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from Bogolan

de Bogolan
by Julien Delmaire
Translated from French by
Hodna Nuernberg & Patricia Hartland
Issue 28 Online Exclusive

I separate silence into parallel limbs. The dead are entangled in a nightmare awash in crackled signs. To understand this neighborhood, beyond the flash of sheet metal and tires, is to parse the pubescent star from among the detritus. My neighborhood is written in streaks of tar, like a foal shakes off its harness, unfurls its mane. I am naked on the precipice, bold as stable hands, I rival the moon in mystery, I adopt the water lily’s violent stance, I concede my breath to the drums. Thrashing foliage, grease pit tenderness seeps from the horse’s flanks. Souls are sweet. Sugar hypnotizes sorcerers. They still serve coffee to those who have collapsed









I fasted a thousand clouds, the plague of seasons lashed my back. A section of city couples with common stars. I perceive the sorrel pulverized along the refuges, the restraint of waters and the rum bar taken in tenure by the devil. Rattles and tambourines to clear the way. In green savannah, my cigarette was burned down, a man devoured his progeny, fanning a blaze of fabric among the bones. In green savannah, a lion fell in love with a thousand-year-old tibia, termites crowned the days of sowing: arduous hatching! My Ramadan jewels, golden torrents of my lunacy, were justified by the equinox of a continent burned alive









Saliva pronounces its sentence. A butcher hides under the wrinkles of a feather seller. Children with neither father nor mother warm their bellies with promises. A shroud engulfs the road. The hadiths are a firebrand for the heart. The ardent stanzas of my dolls’ black songs come back to me. I won’t save the world. Volcanos nor torrential rains will return me to memory. Skins inhabited by desire without shame; the sheep plunges its raw wool fleece into the fire. Rounds of breath resonate wearily. The monkey bread weighs heavily on the tree. And I’m stricken with blood, riddled with dates. The flowers have devoured my life for too long




Original text: Julien Delmaire, [“I” “III” “IV”] from Bogolan. Montreuil: Le Temps des Cerises, 2015.

Composed of forty poems, Bogolan tells the story of a return to Thiaroye, the working-class suburb of Dakar (Senegal) that was the site of the 1944 Thiaroye Massacre, a watershed moment in African nationalism.  Julien Delmaire is a poet, novelist, and playwright. He has performed spoken word and poetry across the world, in addition to organizing writing workshops in schools, psychiatric hospitals, prisons, and libraries. Georgia, Delmaire’s first novel won the Prix Littéraire de la Porte Dorée in 2013. He is also the author of the novels Frère des astres (2016), Minuit, Montmartre (2017), and two collections of poetry, Bogolan and Rose Pirogue, published in 2015 and 2016 respectively.  
Hodna Bentali Gharsallah Nuernberg holds both a Master’s in Francophone Studies and an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Iowa. She is currently serving as a Fulbright scholar in Morocco. Nuernberg translates from French, Spanish, and Arabic; her work has appeared with QLRS, Two Lines, Asymptote, Poet Lore and elsewhere.
Patricia Hartland is a candidate for the MFA in Poetry at the University of Notre Dame, and a recent graduate of the Iowa Translation Workshop. She translates from French, Martinican Creole, and Hindi, with a special interest in Caribbean literature. Her translations of prose, poetry, and theater have appeared in Asymptote, Circumference, Drunken Boat, and elsewhere.