100th Volume Retrospective: Nature Mort by Jim Jarmusch

Jim Jarmusch, a former editor of The Columbia Review, is a director, screenwriter, and actor. He won the Caméra d’Or prize at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival for his first major film Stranger than Paradise. Most recently, his film Paterson was in competition for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016.

Nature Mort

by Jim Jarmusch


the afternoon having left some sun
on the arm of the manila armchair
reminds the house of what is housed
of colors arranged in orders
white mohair curtains fastened like shadows
along brown walls
an opened window framing
a constant flush of sound
like a man who has lost his money

once he had been given rusted valentines to hold:
the air around the man holding
the rusted valentines
having no trace of shadings
his rough face made rougher by
the fullness of the sky
the sky full of clouds and clouds
floating like white roses

once a small blond girl had entered the room:
“look, isn’t this a lovely seashell?
it’s the largest seashell in the whole world.”

once a woman with hair like cellos:
through arms deft and opened
he refused to crush wreaths of flower to him
suspecting them laced with poison
the edges of her heart discolored
the roof perused its collection of snow

soon the snow will turn violet
offering smooth and blank arrangement
the chair fading into dots
the window into mirrors
later when stillness has stilled the house
the dreams will bring
Little bouquets to the man’s brain

from Vol. 54 (1975)