The Poet perceives the symmetry of thorn and calyx.
The garishness of rose petals is intolerable and
nothing competes with the blueprints of his beloved.
In a land that finds solace in ostentation
The Emperor attempts to balance idealism and resignation
by enforcing laws and levying taxes.
But he just can’t stop eating Sacher Torte.
Slumped against the triumphal archway
the eyes of the Poet wring out the rain.
The Viennese widow conducts her guests
with a baton made of manners and wit.
Still she craves a letter most.
A scented document to lock away in a Koloman Moser desk.
The Emperor foresees how trickery and subterfuge design the horizon.
The people’s need to conquer chaos
is now the quieting of the scream inside his head.
Make no mistake. The Emperor has gone mad
and so the border must be sealed
against imaginary Ottomans.
The Poet will never realize that simplicity
is not the antidote to lavishness.
He writes to a woman who refuses him
entrance to her famed residence inside the Ringstrasse.
Nonetheless her beauty encloses him
like a gondola of the giant Ferris Wheel at the Prater.
The Chronicles of Marceline
In homage to the film Chronique d’un été, by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin
Première question: êtes-vous heureux?
Marceline walks across the Place de la Concorde.
Her skin has been inscribed with a number
and trauma provokes sporadic surveillance
but it also gives Marceline a voice that carries.
Marceline fears her sorrow is airborne
and that she has infected her younger lover.
But Jean-Pierre never had to decide whether to hide or inform.
(and he feels powerless to stop the war against Algerian independence.)
Marceline’s Paris is replete with invisible guillotines that dwarf all monuments.
Echoes crowd the boulevards.
It is the summer of 1960 but
November 2015 enroots in the lengthening shadows of late afternoon.
Every moment is postwar—yet armed conflict never stops.
But the scale of it, its proximity, and the degree of atrocity, do matter.
Marceline recounts a chance reunion with her father in the Camp.
He gives her an onion after the SS Officer hits her;
the papery skin of the bulb survives in her memory.
Later, afterward, her brother Michel struggles to recognize her:
“Je crois que tu es Marceline.”
The telling of her story only scratches the surface
and this epidermis itself contains layers.
She struggles with the melody of a song from her childhood.
By the Metro Marceline asks passers-by if they are happy.
Perhaps a Frenchman’s laughter is also contagious.