“Unveiling Jean Cocteau” by Hélène Cardona


Unveiling Jean Cocteau

I emerge from painted panels
astride a panther, rapacious illusionist
rippling through mist, a sensual robe.

The cardamom storm weaves stampeding
unicorns, perfumes clouds in cinnamon
quickening the skin,

unsettles the moon at the edge of the mind,
flings hail and sleet in great spears,
reminds me it’s a wild place we inhabit.


A citizen of the United States, France and Spain, Hélène Cardona is fluent in English, French, Spanish, German, Greek, and Italian. A poet, literary translator, actor, and dream analyst, Hélène is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Hemingway Grant and the USA Best Book Award. Her books include three bilingual poetry collections, most recently Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016) and Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013), and two translations, Beyond Elsewhere (by Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, White Pine Press, 2016) and Ce que nous portons (by Dorianne Laux, Éditions du Cygne, 2014). With Yves Lambrecht she co-tranlsated Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for WhitmanWeb.

[The above poem appears in Life in Suspension and is reprinted here with permission of the author.]

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