“Portrait of Antonin Artaud. 1947.” by Jeremy Valentine


Photograph by Denise Colomb, 1947.



Portrait of Antonin Artaud. 1947.


Dear Antonin,

I have come searching for you, brother & savior,
To this old city, this mausoleum, this carnal & mellifluous father of merde
Searching for you I hear the clatter & scarled wings of the mob,
The wet red flowers eating at the teeth of the poor. I encounter
Fascist monuments & revolutions of bread;

“Let them eat cake!” your theaters of torture proclaim.

The dead streets speak your
Name & mounting the long steps to the milky breast
Of Sacré Coeur your ghosts double me,
Unholy doppelgangers! & in the dying city’s wet red
Machinery, in God’s orgiastic womb,
I witness your portrait being destroyed
By flaming cherubim of an
Unknown & trivial pantheon.

On the streets of Paris, in it’s wretched, putrescent
Cemeteries, the dead nobility of a thousand spawning
Take the shape of birds & trash.
Your works insinuate themselves into everything:
Graffiti on the Metro’s stained
Quicksilver torso, the scars of demons &
Tourists decorating the
Louvre with your blood & piss—
Your eyes in the eyes of small children
Carried so decorously in their pink prams along the Seine.

I want you in me,
The skies herald in the screeching of white-noise
Concerts that only I & the fetal children of uncertain parentage
Can hear. You know that I will never
Find you. That the plane will
Steal me away, lock me back within the prisons of
North America & the cages of English
Will hold my intestines as a loom that only you,
You my lover, can possibly play.
Je t’adore, mon amant,
Mon traître!

Jeremy Valentine Freeman Ganem hails originally from Kansas and is presently completing his doctorate in fin-de-siècle poetics and aesthetics at Concordia University in Montreal, where he resides.  He is assistant editor of RaVoN  (Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net), his poetry has appeared in Boston Review, and his critical work has appeared in a variety of academic journals. In addition to a series of lyric works based on the interaction between aesthetics and ideology he is working on a long poem that re-works and deconstructs the Orpheus myth and an experimental post-pop novel centered in Kansas City at the millennium entitled The Golden Apocalypse of Yves Antichrist. He devotes his days to reading ornate books, living in dead centuries, looking at obscure art and walking in Montreal.



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