Too Much Paris

Rue St. Michel’s
bridge above Seine,
rapid current below-
graffiti over Mona Lisa.
Monet underground
riding the Metro.

Montparnasse cigarette cafe
a smoky dream-
artists wander looking for cheap wine.
I spot Picasso arguing with a prostitute
who slept with Hemingway in the back of
Shakespeare and Company.

Burned books
de Gaulle upright
pissing on Nazi goosesteps
down the Champs- Elysees,
G.I. liberates and waves to crowds
later will high kick at the Moulin Rouge.

In Montmartre
Renoir sips espresso with Satie.
Van Gogh frantic with colors is all ears listening to
Toulouse-Lautrec’s short argument with Napoleon.

Seine slows
near long shadows of the Tuileries-
Medieval streets wind
toward jazz guitar and anisette
echoes of the lost generation
a movable Arc de Triomphe
while beat generation
lusts poetry in the La Marais cafes
drunk on opera.

Venus de Milo riding a bicycle
with French bread
under her arms.
King Louie seductive guillotine
captures brief bloody

Prostitutes take communion in Notre Dame
from father de Maupassant
luring them inside the confessional.

Alone in a dark cafe
argues with a gargoyle
later discovers the sewers of Andre Breton.

Space aliens receive signals from the Eiffel Tower
capture Salvador Dali
who is released quickly
too much
too crazy

too much Paris.


Istanbul Spice Market

Turmeric and saffron
carved mountains
near the Bosporus
separate a continent
a streetcar
a cinnamon mosque.

Arches span
narrow stone alley
stained of cumin
and bay refugees.

Ships of Genovese
tower over
bright fabrics
and leather jackets
dried flowers and roots,
paprika skin
comfort a tourist cafe
sipping Turkish
clove wine.

Crowded buses
on rapid streets
cools on ice
fish market
from the Black Sea.

Almost in Asia
lost on a swift Babylonian sea.


A piazza echoes a child’s laughter
off patched bricks and flapping clothes.
Parchment geographers and poets follow
into narrow streets
singing fractured opera
sipping espresso-
warmed by the sun
that grows
the red bougainvillea.

Trout River in Newfoundland

Western outpost
of sailors
and fishermen-
now idle.
The salty cod vanished
in greed

Fishing shacks
faded maroon paint
peel off into the wind
near the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Weathered lobster traps and buoys
stacked neatly,
wait for another season,
as a man with red calloused knuckles
slowly stretches a fishing net to dry-
stares at the man with the camera.

The cramped grocery store
has frozen ham steaks
and canned vegetables-
along with bandages and tobacco.
Elderly men sit
near the door in wooden chairs
and observe all,
saying nothing
only a barely perceptible nod
as someone passes.

A man repairs a pick-up truck
in a beat aluminum garage,
turns to watch
someone walking
on the muddy gravel road.
near an idle lumber mill.

The majestic fjords draw tourists
who pass through town
and leave
with photographs.

The one-story school braces for September
as children will soon gather,
later to flee for jobs and city life,
all who remain
just sit.


This work was first published as part of the Sage ~ December 2017 Issue, of the Coldnoon journal.



John Raffetto

John Raffetto

A lifelong resident of Chicago. Some of his poetry has been published in Gloom Cupboard, Wilderness House, BlazeVox, Literary Orphans & Exact Change. Has been writing poetry for over 30 years; runs an online poetry portal, Bongo Wilderness Poetry; holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Northeastern Illinois University; and has orked as a horticulturalist and landscape designer for many years at the Chicago Park District. Currently, he is an adjunct professor at Triton College.