Courir les rues (excerpts)

(with the kind permission of the Besançon Center

for Lexicology)

Baudelairian Concordances

045008     over sleeping Paris was streaming
089007     old Paris is no longer the shape of a city
089029     Paris changes! but nothing in my melancholy
091026     crossing from Paris the swarming scene
103027     And dark Paris while rubbing its eyes
105016     confused churning of enormous Paris
105016     blurry churning of lavish Paris
105014     and some filthy dung that Paris rejects

102000     Parisian dream

089033     also in front of this Louvre an image oppresses me


Exaggerated Gestures

Someone questions you
and with great exaggeration you gesture
as if a few words didn’t suffice 
to say:
Mister you turn right twice
left three times fifty meters further
you turn in front of the corner 
pharmacy and there you are

you can also say: 
take the metro 
that will save me from gesticulating 
when giving you directions,
mister lost guy

but maybe you’re the one who’s lost it
when you’re accosted
about a street
you’ve never heard of 
you want to hide your ignorance
so you make exaggerated gestures


Poor People

On the bathroom wall
in the Palais-Royal metro station
you can read this statement
to me it seems monumental 

utilization of this stall
is strictly reserved for the
financially underprivileged
and for the infamous poor

Eight feet seven feet
Eight feet seven feet
it’s a quatrain
very Verlaine


Eiffel Tower in Winter

Under the snow the tower pales
upon the statistics fall flakes
despite the vanity of the thing
I seek to understand why


why all of this is not black, very black

even a little gray



Is the co-owner
and the cupronickel
a cupressina?
You might as well say that cypresses
come from Cyprus
and that Capricorns
consume nothing but capers

or so you tell yourself
as you walk from rue Capron to rue de Capri


That Day

At Marigny Square I acquired a Proust stamp.



Among the saddest streets of Paris
we can list the rue Villiers-de-l’Is-
le-Adam, the rue Baudelaire (Charles)
and the rue Henri-Beyle called Stendhal
really they’ve not been showered with honor
you might even begin to consider
they’ve been given a dressing down
being awarded the saddest streets in town


My Beautiful Paris

Leprous houses
choleric houses
plague-ridden houses

mucked-up buildings

apartment buildings attacked by measles
scarlet fever
and syphilis 

cabins chlorotic
cabins with scrofulous 
cabins with rickets






Through laundering
the walls, lovely smoke-blackened buildings
exposed their smudge
-d outlines the color of fudge
and if all this confection
were to dissolve
who would be duped by the deception?
the Japanese sightseer
could not help but dekodak
having nothing left to snap


Eros Advertising 

This Mother’s Day
give her
sexy stockings

people are indignant

but if mothers were no longer sexy
there’d be nothing but only children
alone with their Oedipus complex


A Problem of Cosmography

While the sun slowly sets behind the Arc de Triomphe
which was erected by that swashbuckling warmonger Napoleon 
it seems this celestial object swells and swells and swells
and reddens as embers do, before going off to set near Vernon 

What becomes of it then? We have made an inquiry
We have searched for the inn where this fat globe spends the night
Where does it lay its head? Does it slumber heavily? 
Where is the hay it hits and in which it sleeps tight?

The city is in the dark. Where is the lantern 
that made its way across the sky when we had no need of it
seeing as how day emanated from the limitless horizon

Yes, what befalls, down there, that globular entity 
that disappears at night into who knows what cranny 
whimsically leaving an echo of its glory


Advice for Tourists

Near Boulevard Sébastopol you can’t miss
the Acropolis
Boulevard de la Chapelle
the neighborhood of Whitechapel
Boulevard Jourdan
the Vatican
Porte de Pantin
the Kremlin
near Quai de la Mégisserie perch
Istanbul and Hagia Sofia church
on rue de Beaune
the Pentagon
rue Saint-Marc
on rue de Traktir lies
the Bridge of Sighs
rue des Beaux-Arts
Times Square
avenue de la porte de Montrouge
Place Rouge
and if there is sudden precipitation
the Café du Commerce will offer you a haven