Litany for a Prolonged Dream

Joyce Mansour
translated by
C. Francis Fisher

The streets of El Kantara are unrecognizable at dusk

The people of death have thirty-nine filthy fingers

Braided on their foreheads

Crowns of fathers

Over there a tomb looks like a moving walkway

In reverse

The dead travel sitting

To the east

The desert

The dust soft like an open stomach

The clarity of a golden voice on edge

The toothless night the savanna

The obsession of

The North Star

The gusty laughter of the child rattle

The ornamental explosion of the eye which bursts

Under the boot

The thick juice of corruption in colonial vermeil

The church

Death’s fingerprints are pale and lack rays

The midday wind rises in the cafés

My mother’s eyes count a rosary of testicles

Somewhere in the forest

Priapic hanged men sneeze

The scarab buries his ball beneath the livid earth

Winter is prince of olive

Joyce Mansour (1928–1986) was born in England to Jewish-Egyptian parents, grew up in Cairo, and settled in Paris in the 1950s. She published sixteen books of poetry in her lifetime and is considered one of the most important female Surrealist writers.
C. Francis Fisher is a writer and translator. Her first book of translations, In the Glittering Maw: Selected Poems of Joyce Mansour, is forthcoming in May 2024.
Originally published:
March 4, 2024


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