Driving along the Braek sea-wall
a tarmac thread
the sea to the right
to the left, the bay where the cargo ships open their bellies
Dunkirk, as far as your eyes can tire themselves:
flares, smokestacks, reactors...
SEVESO, great name of the great tarantula
SEVESO with sky all around, and the suffocating smell
Your eyes scan, but men remain invisible there
away behind the sulphur and barbed wire
workers saying “thank you, thank you”
since others are uselessly waiting, “thank you”
balls of bitterness in the cracked glass, “thank you”
asbestos curtain drawn down on the lungs
Old Messieurs vote in the Senate
– red velvet – black slap of smoke!
Molten metal! Kchchch kchch
Thoughts spinning in your head
Tak tak tak Phhh Tak tak boom. Tak tak boom
– gestures over and over again...
Lift! Screeech! Push! Pouuuuh! Swing! Schlack!
Schlam Pouh kiiii Schlam Pouh kiiii Lift Push Swing
levers overheating! Pschhhhh...!
Pistons of pandemonium! Ptchi! Ptchi shtook...
Schlam Pouh ki P-tchi! Ptchi shtook Slam Pouh ki
this anger unused
And everywhere the threat, enlarged by our screens:
the unemployed lying in wait, teeming spiders
ready to pounce, to transform into rotting overalls
lost friends, collapsing allowances, baliffs
booze, pavement, the gas turned on. Pshhhhh....
You stand dreaming on the Braek sea-wall, arms by your sides,
staring at the black water with its touch of pink foam
Dream of being up in the crane, operating the metal arm
with its beak plunging down – Groo – relentlessly
into the enormous cargo of Australian coal
It must be beautiful up there – floating – alone –
under that glass shell (ou: strait-jacket = camisole de force?) that dances in the wind
with the white-winged hee-hee of the seagulls
and the far-off sea shuddering, dilated by light
*SEVESO indicates dangerous industrial installations
Translation of Luke Askance