Tales of a Paris Flâneur

My Paris begins with 

Those early days 

As a conscious flâneur;

I recall the couple 

On the Metro,


When I was still innocent 

Of its labyrinthine complexities;


Slim pretty white girl,

Clad head to toe 

In new blue denim, 

Wistfully smiling,

While her muscular black beau 


Stared straight through me 

With fathomless, fulgorous orbs;


And then one of them spoke 

(Almost in a whisper):

‘Qu’est-ce que t’en pense?’

Until it dawned on me,

Yes, the slender young Parisienne 


With the distant desirous eyes

Was no less male than I.


Being screamed at in Pigalle, 

And then howled at again 

By some kind

Of wild-eyed wanderer

Who suggested I seek out 


The Bois de Boulogne

For what he saw as my destiny;


Cash squandered 

On a cheap gold-plated toothbrush, 

Portrait sketched at the Place du Tertre,

Paperback books 

By Symbolist poets,


Second hand volumes 

By Trakl and Delève,


Metro taken to Montparnasse, 

Where I slowly sipped

A demi-blonde

In one of those brasseries,

Such as those


Immortalised by Brassai

In the famous photographs.


And where an ancient loup de mer

In a naval officer’s cap,

His table bestrewn

With empty wine bottles


And cigarette butts,

Repeatedly screeched ‘Phillippe!’


Until a patient young bartender

With patent leather hair,

And an affable half-smile,

Filled his wine glass

Quite to the brim,


With a mock-obsequious:

“Voila, mon Captaine!”


Losing Rory’s address,

Scrawled on a page 

Of Musset's Confession,

Walking the length 

And breadth of the Rue St. Denis;


‘What an artists paradise,’

Comme on m’a écrit une fois.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

'Tales of a Paris Flâneur' consists of a patchwork of memories and impressions of Paris compiled between autumn 1982 and spring ’84, and possibly partially originating as notes or makeshift journal entries. It came close to being rejected, but was ultimately saved in May 2017 by being fused with another Parisian piece, and then restructured.

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