I have never been to Paris,
and so I must write about
my time there, how Hemingway
threw the gauntlet at my feet
and challenged me to an armwrestling
match three times, beating me each
and every time, and Hemingway
that bastard, sure he could write,
but he was a poor winner,
gloating and bragging
to everyone at the table
that he had bested me,
and after I was thoroughly emasculated,
out came the olive branch, his offer
to buy me a drink, which I graciously accepted
and then proceeded to throw in his face
(it seemed like the right thing to do).
Ah, Paris, in the spring, the Seine flowing like
a sun-ribbed artery, its banks pulsing with activity,
and my morning pitstops for a croissant and café au lait
at that bakery whose name I can’t remember
but whose smells
held a forever place in the stomach of my memories,
those nights spent dreaming among the mothballs
and gauzy webs in Balzac’s dusty garret,
or dwelling tenderly on the illusory prospects
of teatime with Proust,
and how maybe just maybe I’d challenge
that French dandy to an armwrestling match
which I was sure I would win and therefore
restore the dignity I had lost to that hairy brute
Hemingway, then fretting—but what if I lost?—
then eschewing altogether the masculine idiocy
of armwrestling bouts, and choosing to focus
on the lighted spools and florid ribbons
of text
that Proust, from his cork-lined room
doubling as tomb tripling as womb,
gave to the world at large.
Ah, Paris, you lovely hungry bitch
with claws
you’ve got me by the balls again
why didn’t I visit you sooner?
(or, in Reality’s case, at all)
one day, in the near future,
I will be invited to read
at that well-worn church
of a bookstore
Shakespeare & Co,
the gig procured by the ghost
of Sylvia Beach
godbless her soul
still pulling strings for writers
in the afterlife,
it will be a dream come true
so I will have to remember to stop
and announce to the audience
that I am in the middle of a dream
lucidly beamed into the warm cradle
of its center
and one salty French lady
with high excellent cheekbones
and a yellow silk scarf
bunched globular round her throat
will lightly dismiss—Ah, crazy American,
he makes no sense, no sense at all,
and everyone will laugh
including me
and then the dream will continue
already in progress.
I knew you way back when,
same as
not at all,
as myth
and dream-lore
is a funny business that way.
My soul
you see
flew into
the window
of that clean, well-lighted café
that you left open
I think the year was 1923
and my soul
rested there
among a couple of insomniacs
one sad old man
a whiskered wino
and a young thin barista
with a bad attitude.
It was nothing short of heaven
as a happy haunt.
So, in closing,
all I can say is this—
Paris, you well-heeled mistress
with the bright rouge wig
and eternally puckered lips,
send for me
and my soul
when the time is right.
I’ll be waiting,
heart in mouth,
pen in hand.
With love and bask,
your pal and valentine,

About John Biscello

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag. His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.
This entry was posted in Poetry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Paris

  1. jocelyn harper says:

    ‘cork-lined room
    doubling as tomb tripling as womb’


  2. This is outstanding. I’ve been to Paris and it happened just this way.


  3. RahulYuvi says:

    Beautifully written,, Hey but I was in Paris with my family very recently and We just loved the vibes there.. I would like to share my whole Paris experience here and by the time you gonna end reading this write up, you will be in deep love with Paris,I guarantee ! 🙂
    #MinimumText #MaximumPhotographs #JustGoogle : #InsideOutwithRahulYuvi

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s