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Spring/Summer 1997, Volume 14.2



Jean-Mark Sens

Jean-Mark Sens (Ph.D. U of Southern Mississippi) is teaching at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. His poems have appeared in
Exquisite Corpse, The Black River Review, Cape Rock, International Poetry Review, Nexus, Faultline, Cimarron Review and others.


Max Jacob: "On n'écrit jamais que ses memoires"

Max Jacob had a blue mind,
light as Easter's sky,
cool air opening lungs.
History stamped his integrity,
alive, not a fossil.

When they deported him,
he spared his verb.
Till he died he found words,
words, new words,
tendrils curling
the corner of his mouth.
His cheeks sagged a bit,
hunger had carved his smile deeper.
Immobile face of a man
who bearing his untrespassing tragedy
has returned from a place
where night grinds death
in daily installments.

Precariousness had long companioned his days.
Injustice came without surprise;
the ink on the page
still pushing the mind,
a laugh curving his neat handwriting
gave angel's wings to each opening line.

His last dwelling,
the concentration camp of Drancy,
was a dark city in a city,
a mere Parisian suburb,
curfewed with a single light
pacing the corridors.
A large dormitory with beds,
and families waiting,
like a departure to summer camp.
Some held their suitcases ready,
in the nearby station
trains dispatched to blind destinations, and him insisting
they could keep their money.
The journey would be free
for lack of happy memories.


Nothing Beyond, Nothing Below

After Paul Klee

Winter impresses blue
on entablatures and façades,
low sky's wimples that let down snow.

That morning
on the way to school
among the shouts and pushes,
I lagged behind to cup snow in my hand—
crisp and blue, to feel it singe
deeper lines of love and life
fate would never melt,

its glare a gaze
more blinding than the plain
pages of my notebooks,
more than vision could resist:
my numb hand pressing eyes tight,
nothing in or out.

This same snow other kids would eat
cupping it to their mouths
to feel the clamp of its kiss.


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