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Now available in print ~

Henri Michaux / Louise Landes Levi. Toward Totality I (Vers La Completude) & Toward Totality II (Vers La Completude) . Longhouse, 2006. First edition. Fold out accordion booklets. New. Limited editions. $10 per booklet plus $2 s/h.Now online -

Now online -

Henri Michaux / Louise Landes Levi. Toward Totality II (Vers La Completude)



   In six months, at the latest, perhaps tomorrow I will be blind. It
is my sad, sad life that continues.
  Those who brought me into the world, I told myself at one time,
would pay for it. Up to now, they haven’t paid. I, however, I must
now take leave of my own two eyes. Their definitive loss will free me
from atrocious sufferings, that’s all I can say. One morning my eyelids
will be full of puss. Time to try, uselessly, the dreadful silver nitrate
and that will be the end of them. Nine years ago mother told me: “I
would have preferred that you had not been born.”


  And circulating in my cursed body, I came upon a region where
parts of myself were truly rare and where in order to live it was
necessary to be a saint. But I, who formerly had aspired to saintliness
now that the sickness had backed me into it, I resisted and I still resist
and it is evident that, like this, I will not live.
  I would have had the possibility, yes! But to be backed into it,
that is unbearable to me.

  Occasionally, when I feel quite low and I am also alone and
in bed, I pay homage to myself with my left hand. It stands erect
on my forearm, turns itself to me and salutes. My left hand has
little force and is rather distant from me. Lazy as well. In order
for it to move, I must strain it a bit. But as soon as it has begun,
it goes on with a natural desire to please me. Genuflections and
acknowledgments are directed to me and even a third person would
be very moved by them.


Don’t weigh more than a flame and all will be well,
A flame of zephyr, a flame from a warm and blood-stained lung,
In a word, a flame.
Ruin in a friendly and rested face,
Ruin, to say everything, ruin.

Don’t weigh more than the top of a mast and all will be well.
A mast in the sky, a mast like a bodice.
One and no more.
One and feminine,

When you see me,
Come on,
It’s not me.

In grains of sand,
In grains of grains,
In the invisible flour of air,
In a great emptiness that nourishes itself like blood,
Is is there that I live.

O! I have nothing to brag about: Small! Small!
And if one were to hold me,
One would make of me what one wished.


  While leaving I lost my way. It was suddenly too late to turn
back. I found myself in the middle of a plain. And large wheels
circulated everywhere. Certainly their size was one hundred
times that of mine. And others were still larger. As for me, at their
approach, I whispered softly, as if to myself, almost without seeing
them, “Wheel, don’t crush me...Wheel, I beg of you don’t crush
me...Wheel, do me a favor, don’t crush me.” They arrived, stirring
up a strong wind and went away. I staggered. Now, since months:
“Wheel, don’t crush me...Wheel, again this time, don’t crush me.”
And no one intervenes! And nothing can stop it. I will remain
like this until my death.

In the song of my anger there is an egg,
And in this egg there is my mother, my father and my children,
And in all this there is mixed joy and sadness, and life.
Great storms that saved me,
Beautiful sun that betrayed me,
There is hatred in me, strong and of an ancient date,
And as for beauty one will see later.
I have not, in fact, become hard but striped;
If one knew how soft I have remained deep inside.
I am gong and cotton and snow-like song,
I say it and I am sure of it.

On the street of Death,
My mother met a great ice field;
She wanted to speak,
It was already late,
A great cotton ice field.

She looked at us my brother and I,
And then she cried,

We told her — a truly absurd lie —
  that we understood.
And then she smiled the very gracious smile,
  of a young girl,
That was truly herself,
Such a lovely smile, almost coy;
And was taken into the Opaque.

Peace in the nerves of a sick heart.
Steady peace ripens its law,
sucked into life,
into a nebulous life, into life...
but heavy the chariot, heavy, heavy.

Calm then,
Send wind to them,
the warm wind of delicate mouths,
the warm wind of sovereign deserts.

“And, now...CLOSE
  your corollas of anguish!”

...it is the gestation of essential night, the night that lights the
day, the night of those for whom the day gives nothing.

      (preface for Un Certain Plume, 1930)


A mad being,
a beacon being,
a being erased a thousand times,
a being exiled from the far end of the horizon
a being sulking at the far end of the horizon
a being crying from the far end of the horizon
a thin being
an honest being
a proud being
a being who wanted to be
a being in the churning of two epochs which collide
a being in the deleterious gas of consciousness which succumbs,
a being like the first day
a being...

Translations by Louise Landes Levi

Most of these poems were translated in Bombay
& Udaipur, India, 1970-1971. They & other works
were revised with the author in Paris, France, 1976-1977.

When asked in an interview, what poets he read —
“I read, above all, those archaic texts of
foreign peoples for whom poetry is not
something isolated, it comes spontaneously,
one doesn’t know how.”
~ Henri Michaux.

Toward Totality II, Henri Michaux translated by Louise Landes Levi


Now available ~

Henri Michaux / Louise Landes Levi. Toward Totality I (Vers La Completude) & Toward Totality II (Vers La Completude) . Longhouse, 2006. First edition. Fold out accordion booklets. New. Limited editions. The set $15.95 (+ $2 s/h) / Individually, booklets are $10 each.

As an act of goodwill and for poetry - Longhouse is sending out each month complete publications - online - of one poet (or more) we have published in booklet, broadside or postcard form for everyone to share. It's a way of giving back to many of you who have sent to us poems, letters, purchases and the same goodwill over the years. The series will fly in under the banner of our Woodburners We Recommend. It should also be felt as a certain warmth in memory to all our close and dear poetry comrades passed along - each one becoming more of a loss. Each monthly booklet will also be available for purchase from Longhouse. Issued in a very limited keepsake edition of 50 copies. Starting in 2006 we will begin to reissue and present past issues from Longhouse of select poets. For those readers that travel back as far as 1972 when Longhouse began, you know poetry was released like bandits by the day, by the week, by the month, and always free. We have never taken on grants and meant poetry to be seen & heard & on poetry terms. From 2006, into the Infinite, and within the universal cyber cosmos, we would like to share multiple poets with you....and only ask that you share them further.


© January 2006 by Louise Landes Levi

updated January 29, 2006


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