BlazeVOX’s tagline is “publisher of weird little books,” and The Paris Poems qualifies, beginning with the dedication: “This book is equally dedicated to my husband and traveling partner, my parents, Victor Hugo, and the French macaron.” But, who isn’t captivated by the allure of Paris? (“Always arrive in Paris / on a Sunday afternoon / the skeleton of this fastened city / will become your bones”). Who can forget that Paris has given us some of the most memorable of artistic characters, stories we can never relive or truly adequately duplicate? (“Paris can never be our poem / it belongs to / Gertrude Stein and Alice B. / Henry and Anaïs / the filaments of a million lights / totemic in the tourists’ eyes”). Who doesn’t know that Paris is fashion central? (“Admit / it was a little sadistic / that 249 mile jaunt from / farm country / into history / the soles of your shoes / diffusing the gold medallions of dawn,” from the poem about Louis Vuitton). Who doesn’t long for the patisseries of Paris? (“Pledging my loyalty / like an immigrant seeking citizenship / I drank a cup of chocolate chaud / in a dessert house / steps from where Marie Antoinette / lost her head.”)Who doesn’t believe that Paris is about romance? (“Paris makes you want a man / who understands how to wear a scarf”). Who doesn’t realize that Paris is overrated? (“Most people fly to Paris to see the Louvre / between you and me / Mona Lisa isn’t that pretty / really”). Who doesn’t wish for (nationless) salvation?
When the gypsy closest to me dropped
his fake offering I thought about faith
being a concept more than a state
as the polished tin rolled towards a sewer grate
near the base of Notre Dame where they sell
hot cross buns to represent
the crucifixion of Jesus
as every moveable feast
and how we store the idea of resurrection
in such a dark, brooding place
that seeking our fortune in a gypsy’s ring
might be enough salvation.
This weird little book is magnifique. It made me long for Paris. It made me want to read more of this poet’s work, to write, to meet Suzanne Burns in person, to support BlazeVOX Books, to bring the city (where I went only once briefly as a teenager) back:
Yesterday I baked macarons
to bring the city back.
Paris, but not really Paris…
But really…The Paris Poems.