Developed in Darkness (Like a Photograph)

Je l’écoute faisant de l’infamie une gloire, de la cruauté un charme.


I listen to him glorifying infamy, clothing cruelty with charm.

                    Eyes that invented the colours of jewels writing silences

with the ink of night, on a sea of
whispers amethysted lips mouth the opening of odours to
sins of the world, crippling pedestrian senses with another

martyr’s fetid confessions, dark-humoured prayers coughing choleric wrinkled pages
of stinking flesh flaking to the marrow, morals of
stories showing through their thrown veils truth’s mysterious heir

decaying, his rot saying stay now, sorrow, so that
you might know all my own soarings and descents,
Rimbaud spoke of those three magi who are one’s

mind, heart, and soul, none of whom I encountered
among the filth littering literature’s underworld, having, in my
toil among those sinners there, to carry within a

memory, only, of those three kings, whose secrets I
treasured then, and treasure, still, no matter how lonely,
returning to them whenever I encountered scum, learning to

become prodigious and prolific as a poisonous flower which
cannot be killed, impure, evil, regenerative as the hydra
never losing my head or giving in to giving

it to those who will never get it, that
I developed in darkness like a photograph, uncovered from
its grandiosity’s canopy, hiding behind this name beneath every

marquee it decorates in the boldest typeface of immortality,
and accompanied my Self following the path of the
sun’s journey by night, coursing through mire to arrive

at tomorrow with my weapon fully loaded, wholly sober,
two travelers in one shroud, my spirit wearing this
flesh well, surviving like a conqueror living two sides

of one coin, loud in my art and quiet
in my life, capturing glances of strangers, raising brows,
toes greeting furrowed soil in solitude’s trodden labyrinths their

cold feet ignored until I unraveled for its hounds
the heat of hell’s howl, revealed for all, as
I do now, that it is only a sound

which cannot sustain itself or anyone else whom, with
its ravenous fear, its illusion assaults, this I knew
when, through the subway tunnel’s tube into the tower

of Corporate America’s castle, I chewed like a wingèd rat,
eating through wireless cables, transatlantic and transcendental condolences of
æther telegraphing panic through the polluted air, traffic-jammed with

a mixture of convoluted, conflicting messages, into the heads
of unsuspecting people, above this highest watermark of diluted
hokum into the penthouse steeple of deception’s most sacrosanct

temple, where, in his office where sacrilege is just
another tenet of the dogma of business, quoting from
its gospel, having written, “lit’rally!”, its bible, the publisher

offered me a sexual advance, fingering to his mouth
a very Freudian cigar, said if I did not
tell anyone else, if we met in silence when

his secretary was at lunch, he would have his
office send a fax to the art department, if
not a personal email, that if I did him

as well as my pen depicted in my novels’
and poetry’s steamy tell-alls, if I lived up to
my legend as the libertine he looked up to

and down upon, having foregone any semblance of a
remotely respectable reputation so long ago, which he and
everyone already knew, that I was easy, apparently, publicly,

even though every editor has told me my work
needs footnotes to even be understood generally, he would
let me design the cover of my next book

myself, calling me ‘a true artist in every respect,’
that, in the press in which his conglomerate had
a controlling interest, it would top all of the

lists, “sell” best regardless of actual figures, so long
as I did whatever he wished, thus was proved
to me the power of language, what makes a

writer more destructive than descriptive, a warning for all
who aspire to this: as Bukowski put it, ‘Don’t
try,’ do at your own peril, kids, what society

                    tells you not to: be your Self without apology.

1Arthur Rimbaud, «Delires: I: Vierge folle, l’époux infernal» (“Delirium: I: The Foolish Virgin, The Infernal Bridegroom”), in «Une saison en enfer» (“A Season in Hell”) of A Season in Hell: Une saison en enfer & The Drunken Boat: Le bateau ivre: Translated from the French by Louise Varèse: Preface by Patti Smith, published at New York by New Directions in 2011; pages 38 and 39 (parallel text in French and English).