Friday, May 27, 2016


Do you ever find yourself bargaining with people?  Over yourself I mean. “We’ve fasted,” she said almost immediately when we met. “We cut out all the sugar, the alcohol, the cheese. Dairy is terrible for you.” She looked thinner than when I last saw her.  The whole family was thinner. “We gave them the house, and took the baby and stayed at my mother’s house,” she explained.  “That way the kids (in their 20’s) could fast the whole week without being disturbed.” She, a harpist, looked me over, “I suppose singers would have a difficult time fasting for a whole week.”

I’ve been slowly losing weight. I look different since we last met, however, in comparison to my friend, I looked less different given our respective strategies.  I’ve never been inclined to even consider not eating for a week. We met, as usual, outside Paris where I was invited to my friend’s house for a big French family occasion for which we traditionally graze for hours and drink until we want to roll around the grass to cool off our bloated skin.  Despite her announcement, and a bit relieved, I still found myself eating small amounts of cheese, sugar and drinking alcohol every day. And then a lot more of all of that the day of the party.  The French bounties and traditions seemed to override the idea of deprivation.

“I mean there is a reason that Jesus went to the desert for forty days,” she said.  Granted, normally I would have been eating a lot more of sugar or let’s say normally xyz times everything a bit more, but this time the reduced quantities didn’t bother me – my teeth were hurting. I sent my dentist an email over the weekend.

She stirred her hot lemon water, and I stirred my deluxe hot chocolate.  “What’s the difference?” I asked at the café.  For four euros you get the powdered hot chocolate and for five euros you get real hot chocolate imperial style. Sensing that I wasn’t going to be eating the normal French way, gourmand, I ordered the deluxe for fortification.  

What was I to say?  “Sure, I’d love to eat less,” wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. 

“Your teeth are in pristine condition.” My dentist announced this week. But we agreed that I would have a filling replaced because it looked like it, very slightly, may be leaking. “You are a bit sensitive. Do you eat a lot of fruit?”

A staple of my diet. I adore eating fruit. I reminded myself in the café in France that I had some extra apples in my bag, so in case I was going to eat less, I had a backup plan. My friend might insist on a light meal here or there.  I could manage the new system.

Part of the big family celebration was partaking of the Mass on Sunday. Her first two children had gone to public school.  The last one had been going to private Catholic schools.  A thread of more serious Catholicism seemed to be wafting around the house. “The Russians did experiments for years with fasting.” Russians equaled Soviets, and the Soviet breadbasket. “It was really an ecstatic experience, you get an amazing level of energy after the third day.”

“On the third day he rose again,” the priest intoned. We were sitting in the icy church of St. Martin de Champeaux.  This was my first ever visit to the ex-abbey which used to be affiliated with Notre Dame de Paris back in the middle ages. The choir stalls were from the 15th century and full of fantasy featuring carved heads on egg bodies, serpentine faces in profile, preaching pigs and other occupations.  A right smart and contemporary rendition of the world of Breughel.

Those who could join Communion did so, however, being the Protestant in the tent I did not queue.  There among the cold yellow stones, I did not belong.  As a guest I was extended charity. As a friend I was extended compassion.  As a person, I was given two legs to walk around by some merciful God.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Sense of Sudden Loss But Suede Still Walks

Once upon a mild spring day some time ago, I thought of all the possibilities I might end up with this. Not this of now, but this of something else. Perhaps you don’t follow. As I watch, middle aged, all the possibilities fall apart, I realize that they never occurred. In honesty I didn’t believe that the impossible might arrive, but I thought maybe because I see others with the program, I too might stumble upon it one day.

It just was never quite as it should have been.  Young I was quite trained to make sure that others thought the road I walked was paved with ingots, and I spoon fed what people, even though they didn’t want to see the bitter future looming, the aversion they so delighted in, as a magical vanilla essence mirrored in my adolescent eyes and beamed upon them.

As I sit in an environment, privileged to spy and be addressed to by a smile and a concerned eye, that never happened to be the core of my intimate life, I realize even more that my molecules do not and will not take a bite out of that confection. 

We are fed so many unscientific meals, we believe in the unproven.  “I need something warm,” she said having discovered she’d developed food poisoning. “Coffee,” she exclaimed. I don’t know about all you other westerners but we’ve been told coffee is a diuretic substance and unless we needed to shed bloat and puff to get into an Oscar gown, so it’s the last thing to cure diarrhea. By warm, my Asian friend referred to the hot and cold, yin and yang, properties of food.  

These labels, do we need them? I read through some novel ideas that formed a theory about my past years, and I could have applied a new label to me, something to defer some questions and uncertainties and explain the future.  It wouldn’t change who I am, all those lies ago, and today I passed on the opportunity.  How about less drama?

Let me tell you instead
A pair of red shoes
At the bus driver’s side
Toes wedged next to the partition
(While at the concert......
No no it’s not right
I’m listening to a damn rottened score)
Go back and visualize
You must see
The red shoes
Under the navy blue trousers
Soft folds enhancing the ass
Murmuring to the chauffeur
Scarlet suede on the 63
Then let me say
Corner of Rue Monge
(The noise is killing me
The pianist leans too heavy)
I prefer watching red shoes
Listening for soft leather
Seduce the bus driver
All the passengers also
Longing to get off the route
And me out of this hall

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

We Speak to Cats

We speak to cats
Chooky chooky
No real reason why
But we do
At times
I’d like to say
Chooky chooky
At a human
Aimless circles
Tail switch
Hiding down 
Under sofa
Chooky chooky
I’d confirm
Instead of One O’clock
You will make it by two-thirty
At best the now oops-passé
That nap
Hmmm overtook you
Such a long morning
Contemplation Ommmmm
Chooky chooky
I have a gift for you.
The truth
On a string toy
Witness abusive fly
Containment in foyer
Your life
Slowly choked
Chooky Chooky
Pussy Cat