Zackary Sholem Berger talks to Alexander Dickow, a poet, translator, and critic working in both French and English, about navigating countries, languages, and esthetics. With cameo appearances by Dr. Seuss, the Babylonian Talmud, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Here is the text of the poems read by Alexander Dickow on the podcast.

To a Politician

Your cellophane disguise for a tongue

Furiously unbefits the even knavest

Of these podium fisted Catilines I hate

Whose dim broadcasts encrust

With craven abjectives and slick nouns,

Whose paramount pronouncements’

Weighty grovel fresh veneers each victim eye,

Who gape and crave at limp wealth,

Puppets of their own slanted lip

And their thin speech as cheap

As its callous stakes are ruthless:

Our brittle faith, our breath, the truth.


Measureless and vacant husks

Veneer along the pale gaps

Kissing the smooth-lit kernels

Far across the hesitation


Where cycles dip

Ebbing forth aromas

Of nectar vicinities

All gleamed among

Their dim stretchings

Remote surroundments

Hint around lucid cusps

And milk-blinkings swerve

Over grooved vastnesses

Whose lofty gazes

Empty to the brim resound

Finespun legions

Of distant stone pivot

Within strange rings

And innocent strains

Swivel endless and lilt

Like hearts wept upon

The rings of far-fetched motes

Tingling their ancient aubades


D’incommensurables écorces

Enduisent selon les faîtes espacés,

Et frémissant le semis d’éclairages,

Floue les ourlets tout loin.

Arômes qu’émane

Un jusant cousus d’oublis,

Luisez vos affleurements sourds

Et vos proches nectars.

Des avant-preuves perlent

En glissant partout les orées lucides

Où des clins de lait dérapent

Pendant des éloignements vastes

Dont les grands regards

Vides à ras bord résonnent.

Des légions respirées

En pierre lointaine pivotent

Dans des cerclages

Et des airs d’innocence

Louvoient des vibrements

Comme des coeurs pleurés

Dessus les anneaux d’improbables noyaux

Frissonnant d’antiques aubades.

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