Prose poems by

J. V. Foix

Translated from Catalan by Johannes Beilharz


From: Diary 1918 (fragments)

In memory of Joaquim Folguera

I wounded your lover in a duel. But you are laughing about it because you are wearing your scarlet dress. And because, unfaithful as you are, you have replaced him with the scene shifter. You would have paid for your crime had the hairdresser not been your accomplice as the two of you so grotesquely disfigured my face. One beautiful morning, however, I shall take my revenge. The ceiling won't be as awfully low then as it is now, and there won't be as many dead birds painted on it.


I came upon you as your new lover gave you a lovely little box. But it wasn't a box: it was a book; and it wasn't your lover – it was me who gave you a box of watercolors in the colors of the rainbow.


When, from far away, I noticed my rival who stood motionless, awaiting me on the beach, I began to doubt whether it was really him or perhaps my horse or Gertrudis. As I came closer, I noticed that it was a gigantic phallus of stone that had been erected there ages and ages ago. Its shadow covered half the sea, and there was an undecipherable inscription in its base. I bent down to copy the inscription, but only my umbrella was there, open in the burning sand before me. Without any trace of ship or cloud, a pair of gigantic gloves were floating in the sea. The gloves worn by the mysterious monster that pursues you at night under the plane trees along the beach.

From: Diari 1918 (Fragments)


Shadows behind the lilacs

A thousand pink wings covered up the sky. Doors and windows were closed, and flags and pennants fluttered at each street corner. The oval shadow escaped up the street with horrifying majesty. The next morning, all the statuettes of saints in the parish had been decapitated.

Boys and girls from my village, their pallid nudity barely concealed under tender gauze of subtle colors, played on the plaza at night. Their voice resounds there as in a cellar, and birds are gathering to explore the depth of the bluish ponds of their eyes with their beaks. The other day I tried to join them in play by imitating the voice with a megaphone; but the boys, girls and birds turned to shadows among shadows. Before me, between the deserted plaza and the sky, a wire spiral rose, tragic and treacherous.

From: Ombres darrera els lilàs


"We leaned a can ..."

We leaned a can overflowing with salt clumps against the dead trunk of the oak in front of the boiler maker's house at the end of the lane. We tarred two old poles swinging in a gap in the branches of a eucalyptus, and set fire to a pile of verse of mine we had been unable to interpret. Elvira asked me if I didn't want to go gather acorns near the pits. Distracted because I was watching her mother soak aprons in acid-containing water, and not bidding her good-bye as usual at night, I untied the horse, wound a cloth around his eyes and got lost in the dense shadow of the trees lining the road. The trees from which the glass balls containing the fermenting dyes are suspended.

"Hem arrambat un bidó", from KRTU (1932)


Excerpt from Eberhard Geisler's afterword to his Catalan-German edition of prose poems by Foix:

In these texts, Foix discovers the world of dreams. More precisely put, he discovers the dream as a medium which, far from being the opposite of reality, sheds light on how reality is constituted in the subject, thereby suggesting that language and desire must play a major role in this process.

The English translation is based on the bilingual Catalan-German edition J. V. Foix, KRTU und andere Prosadichtungen (edited, translated from Catalan, and with an afterword by Eberhard Geisler), Vervuert Verlagsgesellschaft, Frankfurt, 1988.

© Herederós J. V. Foix 1988 / © Eberhard Geisler and Vervuert Verlagsgesellschaft 1988 / English translation © 2000 Johannes Beilharz.

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