In honor of National Poetry Month, here’s another poem:
Down the Champs Elysees
I was so nervous
unsure if the way I was moving was right.
Could anyone tell I had never done this before?
Everyone else made it look so easy.
Just a spark
and they were on fire.
It took me a few times past the Arc de Triumph.
I thought I had it,
but the light went out.
I fumbled again.
I pressed my lips down,
opened my mouth.
Blushing in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower
I took a drag of my first cigarette.
This poem is from my book This is Paris, which I wrote during a week in Paris. The first poem in the book I wrote before I left and the last poem I wrote when I returned, but all the poems in between were written while I was in France. I greatly enjoy poetry books that have little factoids featuring the poem’s backstory, so I did just that for this book! Here are the notes on the poem above:
This poem came about by playing on the sexual energy of Paris and exploring my ignorance of how to light a cigarette. I had certain requirements for the one and only cigarette of my life: I wanted to be sitting at a cafe where I could see the Eiffel Tower while smoking it. I had purchased a pack of French cigarettes, Gauloises Blondes, and felt extremely self-conscious as I tried to light one. I had to watch people smoking around me to see what end to light. (Sometimes smart people are really dumb.) I keep the remaining pack, all 18 cigarettes (there were 19, but I lost one as part of my Janis Joplin Halloween costume), near my writing desk. I love to open the pack and smell them, it brings me right back to the Parisian cafes.