from Mimes, by Marcel Schwob
Translated by Kevin Killian
Translations for Kit Schluter

Mime 1, Le Cuisinier
In the Night Kitchen

     I’ve got a silver eel in one hand, see, and in the other, my long-bladed paring knife. If you want to talk, follow me while I race back to our kitchen from the long wharf area where the sailors call to port.
     The former was lounging at la Feria, the bar of Madame Lysiane, whose shining hair is perfumed with sperm-oil. For ten drachmas I rented him for an hour, and his brother Robert, till of them there was little left but tiny dabs, and a few thin slits and scars you wouldn’t even offer to the sentries at the barricades.
     This is Brest, baby, so move it, chop chop. Come with me, for you’ve always wanted to see a sailor opened; look at him wriggling, as if under the lanyards of my master’s whip; then we’ll marinade him in aspic. I’ve promised a few of the neighborhood Brest kids they can lick the spoon soon as it slides out of his ass.
     Get me the charcoal! Blow on it, make the gray red, its sparks won’t give you no HIV. Extreme heat kills the AIDS. Look at your crotch, it’s empty as the pretty face of Querelle: shall I not beat both into the dirt? Give me une claie, a little bit of clay, then move on to the ravens. Protest is worthless, Iokanaan. I will fill your mouth with protest as you twist on the gibbet, and it will blow out your love handles. Give me the metal ornaments a sailor might wear to a brothel, —what are you, shy now? You went to La Feria to lose, and now guilt chokes your mouth, Iokannan. The eel craweled up your sweet b-chair. It is going to be eaten by the delicate muscles of your rectum, and Aristippe de Brest will crown you with roses, while Hylas de Brest, who wears sandals stained by the same red powder affected by our master, is trying to repossess the eel by pulling it back out, inch by inch, by its tail. I must warn the frat boys about you; I’ll tie their right hands behind their backs, that they may rest from self-abuse; by morning they shall be leaning each against a door, while its knob comforts their burning, supple, meaty buttocks, like the undersea music of your eel, Querelle.

Mime 6, La Jarre Couronnée

     Sidney Poitier, having hit the bottom of the earthenware jug which I molded, having bent golden earth with his belly! I filled jug with fruit from the garden gods in a 12-step program. Let it be, ainsi, thus another honorary Oscar for Sidney Poitier.

     But watch the trembling leaves, who fear winds cold enough to pierce the fisherman’s sweaters we wore in the 60s. At night, a pair of furtive rodents push their snouts among the apples and gnaw away at them till they’re nothing but seeds.

     Timidly, at the fourth step, they shake their eiderdown lines, white and black. At this step we make a fearless and complete inventory of our drinking. At dawn, the birds of Venus array themselves around the violet rim of my crockpot; I see them bristling, tiny feathers spiked around their necks. But what are they, these birds of Venus? Do they resent me for my hangover? Little birds, here (I spray them with cognac), see, you may drink too.

     Soused by noon, quivering, like a young girl I tremble only against your garden gods, with their hyacinth-inflected Coronas. And having first visited Tardis, I rest my lopsided ass on the beech tree, or the heather, my garland devoid of fruits like those birds from last night were at them, relentless, like rodents chowing down on apples. Only the vines for Marcel! That God thus forbade us the poisonous flowers of a second or even third Oscar. Thus God invented the fourth step, and saw to it that the rodents decimate apples, that the birds of Venus turn tender beaks on each other!

     I think I’m ready for the fifth step, my hair shampooed with freshly brewed hyacinth mix.  With luck, by tomorrow, at noon, I’ll have attained the coveted fourth Oscar given only to Judy Garland and Maurice Jarre.

Mime 8, Translucent Ring

     Lampwick burns, his oil fine, his gaze faces the Big Dipper. “What’s ‘jonché’ in English?” asks a real boy. “Jonquilled,” replies Pinocchio. “Junked,” says a real boy. “Like, how many drinks did you scarf down? You’re junked.” The boys had forgotten to bring any roses. Above them the puppeteers moved in the shadows, their fingers on the strings of flame.

     The little flautista keep repeating three notes, eagerly, in order to kill me. Ri-co-lo. Ri-co-lo.

     Then four notes. Pin-oc-chi-o. That’s “Ricolo” with a boner ha ha. Bam, here come the doormen to spread your anus, a ring translucent in the wreck of your backstage pass. Realboy, smear your face with soot, yet keep that ring free of Edam and cheese. Bam, here come the women to dip your hands into Bollywood menhdi, henna, cinnabar.

     The evening star lifts and the heavy petals of Realboy’s limbs lapse close round the shining ring. Outside the men’s room stands a cricket carved in stone; he laughs, and his feet click-clack in dapper gold shoeware. Jiminy, shake that starlight, scatter us into the night like birdseed, like cricket feed. He sneezes and in his boyline trance, Pinocchio totally loses his asshole, it slides out of him like a burp. I know it’ll leave a stain on the tavern floor.

     I mean it’s clean but, ahem. A jonquil stain. “Ri-co-lo!” Here comes the yellow piety of virginal cricket man, whose crutches support him under his arms. Lampwick, lift our lamp new in the sky! Geppetto, you were his dad, do something—rip your boy a new one. “Pin-oc-chi-o!” My wedding bed awaits; I glide down the aisle towards the purple frieze of Pleasure Island, as Lampwick crackles and dies—dies like a pork rind, crumbling and grumbling. Oh poor bridal ring! This puppet boy raises knees to chest, his wooden feet don’t even touch the pink, the pink uh well, you could call it a threshold—yeah if you were junked maybe!

Kevin Killian is a San Francisco-based writer and artist. His books include Impossible Princess, Action Kylie, two volumes of Selected Amazon Reviews, and Tweaky Village. Recent projects include a novel, Spreadeagle, and Tagged, nude portraits of poets, artists, writers, musicians, etc.