Marilyn Kallet







In Translation


So they weren’t naked butts, they were street soldiers,

the ones that Rimbaud skipped to Paris for, thugs

who tore him up.

So much depends upon translation. They were ruffians,

home-grown militia, the people’s army,

not the mayor’s high-hatted well-cushioned



And since it’s all a metaphor for love, for you and me,

can we translate war, the so-called  good guys,

their back-room barracks?

Metaphor pales beside

bullets. Torn boys.

Where can we go from here?


Back into the streets with the ghosts of poets

who wanted to liberate something—Paris, mind,


Ah! There’s something Madame can work with.

Rip the doors off their jambs!


Let’s at least have the courage

to love with our claws.

Free each other from your church,

my vows. I is someone else––or could be.

The revolution begins here, dear

great soul.

We won’t speak

of collateral damage.




Falling Out


According to Le Monde, désamour reigns

between nations, which means

falling out of love,



to forget it.

Dice your love


and make

a tapenade.

Serve on hard toast.


I have tried falling out,

my yearning

more rock wall


than slide.

Let’s scale




to mere




Désamour mucho.

Can’t come back


to never.

What does wind

know, stripping limbs?


According to Le Monde,

there has been a



but in my dreams

your face is sharp,

foreground to infinity.


You are


waving yoo-hoo


to molehills,

nothing gained or lost.

In this country of mistrals


you are no less


at home in fierce wind.


I translate your flesh

into words,

your beauty


a touch

less ravaging

in song.



First published in War, Literature & The Arts: Peace Folio, 2017.




Not Found


“The word you searched for

Was not found.”


Where did language lose it?

Léon-Paul Fargue,


You dirty word-dancer,

Why use caracams


If no one can retrieve?

Was it a Bolivian mosquito


Or a lynx from down Loreto?

Something worn by Brazilian women


Lap-dancing for aging

Tourist men?


You bastard!

The love I searched for was not


Found either.

But you knew that.


Last night, before I fell asleep,

You leaned on my shoulder.


That was either you or an aging caracam,

Searching for her definition,


And not finding it, latched on

To something human.



First published in Plume Anthology of Poetry, 7, 2018.












Marilyn Kallet is the author of 18 books, including How Our Bodies Learned, The Love That Moves Me and Packing Light: New and Selected Poems, poetry from Black Widow Press. She has translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems, Péret’s The Big Game, and co-translated Chantal Bizzini’s Disenchanted City. Dr. Kallet is Nancy Moore Goslee Professor of English at the University of Tennessee. For a decade, she has also lead poetry workshops for VCCA-France, in Auvillar. She has performed her poems on campuses and in theaters across the United States as well as in France and Poland, as a guest of the U.S. Embassy’s “America Presents” program.



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