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This poem is taken from PN Review 236, Volume 43 Number 6, July - August 2017.

Five Poems (trans. Jane Draycott) Henri Michaux
Haunted by the Burning Beacon of Fear

As yet it’s only a small glow, a halo
that no one else sees. But he knows
that what follows is fire, flame, the approach
of a great conflagration to swallow him whole
from whose midst he must stoically
carry on just as before (‘Hi how’s it going?’
‘Not bad thanks. And you?’) while he’s roasted
alive by a fire consuming and total.

     It stands before him like a tiger on the road
     biding its moment. It has all the time in the world.
     In its eye lies one single focus,
     one single, immoveable purpose.

Fear makes exceptions for no one:
the little fish going crazy deep in the ocean
at six hundred fathoms swims anxiously close
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