looking for paris


everyone i meet
these days
is looking for paris
i need somewhere quiet and thoughtful
to write
to read
to drink good coffee
paris, i tell them, paris in the nineteen twenties
then i wave vaguely toward the atlantic ocean
east of texas, i say
west of Prague—
i need somewhere
loud with intellect
a jacques brel town
where passions glow in argent blaze
and words are hot swords
that slice off your arm
paris, i repeat, but you are very late
and everyone is dead now
so you must be content to be among people
who are willing to stand in line
who do not believe the world can be lit
who let distraction
serve for intimacy—
but, of course, there is another way
you could always decide
to become paris yourself
be paris
be open all hours
let the people who are looking come to you—
let the liquor gush and the Gauloise choke—
smoosh paté between slabs of hard bread
and wash it down with thin-blooded beaujolais—
indulge in the stereotype
be the bad one
be the music, the paint, the colors, the dance
be paris
be the place that fills the hole in your spirit
with light
be paris and sing of amsterdam

—Don Whittington


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