Saturday, November 9, 2013

Coffeeshop Writers with Presents for All My Ladies - Poems from my trip - The Rug Merchant / Climbing the Stairway of Le Sacre Coeur

This lined notebook was purchased at the Musee de Luxembourg. I thought the writers would enjoy it. Painting is by Botticelli 'Venus et les Graces Offant.' Detail. 1583.

Venus and the Graces offer Presents to a Young Girl.

Below is the moleskin diary I brought with me, a gift from this very same writing group in another incarnation.

I was terribly busy this morning getting ready for the group. First, tho, I must cook.

My scrumptious Cream of Vegetable Soup was bathed in Soy Milk. I talked to Carolyn Constable, one of my postcard correspondents, as I chopped up the Green Beans, Asparagus, Parsnips (first time I ever bought them, learned from Vicki Mortimer), cremini mushrooms, garlic, etc, and seasoned with grated ginger and nutmeg.

I had no idea what to write about for our 1:30 pm group. I began writing at 1 pm and it took all of 45 minutes to write two poems.

Entering the coffee shop, I saw the girls sitting together. Carly and Marf sat next to each other and their blouses were so patterned and colorful I thought they were Siamese Twins wearing the same thing.

Carly brought a piece about being self-centered and not paying enough attention to her husband's needs.

She said our writing group allowed her that insight into herself.

Marf added to her modern Bible stories by sharing a story of a modern-day Esther. Imagine her horror when she was chosen to be a member of the harem.

You know, I'd never thought of that, how awful it must've been to be torn away from your family.

She also read a poem about getting together with kids from her elementary school. How they apologized to one another for hurting one another's feelings.

Donna read a marvelous poem about being on Death Row. "I think a lot about prisoners," she said. I grabbed it for the Compass.

Linda Barrett rewrote The Cat's Revenge, a clever fantasy tale. Each draft makes it better.

Beatriz wrote an essay called The Monarch's Breadbasket, which is declining every year. The monarch eats the milkweed plant which is being devastated by chemicals such as Roundup.

Fortunately there are advocacy groups which fight for the monarch.


Mon frere passed out
on the Persian carpet
in his bedroom
and was never heard
from again.

We loved our David,
say it in French, and
it’s beautiful, like our
young brother who was
born with a fine but
alien brain.

In Mr Hashani’s shop
in Paris he laid before us
his finery
carpets from the world over

A small one caught my eye
Reds like the reddest apple
for Snow White
Deep Blues like the Picasso’s nudes
It was not
I want to tell you
the most beautiful carpet
I have ever seen
yet I had to have it.

My eyes fixed on Mr Hashani
a small man in a sweater-vest
with eyes I can only call
defeated since he left his native
for Paris is a place of refuge

Although I shall never really know
I believe he gave me a special price
as he turned it over and showed me
where the weaver had plunged her needle
again and again and again
and I pictured my brother
at home in my living room
sitting on the rug
and working his long
fingers through the tiny
his voice
lifted in song.


Like the cross on Golgotha
it beckons
will I get there in time?
it’s a short life, you know,
and I'm not so young anymore
if the sky has eyes
it would watch me
mount the stairs
my breath coming in gasps
my beating heart –
it pondered blindly in my mother’s womb -
is fearless
and forever
I hold the cold cold rail
and walk over
candy wrappers
smashed water bottles
and the scourge of the French:
their smoked-out cigarettes

My black boots grimed with
what’s fallen on the Paris sidewalks
and the stairway of the Hotel Joyce
patter upwards
a pawn to no one
not even Hemingway
Gertrude Stein and the
Americans seeking
new ways of seeing
in this ancient city
which chose to let
Nazis roam free
rather than devastate
their Mona Lisa

A Jew, like Jesus,
I climb higher staring
at the sanctuary where
I will shortly gain entrance
I pause to rest
my daughter beside me
we lean over the railing
at the highest point in the city
a handsome cleanshaved
Muslim asks if we are

As we nod, he cries "Obama"
and high-fives our hands
olive skin touching beige
we bid him goodbye and
return to the stairs
the endless stairs of
Le Sacre Coeur,
a decade older than my ninety-one year old mother,
who arrived here in her thirties,
not finished having children,
not knowing that her firstborn
would climb the stairs
on her behalf
the stairs of
Le Sacre Coeur in
Paris France.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, I must comment. First I am impressed that you wrote these two in 45 minutes. I seem to be laboring over mine and revising a lot more lately, and for whatever reasons, am going through a phase of not wanting to post anything and of keeping my newest close to me. I haven't analyzed why and it will probably change.

    But back to you..I was grabbed by the first stanza of the first poem and moved by the rest. The second painted such a wonderful picture of the place and what it made you think of and feel. Excellent! I am always so honored to read your poems and to share in your thoughts for a small while as I read. Thank you!