A ~translation of Guillevic’s “Les Trusts”



for François Billoux




Neither the flowers, nor your girls

Make us a shield


Against your tentacles

Where police move.




You are lanterns of gold

At the end of long hallways

In your offices of wool,


Illuminating nothing,

Going on just to go on.




You rot, you rot

Si lentement,


And when you rot

It isn’t just about you.




But where is humanity

In all this?


For whom

This poem?


Is it for walls

Or for people?


For papers

Or for heads?


They gather together

Like a material.


And it steals and kills

By the millions of bodies.




He sang for you,

L’absurde coucou.


For you, au soleil,

His cri répeté.


For your strongboxes

And your offices,


The cry of the cuckoo

Like alcohol.




We want nothing to do

With your pleasures.


We want nothing to do

With your words.


All we want to do is make

You lose.




Here are the common brooms

And here is the sea.


Listen a little

How it says to you:


Against the future

No force can win.


Listen again

How it says to you:



Cannot hold.




From your offices of wool

You call in the world


And you shake hands

On the loot (lutte?) du jour.


On all points of the globe

You stick your pins.




You are placeless,

You pin the globe.


Your offices of velvet

Have no scenery

To tie themselves to.


The neighborhoods are low,

So low, so far from you.




You hollow out a void

Around each one.


You put up walls

Around each one.


You inhale it all

And leave voids


Ringed by walls,

By ideas of walls.




And between you,

All over the globe,


You’re for one another

And in one another,


Knot of spiders

Melding their legs,


As well as their heads,

To embrace or absorb one another.




If to be a victor

Is to reduce to your mercy


Those who make the earth

Give of itself what you need,


Then you are indeed

So often victors.




A living crow

Cut in half


Whose two red parts

Regard each other,


That’s you and us.




You see everything from on high.

You direct from on high.


You look down,

You observe the downcast.


It’s from down low,

In fact,


Where the people will rise

With their great faces.




—You stick in—

That’s your fate.


And it’s up to us

To rip you out.




You’ll agree:

It’s more than a breeze

That stirs between you

Les fils que vous tenez.


Orage and great wind

Over the capital.





*this ~translation, which leaves some of Guillevic’s French untouched, owes much to Denise Levertov’s ♥♥♥ translation (as published in this New Directions Selected Poems).