From Picasso: The Burial of the Count of Orgaz,
& Other Poems

by Pablo Picasso / translated by Pierre Joris, Jerome Rothenberg,
Diane Rothenberg

From Boisgeloup  18 april XXXV

if I should go outside the wolves would come to eat out of my hand just as my room would seem to be outside of me my other earnings would go off around the world smashed into smithereens but what is there to do today it’s thursday everything is closed it’s cold the sun is whipping anybody I could be and there’s no helping it so many things come up so that they throw the roots down by their hairs out in the bull ring stenciled into portraits not to make a big deal of the day’s allotments but today has been a winner and the hunter back with his accounts askew how great this year has been for putting in preserves like these and thus and so and always things are being left behind some tears are laughing without telling tales again except around the picture frame the news arrived that this time we would only see the spring at night and that a spider crawls across the paper where I’m writing that the gift is here the others putting ties on for the holidays that we’ve already had it for the nonce and that it’s just the start this time around if they don’t want a centipede then it’s the horse and bull that sticks it into him so that the lights will come on afterwards and in the papers everyday misleading pictures of the families who beat their kids so that they can be copied by the likes of me who paint and sing again because the blackbirds at this time of year have always been like that they straighten themselves out if they can manage one more time and so the world goes on and if it wasn’t for their own self interest none of them would leave his house without first taking it apart as well they can and this time it’s my turn that makes it worthwhile clobbering this worthwhile man who doesn’t strut his stuff day after day and if he hits the jackpot this time it’s not his to win but goes to those dumb boobs ahead of him and one more time he’ll end up in the small boat like you know and see ya later cuz today’s a holiday and they’ve cut out like they were looking one more time to yank the stick back from the man who made it so the chestnuts would be roasted and if not for that to pull them out again the partridges would all return on their own steam because it’s all a mess already and if not just have them say how many times what’s true has been a lie and if it’s still not they should count from one to two and three to seven the result would always come out wrong albeit of pure gold and if it doesn’t pass this time around he simply swallows which is good stuff for the navel as it always has been in his house and in his neighbor’s who is there inside and afterwards they’re fried up and we have to take the plunge so that we may be always friends like always and that once for always not just for today to make your mind up just a little if they ask and let them pick the thread up seeing afterwards the fans they’re holding fade away

and it’s raining all the green is wet but feels like it was made of fire and on their hands turned over tiles are jumping for pure joy and wringing hands with pinky missing on the one who made me—sorceress—and after let them come to me to say they have no time that we can save it for another day and it’s now late and that again and then already well the soup is nearly ready and the spoonful that I have to take an hour before is loving me because it’s certain also that they’ll tell me then that I forgot it but this glassy air the raindrops on the window have their shadows upside down so that you have to paint

them from the bottom up and if it wasn’t so nobody would have made a single thing forever

Translation from Spanish by Jerome Rothenberg


26 april 43

TO THE SALMON-PINK CARESSES OF THE LEAF a thousand times half-opened and fixed detached offered as music to the fires and long trains of spangles
waved and crazy so said and splashed in glory and rockets screamed and
painted to the pearly distinct braids to the solitudes seen all mixed up
with the caressing burned distillations to the branches and to the raised
hangings to the sordid little secrets and to the unfortunate discoveries in
digestions and prayers vomited from a point into far enamored sumptuous
arabesques and ritornellos of the decompositions and tears to the spattered
and festooned arcs labors torn in perfumes and in crowns and diabolic sated
processions  to the tendernesses prepared disappeared and undone so late of
each long trajectory revolted enveloped stretched in the woods to hooked and
shredded trances in meat and bone unfolded into veils and vellums oars smack
raised in flames and good-byes rigorously projected as bait to the crowd of
mirrors aping the drained apparition at the bottom of the raised lakes of
the sun with large brush strokes painting three quarters of the sideboard
buried in the mess of hairs of the fur caulking with cotton waste the belly
open to the light with large strokes of the icy roof of the stretched sheet
of the water armor screamed at the window with all the strength of the gay
bouquet in plucked apparel to all chance and risk imagined.

