on y va!

this city is for walking and yes
we are crammed down narrow streets
leather bags and silk scarves hang in import
export emporiums vying for attention next
metal hooks for cured meats and bejewelled trinkets

we pass through gated alleys into hidden courtyards
that dwell in cigarette smoke blended with ground
coffee and exotic aromas from the four corners
where North Africa meets Far East and promises
lovers will meet their lovers under moonlight

the police sirens will chant a constant on y va!
a hurry up come here let’s go clamorous call
climbing twisting stairs to lowly rooms we lean
on a balcony and I smell your hair but don’t know
your name nor you mine which makes us equals

in this city which is a souk or a caravanserai
your eyes more dark mystery than a fortune teller
I can’t help but lose myself in this story
a humble poet with nothing better to do than
fill the pages of notebooks with his dreams

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apricots

keeping the windows open
we invited in
the sounds and smells
from the street below

the boulangerie opposite
the pâtisserie adjoining
the bar tabac on the corner left
the early morning cleaners
coughing Gauloises curses
shouts and moped engines revving
the chop and chuckle of the butcher’s cleaver

the Paris sun filtered down
through narrow stone valleys
warming our arms and shoulders
leaning on the balcony railings
the universe holding us together
the space around us impartial
the air we shared vital

stepping inside you disappeared
I heard the door shut like gunfire
the echo of your footsteps on the stairs
the distant voice of the concierge
as you bolted into the street waving
head turned to blow me a kiss
which I duly caught and returned

but you were gone again
like the breeze that wasn’t there
only the image of your red dress
burnt on my retina
your lips hot on mine
our lovemaking exhausting
time distorted in a city rush

we ate the frangipane tarts
sprawled on the bed half-clothed
the heat rising from the morning
as if Provence had ridden here
bareback on a Sahara wind
each glistening apricot oozing
southern promises of heavenly delights

keeping the windows open
we invited the world outside
to listen in to our world inside
our room above the street below

tracing footsteps

arriving Gare du Nord
and stepping out into
the late afternoon rush hour
there is rain on the pavements
and puddles in the gutters
motorbikes lean in patient lines
clouds gather in strips of sky

as we look up
and as we walk along
Rue la Fayette
the air is heavy
it feels toxic
with promises

Metro station Poissonnière
café – bar – tabac – brasserie
Metro station Cadet
turn right and right again

our heartbeats echo sirens
our tongues are tied
in tired throats
we want to roll the names
between our lips
like French kisses
but we are parched

when we arrive
at the Hotel Strassbourg
Rue de Montholon
leaning out on the balcony
smoking Gauloises Disque Bleu
every bit the Parisians

my belle de jour
my plus belle de nuit

as the night falls on the day
we join the crowds in Pigalle
sex shops and harlots hussle
we hold hands and smile
ce soir mon amour
I whisper in your ear

and tomorrow Père Lachaise
because you want to leave
a cigarette for Jim Morrison
and say bonjour to Proust
and non je ne regrette rien
to Édith Piaf and Oscar Wilde

and the day after that
the corridors of the Louvre
with Turkish Bathers for me
and Liberty Leading the People
for you before

we arrive at our conclusion
under a brightening blue
September brilliance
not quite Yves Klein
more Pompidou pipes
or Monet at Giverny

let’s stay here forever you say
or until the money runs out I reply
but the Gard du Nord beckons
and the ferry will take us home
from this fantasy

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Aime-moi ne m’aime pas

without holding his hand
she taught him how to love art
on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur
amongst the anciens échos du Louvre
and behind the shutters of her camera

she posed with backstreet hoardings
pencils poised in Le Jardins des Tuileries
shapes and colours from life abstracted
Miró, Chagall, Matisse, Jean Debuffet
Métro, tabac, café bar et brasserie

in blue duffel bags, morning boulangeries
pain aux chocolat flakes and Yoplaits
her father’s Leica in smooth leather case
her sketchpad, his notebook, M. Leconte
the weather warm, reasonable for spring

yet her coldness was her weirdness
between the sheets he failed to excite
his passions artistiques between her legs
she cried in bouts,  made him feel guilty
left no choice but to smoke on the balcony

he kept the photographs as aide mémoires
the Pompidou pictures and Tour Eiffels
and the following year he returned alone
to the same hotel in the Rue de Montholon
a room with no view, bins and brick yards

and the sound of lovers through thin walls
the bed frame banging, mattress squeaking
mon amour, mon amour, tu es mon amour
he is tearing the pictures, ripping up the past
casting them out into air and the alley trash

“I loved her un peu, beaucoup, passionnément,
à la folie, pas du tout…”

2

 

Searching for Avalon.

Does my header art remind you of a seventies Roxy Music album cover? Maybe it’s the foliage and the expectation of two scantily clad women appearing from behind the signs. The signs themselves were photographed on Gran Canaria during a trip in January 2016. Much needed winter sun. A zigzag path opposite the hotel led to a rocky headland, a lighthouse and a favourite spot for suicides. It was a long, thoughtful journey to the rocks below. A small memorial of painted stones marked the spot near to where those brave unhappy souls had taken their final step of faith into the unknown: Nayra, Saul, Alberto.

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Just names on the parched volcanic ground to me but to someone else a loved one – brother, sister – boyfriend, girlfriend. The bottle of beer reminded me of Jim Morrison’s grave in Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Perhaps an anniversary gift and one for the road. The heat of Gran Canaria in January seems an ocean of time away and I look now towards my two month summer trip to the States which starts on the 25th July. Searching for Avalon maybe.