Rufo Quintavalle (France): Three Poems


I. Earthquake

Peace, the sun, a whimbrel on the grass
and under this the thing that nags
and shakes the house, and makes you write:
Peace, the sun, a whimbrel.

II. Hot tub

I’m sitting in the hot tub in the rain and the rain
is coming down sideways
so my chest and face are getting cold
while my fundament heats from underneath
that mine a difference in heat for life;
it seems that that there is and not that there is not
is down, in no small part, to them
so I open a beer and sit in the hot tub in the rain.

III. Keldur

I don’t understand anything: why I came into
this body, this life;
my wife says I think too much,
that I have too much free time,
but I wouldn’t want less, and besides,
I’d hardly call it free.
Up the road there is what was a house
and now is a building on a farm;
before the house there was nothing,
and around the farm there is nothing still.

IV. The monks

Like sperm come too late to an egg the monks
arrived in their coracles, wriggled, prayed
on the coast a while, then passed; they left no trace.

V. Sanctity

You put out to sea and nine times in ten
it’s suicide; otherwise sanctity.


The days are staying hot into the night
and the drag queens are fighting in the corner bar;
some flagrantly so or choose flagrantly
to work their way out of it
but hasn't everyone on this street been born
into a life not their own?
It's nothing to be ashamed of, Jesus
was and took thirty years to wriggle out of his;
what is is if you never do
or never make peace with the lie.
At five o'clock the rubbish truck comes,
on Thursdays the dustman sweeps the street.
The city, which endlessly starts again,
belongs to the drag queens in the corner bar.


Walking back with a loping gait
from the prize-winning head-cheese shop
the afternoon spoke to me
like God in the bush did to Moses;
thing was whereas Moses understood
so well he couldn’t explain what he heard
I was garrulous, kind of morning
after chirpy but hadn’t a clue
what the day was saying.
Or rather the clues were everywhere:
the houses said build but the clouds
festinalenting across the sun melt,
and while a woman’s calves, that thickened
like fish do then disappeared whispered follow,
the gravid pellets forming in my gut
since lunch said home, James, fuck the horses.
The afternoon, a Wednesday, was colder
than it should have been; what’s a man to do?

You talk and talk
but there is so much
in the way
of words
these days
it might make
more sense
to say

© Rufo Quintavalle 2009