Two Poems by Ivan de Monbrison




Prose Poems


A long time ago, before Absence, there was Time, that is the one of  Life lost, as all lives are.

But, in the meantime, this morning the wind has finally died down, and no longer makes the large plane trees that line the main street of the town, called La Canebière, shiver. A little further up, by a large church called Les Réformés, although it is Catholic and not Protestant, some hackberry trees have been planted, with darker foliage and gnarlier trunks. Yesterday morning, like every Saturday, it was flea market day along this street, there were old dusty books, obsolete trinkets, old-fashioned paintings; and me, I wanted to find an old wooden pipe for myself, but those proposed being a little expensive,  I gave up. And yes! There’s no denying that I’m truly a man of our times…I smoke the pipe, I play chess by myself for no clear reason, I badly strum my guitar, and recently, I have started to read “The Tales of the Vampire”, translated from Sanskrit by Louis Renou, more than sixty years ago now. Here, there is no computer, no television, only scores of paintings vainly hanging on the walls, in rows, and outside, through the window, the imperturbable view of the old roofs of Marseille. I live on rue Mazagran, right next to the famous Thiers high school and the Gymnase theater. If ones goes down La Canebière, it’s easy to quickly get to the harbor and the sea. Sometimes, when the weather is bad, it also rains in the old attic where I live, so then I put a plastic bucket on the floor to catch the drops, and when I’m not present, there’s inevitably a puddle that grows there but which, fortunately, dries out quite quickly, due to the arid air of this southern land. The old attic, turned into an apartment, still a little rickety, is inhabited mainly by my past, by passing through women whom I’ve slept with there, or by visitors who might have visited me, from time to time. One day, I can imagine, I too will finally leave this place, having broken my pipe, as we say for passing away in French, in my turn, for good. Then, the old attic will remain vacant, with only canvases as sole guests, those which I have been clumsily painting on relentlesly, while waiting for death for so many years, with but shadows of my poor unconscious usually casted over them. They will stay all alone in here, probably waiting for  a last  late visit, forever postponed.

(April 21, 2024)



Dawn, Marseille, corpses, nothing, we feel nothing. There are pieces of flesh scattered all around, there are pieces of silence scattered everywhere, and, below the sky, the endless roofs of the old city. We will not go further away today. The silence is too low. The silence is too heavy. The church bells have started ringing now, the wind has been slowly dying away, the trees are still, from time to time a bird crosses the sky, the chiming of the bells, and in the background, the loud noise of the traffic. It is quite a cold morning indeed.

You have slept a long time, behind you the bed is still messy, and the painting once finished has been erased, and then painted again,  and so on a thousand times, whether abstract or figurative, it makes no difference in the end. In the next room my best friend is still asleep, she is very ill, my fiancée is ill too. The bells keep on ringing louder and louder. They’re calling the pilgrims to the mass.

We will not go further away today. At sunrise, the sunlight has started creeping over on the roof tiles and is now casting the shadows of the chimneys over them. In the trees, I can guess the shapes of some unrecognizable birds. A dome is standing up, forlorn, once it was the building of a department store, now it stays there, totally useless. The sea must be icy cold now, after all this crazy wind, called “Le Mistral”, which has kept on blowing all night long. The nearest building’s windows are open, but the apartments seem to be still vacant though. The city has changed a lot recently. A pigeon hovering in the sky, then passing swiftly through the deserted courtyard, and much higher against the blueness, one can see the clear spot of just a single white gull. I’ve been staying pensive for a while smoking a big cigar just after waking up, smoking and watching the ocher colored roofs. It’s still so cold. Smoking gives me a little bit of asthma now, but it’s not important anymore. I happily inhale the carbon dioxide, which will slowly kill me one day, I guess.

I can hear the soft chirping of a sparrow, and in the background still the loud noise of the traffic. All this as the world continues its mad race at a hundred thousand kilometers an hour within Space, its course being useless, and always circular, just as the Earth keeps on rotating over itself, as it always has been. And all of us, we keep on rotating too, glued on its surface, and at the same time totally unaware of its rotation, all of us locked up inside an invisible cage, the Earth being locked up inside an invisible cage too. All this, as I stay still listening to all this crushing silence, despite the noise all around, discarded like in a ditch, and left for dead by the road.

(April 19, 2024)


About the Author

Ivan de Monbrison is a person affected by strong psychic disorders that prevent him from having a “normal” life.  He has found in writing an exit to this prison. Or maybe it is a simple window from which like an inmate he can see a small square of blue sky above his head. His writing often reflects the never ending chaos within him, but at contrario to this mental chaos, the paper and the pen give him the opportunity to materlize this in a concrete and visible form. Writing is probably a slow death, but it’s probably also better than mere suicide in the end.