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Abdellatif Laâbi

from 'Little Things'


When objects speak
we don't believe them
Then the ashtray rebels
the pen whines
the scissors are menacing
the glass closes over
the paper-knife hides a smirk
only the spectacles
maintain an air of detachment

The shelf said:
I feel
like a diverted aircraft


The circumcision chair said:
sadness keeps me company

The TV said:
I am the opium of the people
And I can't do anything about it.

The calendar said:
I bear not one cross
but many


The pebble said:
I was weaned
too young from sea

The portrait of the father said:
In a hundred years
I will still be here

The amber necklace said:
When will I wrap myself
around the neck
of the princess of my dreams?


The Linguaphone English course said:
I know my imperfections well

The manuscript said:
I must take out life insurance

The cigarette butt said:
I have already
settled my account with death


The cushion said:
I'm fed up with lazing around
I need the embrace of lovers

The cigarette lighter said:
Don't throw me away
I'm not biodegradable

The lamp said:
I don't like this unfair competition
from the day


The rain said:
Call the poet-friend
Surprise him with your tenderness

The Zemmour carpet said:
Be on your way
The country is eternal

Objects speak
the cup too
The scribe nods his head
and complies



These poems are part of a sequence which was originally published as 'Les petites choses', in the collection 'Le Soleil se Meurt' pub. Éditions de la Différence, Paris, 1992.


Copyright © Abdellatif Laâbi, 1992 and 2013

Translation copyright © Alan Baker, 2013