Paris Old Mosque

Tired, we wander once more
botanical pathways
comment on crows, seeders

pens holding red pandas
lazed asleep on logshade
the flowers press forward

out the back archway, then
basically clueless, we
wander around grey streets

Til up jumps the old mosque
with its blinding sun skin
we pass to shade where birds

& humans eat & drink
mint tea, seeds & pastries
we sit & read, watching

this crowding. Tile-glazed square 
dappled, shimmering. The
afternoon flutters off.

Lock & Key

In the jangled clouds and beams of april
We walked the inhuman boulevards of Paris
We stood on the île and, pestered slyly
We reluctantly left a lock, engraved
With our names. We shouldn’t have.

When arguments began to stick and curdle
When our insults began their moth-flutters in the air
We tried our best to break up, it was no use
We would fight in the night, rot in our sourness and split
Only to wake again in bed, covered in rust.

Something was obviously wrong, the rust stung
Left sores where it touched, got in our crevices
So we first disliked each other more and more
Til pain, pain was the everyday way of things
And the friction so great we ground each other to stubs.

Snapping off one day I managed to run, return to the city
Again I saw the Seine and heard its whispers
I approximated the key’s trajectory, looked:
The water boiled and surged in whirlpool boils
Nothing. I saw nothing but the dirt-flow

But then, sudden, surfacing from a deep sound
It came: whale mass of iron, clumps of lock-keys
Heralding an orange trellis of rustwater currents
The lock-demon, the million locks key-keeper swam
A trembling mass of promise from the murk.

I gazed, terrified, amazed at this dark mound
Of keys. Its breath shook the waters, it rose
And groaned like the under-guts of Paris
Numbered on seismographs as an underground train
I realised then we had made a terrible mistake.


There was company here, once
flashing brilliant, in the rosy light
of the image of the jilted
generations, travelling here to share it.
Ever present, Shakespeare, misunderstood
pristine on the wooden shelves
gathering no dust, nevertheless
for the endless browsing dusts it.

Writers still live, in the heart
in the ancien flats above,
but why – this place is ever done
and was before it started.
The only attraction the living fear
that ‘place’ is where the art is.

In the new café, tourists chat
amongst the serious workers, faces taut,
whose pensieve pauses view themselves
without a single thought
in front of a captive audience:
‘we live the life of The Writer
(as Orwell said, and Rilke)
‘It is necessary that we scribble
on our sacred pieces’, lightly
they speak this,
as fortune machines from victorian fairs:
pour coffee in one end
and out the other, sacred affairs.
Their notebooks (chosen well, unchosen)
whose mole skins crumble and peel away
leave printed faces peering out,
notes enclosing notes in.

Self-importance oozes from every crevice of the store
sometimes, slipping on it
we knock down books and dent them on the floor.

Place the building, in plastic wrapper
in a great green vendor on the river’s shore
and, labelling it ‘dead’ in permanent marker
watch as people walk by
not even reading this simple line,

It isn’t a given, what creates the buzz
the zeitgeist has when reading their books
a totalising idea with concomitant fuzz.
I say: why even bind a book today?
Get indignant at the question – go on.
Unthinking acquiescence to the past
quietly sterilising at conception.
There are millions of writers, crowding close
the gate has been opened:
we can’t go back, to the censor past
controlling what we write, choking
as style disintegrates (or rather shows
its reality as a sorting machine
of the infinite creation)
and why should we want to?
It’s surely amelioration.

They drown, in the deluge
conservatives, neurotics, police.
‘But this isn’t right, they say
holding out their Hemingway
(the bible to their vampire, drinking at the sheets)
Holding clawlike to the past,
blinded to their tendencies.

But theirs is not a thankless game
though they might think it so.
Production is a positive act, and real
(and original, in each repeat we know).
Sitting side by side, capital and ideal
charging three euros for a coffee,
and sliding into the abyss.
But, of course, i’m sat outside
while I’m writing this.