Translation from French by Pierre Joris


[16-30 may 1943]

the flute the grapes the umbrella the armor the tree and the accordion the
butterfly wings of the sugar of the blue fan of the lake and the azure waves
of the silks of the strings hanging from the bouquets of roses of the
ladders one and incalculable outsized flood of doves released drunk on the
cutting festoons of prisms fixed to the bells decomposing with its thousand
lit candles the green flocks of wool illuminated by the gentle acrobatics of
the lanterns hanging from each arc string and the definitive dawn

30 may 1943
intervention at each blood drop spattered in iridescent sheaves and in
silent mirrors on fire and festivities put off developed in music and songs
rolled up as fields and silks parsimoniously distilled detailed descriptions
on each page on each line on each crushed sun …

Translation from French by Pierre Joris


4-9 february 1944

from between the fingers of the gentle caravans of oriflammes of steeled
sheaves in dead leaf shedding petals gropingly immense stoppered vessels the
dances and screams imposed horizontally in good order and details at the
lively pink of the oh so laughing points of the stars of the fan of the
honey jar tolling the bells varied in numbers and musics at 5 o’clock hooked
to the table of white wood toughly painted with whip lashes in celestial
blue with the tender colors of the fringes splattered in torrents of panes
in sweet and large lemons wild plighting of troths and vine leaves as well
suspended in the middle of soups of acids as dead with fright and full of

Translation from French by Pierre Joris


8-9 november 1944

on the shrubs of ink fresh butter lace fans open in sated scattered
divinities the incandescent crystal that sings on the wing on the bee’s wax
of the rose-bush gathers with delicate and supple spoonfuls the airy houses
of cards of the perfumed male voices of feathers oiling the road
the miraculous rainbow festoons of the jars full of milk drinking with loud
yells the azureal blue jumping with both feet on the tropics of the mirror
hanging with all hands at the window

Translation from French by Pierre Joris


25.12.39 [1] [11]

the coal folds the sheets embroidered with the wax of eagles
falling in a shower of laughs the icy tangle of
the flames from the empty sky on the ripped skin of the house
in a corner at the bottom of the drawer of the wardrobe vomits its wings

clacking at the window forgotten on the emptiness
the ripped black sheet of  icy honey
of the flames of the sky
on the torn skin at the house
in a corner at the bottom of the drawer
the eagle vomits its wings

on the torn skin of the house
clacking at the window forgotten at the center of infinite emptiness the black honey of the ripped sheet by the icy flames
of the sky the eagle vomits its wings

at the infinite center of the emptiness on the ripped skin of the house
clacking at the window the naked arms of the honey of the
black sheet ripped by the ice of flames of the
stinking sky by the eagle vomiting its wings

the window forgotten at the center of the night shakes
the black sheet devoured by the ice of the flames
the eagle vomits its wings on the honey of the sky

immobile in the center of space
the ripped skin of the house
shakes the black sheet of its window
the eagle caught in the ice
vomits its wings in the sky

the black sheet of the window clacks on the cheek of the sky
carried away by the eagle vomiting its wings

torn from the teeth of the wall of the house the window shakes its
sheet in the coal of the blue grilled by the lamps
the fingernails of the shutters
give up the fight its wings to chance

good evening monsieur good evening madame and good evening children big and small damasked and striped in sugar and in marshmallow clothed in blue in black and in lilac mechanically malodorous and cold pug nosed one-eyed irascible and filthy on horseback on crutches potbellied and bald made of sententiousness sliced very fine by the machine to make terrified rainbows just good to be thrown in the frying pan tell me my dears my loves my little piggies have you ever counted by holding your nose until 0 and if not repeat with me the list of losing of all the lotteries

Translation from French by Diane Rothenberg

Picasso: The Burial of the Count of Orgaz & Other Poems
is forthcoming from Exact Change in 2004.