The Inexpressible


I want what’s inexpressible!
Impudent, I play with fire without a queen

My queen-reason is under the knight’s hooves
What joy to lose to the fire!

What flaming in the uncombed night
From slender you, as from a candle!

How you’ve fired-up
The idea of sin!

I writhe but the cry of my flesh is bliss
The heretic is already freed by the fire

New York Paris Madrid in flames
And someone dear to me burns in them

But if from the heretic’s fire
The flame leaps to some poor bastard’s roof

All the heretic burns for
Shall be forever damned to hell

For truth, when you burn down the scene
of someone nearby,
Is no longer truth but a lie.

Translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti with Anthony Kahn

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