formant ville naufragée
sarajevo s’agite délabrée
au fond de sa cuvette
tressaute empoigne ses fantômes
son ombre aussi
en quête d’une pincée d’amour
sarajevo ceinturée
de ses gigantesques geôliers
de pierre de verdure et de terre
agrippée à ses clochers
et à ses minarets
sarajevo se bat se débat
contre ses anges de la mort
contre cette invitée
assise un jour dans sa beauté
sans s’annoncer
dans sa joie sans s’annoncer
dans ses pleurs dans son rire
dans ses petites tracasseries du quotidien
dans sa quête du pain et de l’amour
dans sa main ouverte et tendue
sans s’annoncer
qu’en restera-t-il à l’aube
quelle libation
adresser à ces dieux
hier encore si proches
sarajevo noyée
entre ses murs vérolés
dans le brouillard

Louis-Philippe Dalembert, born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is a critically acclaimed poet, novelist, short story writer, and essayist who was a finalist for the 2019 Prix Goncourt. A Chevalier in the French Order of Arts and Letters, he was called by Edwidge Danticat “one of the most imaginative and prolific writers of his generation.” His work has been translated into multiple languages, including Danish, German, Portuguese, Romanian, and Serbo-Croatian. Although one novel has been translated into English, none of his poetry books has been published in English.