« To the Highway », poem

To the Highway

by Olivier Aulry



I wrote the poem L’autoroute in my teens, in French, and recently undertook to self-translate it into « my » English, which I’d say is more literary than fluent. I let the language come out to speak, from me, from  my knowledge of it, my readings of last centuries’ English and American authors, like James or Austen, Stevenson and Conan Doyle, the great Whitman; I let it any long it may take, just keeping the direction of the original poem. I’m not sure everything’s correct and it might seem weird or clumsy at times –shall I call this idiom Clumsish ? My purpose is to wear on that language as a mecha armour in the mangas, to re-visit old experiences of mine the poem tells. Besides, I admit feeling strange and spacy using the universal language, so some passers-by from Germany, Italy, New Zealand may read my poem and hear the song inside, if any. «Past is like a foreign country » ; those Racine’s words sound fit. 

The situation in the poem is: A son keeps his father company on his way to visit a plant he looks over in the North-East town of Fameck, ten miles away from Metz.





Upon thy nice and infinite length

the car around both flees.

Stillness is quite no threat.


Both they are, father and son,  forty-seven and a r seventeen, 

and night’s coming for sure inside to them between.


Air blades whistle sharp through the slightly open glass,

other noises sound like dumbness.

They both flee easily

upon thy nice and infinite length.


Stillness is not a threat 

under the huge power lights

the bearer of both sets backwards as flying stars.


And deeply drowned  about the even land,

the boy has  lost his seeing sense, turned mirror-cold,

while countryscape is opening off slowly

beyond the unwinding chromèd-tapes of the side fences 

– unceasingly cut off by car yellow flashes.


The man is weirdly alone

 caught drunk into silence

say, the few words exchanged

resound as serial hammers beating on steel.


Upon thy nice and infinite length

spreads out the Ocean’s stillness

rolling between thine banks ;

and this grey cloudy night of both

gets red from a sudden metled metal flow of thou.


Among tall brick chimneys

goes on a pipe straight and evenly dark

that swallows lights,

while a big blue flame tears out the sky.


Both they flee.

Stillness’s no threat.


By the frightening solitude of both their hearts,

icy air blades interfere, long curls from the youth’s come off too

and a big blue flame, of hidden draws,

tears the sky out.

(publié dans la revue  Traction Brabant , 2013)