Trip to France

Kelly Shaw

Write what you know.
“But we don’t know anything.”
– John Ashbery

Like a gliding igloo sliding south
to be melted by glistening warm coconut drops,
or a Stonehenge slab flopping itself over
to try to fit itself in with its cousin
the Mediterranean amphitheater,
and pausing to take in the beautiful
runway of Elm tress colonnading
the French country road
where a magnificent trumpet player
dazzles spastic birds in the distance,
encouraging them to try out strange new songs,
there’s an elegant party behind a chatelet
somewhere nearby trying to release itself
and unite its participants. I can sense
the clandestine love-making going on
in the backrooms and like it.

But the hunting group is more interested
in bonding with the ancients
off in the foggy bogs, and excited
by the pounding waves, rough-housing
kids run along the narrow cliff crags
where the wind’s whimsy complies
and doesn’t sweep one of them off today.

Yet the apotheosis of solitude
still cannot raise its head
if it tried, and will continue to wander
among the fields and distractions
along its way up to those walking
next to the avalanches.

Virgin births are not thought of,
nor yet haunting choral harmonies
heard, but pearls are leered at
with mortal dollops of half-light.

The weapons arsenal is toyed with
and clinking goblets smooth over
any anxieties.

Two little fishes suckle the hostess’s breasts
as part of her live costume design, causing
an unheard-of suburban bacchanalian
uproar. The compartmentalists stew, the dogs
howl and the moon burnishes its pulsating
gleam the carpenters like to hammer to.

The valets sing out a chorus of the
chatelets grouted from the blood
that matches their jackets, but quickly
the trained horses are slapped to gallop
over their voices – all until the festival
of a savage storm arrives to make
its own dance in the festivities.

The happy are thrown landing
on haystacks, the unfortunates on
pitchforks or cobbled streets
where bakers are calmly
selling their bread and whistling
to their vision of the world
to come – for they too know
they’re unable to avoid the ghost.

How to negotiate these various escapades,
infused hours of our regions and
dreams catalyzed by the slightest nudge
is anyone’s guess until after years
of mistakes, and all the more mistakes,
coalescing each time into something
hopefully frightfully new.