William Cliff Poems


the people smoke the people drink something distilled
the people swallow coffee the people eat quantities of meat
they eat the flesh of animals they've killed
the people talk while they eat they stand with their weight on one foot
as they swig their wine the people make babies
while they sleep the people put their bodies together
the people pair up the people without realizing it
in putting their bodies together the people make each other fruitful
and like all the animals in creation
the people reproduce themselves the people enjoy liberation
from their anxieties by propagation

and then when they walk on the pavements of the city
the people smoke again as they wait for the tram
since for the people the tram doesn't come very fast
the people rush onto the tram when it comes at last
and then the tram starts off again as it had come
other people are going to await the coming of the tram
which is going to take them where they want to go
the Nantes tram takes them outside the city
to breathe the air of the birds the people go away
on the Nantes tram to the fresh forests
to refresh their rightful needs

later on the tram the people re-enter Nantes
where they will re-smoke the people will eat meat
and they will re-speak the people will drink wine
they will swallow coffee and after that they
will catch the tram in order to go away
to breathe the air of the birds that chant to Nantes
in full-throated triumph the Immense Existence... more »


my father often complained of aches and pains
he rubbed his back and yelled and swore
or suddenly crushed by an overwhelming fatigue
he fell asleep like a sack of potatoes anywhere

his legs apart chin on his chest
he slept flattened under the weight of work
and sometimes even at table pushing his plate
with his forehead on his hands he fell asleep

then very gently we removed his napkin
under his forehead and his hands we removed the cutlery
we stealthily cleared the table
on tip-toe we abandoned the room

to let him take all his rest as he should
we left him with his forehead resting on the table
where he slept defeated like a dead animal
but later we heard him shout in the room

he yelled because sleep had deserted him
his body hurt and ached all over
his fingers had left red marks on his skin
he woke up angry: it had been so good

to be so far away from all his cares!
and swearing and grumbling he went to Marie
to the kitchen to drink a cup of black coffee
then he went out he started the car we heard

the tyres on the gravel the fear had ended
we resumed our games our fratricidal wars... more »


the rain fell very straight all through the idle night to repeat
the right-angled rain fell on the paving and never ceased
the rain fell from the sky onto the street
made glistening by that water the sky had released

in the solitary night the rain didn't stop falling down
the rain continued to pour its waters quite straight
into the sticky dreams of the man on the ground
who had stopped under the awning of a little shop open late

the very vertical rain fell without stopping
and the man under the awning stood like a hare
watching for ages that rain that was falling
on the glistening cobbles of the solitary street

the rain was beginning to go off
suddenly he ran out into it again
because he was tired of sheltering under that roof
he was bored with staying in the shelter from the rain... more »

William Cliff Quotes

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