When I Only Thought To Write of Paris


When I only thought to write of Paris

I remember when I only thought to write of Paris
when I wanted to wallow in the blue sky
of the basement breakfast room
of our cheap hotel near the velvet of
La Dame de La LIcorne,
or when I allowed myself to taste
good but half-limp croissants like those shoved
to the peeling door
of our bed-sized room near Notre Dame where,
already broken-up,
we wept–

And when I thought the World Trade Center
was horribly gaudy
with its fluted gold columns, burnished fake
as a plastic fire,
its red carpets thick
as the Donald’s wished-for bangs, its long swish
of many
trooped flags–

And later how strange it felt
when my children’s PC New York school
hung the Stars and Stripes over its door,
and how, this time, when we wept
it was like Jesus, not
for ourselves–

And I remember–was it September 16?–
singing in the alcove behind the altar, our West Village church
(because of the crowd)
and how then when we wept, we did not
feel like Jesus but
sorrowful little children, who,
no matter how tightly their hands are clasped
cannot bear the streets ahead
or any more
dark nights–


Another poem for my prompt on Real Toads about writing to an exercise.  I don’t know quite how to express my sadness and fraternite with what is going on in France–a start, I guess–

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19 Comments on “When I Only Thought To Write of Paris”

  1. There are so many memories attached.. And this is just why they do what they do. It’s about our memories and history, it’s not just about the people they killed, it’s our stories, our love, the food we tasted. Great thoughts here,

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    This is amazingly lyric and lush, k, especially for the subject. The comparisons and similes are all spot on(the crumbling of the limp croissants, the human breakup, the impact of an incomprehensible adult tragedy returning us to an unformed, innocent and so much more vulnerable state) leaving the reader washed over and somehow cleaner at the end. So difficult to write about this–you have done so excellently.

  3. This poem is so beautiful that it almost makes me want to tear my heart out. You are so eloquent and articulate and at the same time lyrical. Each word goes where it should go. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  4. Brendan Says:

    Yes, all we can do is start — and the confession here taps an old grief to make a beginning with the new, layering into memories of Paris (redolent as those half-limp croissants) the naked pain of a post-9/11 memorial, what it felt like to be so raw in moving forward. This draft catches all the chill of that moment.

  5. othermary Says:

    There are way too many of these dark nights going on. Beautiful and sad and thoughtful, K.

  6. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    This is beautifully said, Karin. I have lived through an era of terrorism, and know the dread and fear it instills. My heart goes out to all who must suffer for the vain self-interest of fanatics.

  7. Helen Dehner Says:

    This poem is astounding on so many levels .. I inhaled it, not wanting to let go.

  8. gillena Says:

    You end your poem in a sauce of despair, so many are soaking in today

    Much love…

  9. Rommy Says:

    This is astounding in its intensity. The confusion and hurt caused by the world’s horrors is very well conveyed.

  10. Sherry Marr Says:

    WOW!!!!!!! This is FANTASTIC. Just brilliant. Truly, one of your best.

  11. lynn__ Says:

    To process the incoherence of violence dries my pen…but this draft is eloquent, K. Thank you.

  12. ellaedge Says:

    So, beautiful~

  13. This reads like a prayer… something that should be experienced slowly and softly… memories that grow into chants…

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