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Railyards, buildings, people: the Gare du Nord!

Once again, dear friends, I descend on Paris

in the true and uncertain belief, the understanding

that not a fingerprint, not a single trace remains

of my hidden store of memories:


How it all comes back!

How I seem to slide so easily into this city,

a city where truly I first fell in love,

where I began to half-believe in my own guiding star,

so many ... yet not many years ago.


Is this the time to search out these memories, unsure

of their quiescense ... unexploded shells from the battles

of youth, half-buried but still bloody dangerous?

God help me, I don't know.

Here I am.



This is where you go

when you want to disappear in Paris.

It's so easy for you, but not for those

that try to follow. I wasn't seriously

trying to hide or anything, just keeping

in practice, enjoying the castiron

certainty that in the space of two days

everybody (everybody!) knew you but

couldn't remember your name or appearance,

somehow, when the cops came calling.

A touch of West Belfast in Gay Paree.

My kinda town. I grew up with this stuff,

a connoisseur, I know how it works


Naturally I went to the Louvre,

and then I went to the Musee d'Orsay.

They let you take photos of the paintings!!

You can stick your nose right into them!

I loved the hell out of that.


No really, I'm big on paintings.


Did you go back to those scenes of your young youth?

I did.

Did you see these places, meet old companions?

Could be.

How did you feel? What did you say? What happened?

Edited by dedalus

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Amazing. Ah Brendan, this is wonderful. Very sensitive and you touched Paris right in the heart :) .


I am impressed by this poem. I love how you walk around, how you use the expressions, how you play with the feelings and with the reader by saying " this - but not really " " black but white " :) . .

But ok, this is a poem what asks for many things, the subject is too sensitive so it needs a lot of efforts.

Very clever written.

I enjoyed.


And the ending part is amazing.


Thanks for this wonderful sharing.



The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia



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Hi Brendan, Another great read, as Alek has already said it, "I love how you walk around" and I will add to that " with the reader in your backpack." It is as if I am there with you, seeing this historic city through your eyes. I've never been to Paris and have had no desire to go because of all of the stories I have heard from others who have been, how rude the people are and how dirty it is.... but reading this piece I've heard none of that. You show me a Paris that I've never heard before. Nice.



~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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Hi guys,


It is thoughtful and encouraging remarks like these that keep me going on. The original poem was split into two. The first part dealt with the emotional reaction (even now) to the human wastage of the First World War ... all those graves, thousands of them, and most of these guys were in their teens or early twenties. It is still unbelievable.


The second part was about arriving in Paris and going to stay in a hotel in the working-class district of Jourdain. The poem doesn't really tell you that much: it lays out a few hints and promises but it ends with unanswered questions: it can't be said to really "deliver" a catharsis or resolution. If it did, it wouldn't be Paris. That kind of personal history carried to its dogged resolution belongs to smaller, unhappier cities such as Newcastle or Birmingham in the UK or maybe Kansas City, Dallas or the other Birmingham (Alabama) in the USA. Paris is different.


I was intrigued by your reactions: there was no tour of the city; we didn't walk along the streets making comments; we didn't, in fact, do anything. Nevertheless, you seemed to get some sense of the city from what I wrote. That, to me, is the finest compliment.


I love Paris and I like the French. They can be the most annoying people on the surface of the planet but they have unshakable self-confidence and a real sense of style. They honestly and seriously don't care what other people think about them. You can rail against their "arrogance", get seriously upset when they simply ignore you, call them "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", pour French wines into the gutters, rename French Fries as "freedom fries" ... and the French couldn't give a damn. They simply don't care. If you question them about it they raise a quizzical eyebrow, shrug a shoulder, and move on to more important things. This, I think, is what drives people nuts. They don't care what you say about them, because (here it comes) ... you're no better than a child throwing a tantrum and you'll come around to their point-of-view in the end.


Well, I'm not going to say anything obvious about the rush to war in Iraq and everything that followed from that decision ... but you get the idea.


Is that annoying? Of course it's annoying!!! It's also annoying to be reminded that America would probably have lost the Revolutionary War if the French Navy hadn't boxed in Cornwallis at Yorktown. Did the French do that for Liberty and Justice? Of course not. Britain was their main European rival: my enemy's enemy is my friend.


Lafayette, we are here! said General John Pershing in 1917.

Lafayette would have laughed his socks off ... "Come in, come in!"

America couldn't give a damn about France, she came in for her own reasons.*


Same thing happened in the Second War. Until Pearl Harbor America had diplomatic relations -- an Embassy -- with Vichy France. There's plenty of room for cynicism on both sides. "Freedom Fries" my ass.


The French just continue to be French. I don't think they are trying to impress anyone, they just do it as a matter of course. One little vignette stands out in my mind. I was between trains at Lille Station in northern France last summer, on my way from Bruges in Belgium to Arras. I had an hour or two to kill (strange neck tattoos on the waitress, for example) and I couldn't help but notice various uniformed groups prowling through the station with automatic rifles and submachine guns. America is not the only country on Terror Alert. Two of these groups in different uniforms came together. In the UK or America they'd give macho little nods ... maybe half-contemptuous: our guys are better than you guys! ... but here at Lille Station each group hoicked their weapons onto their backs and each member of Group A solemnly shook hands with each member of Group B. It was like a snapshot. So weird. So typically French!


That doesn't describe it, I know. You just have to be there to see how naturally and totally French the French really are. You can't help but admire them.


All the best,



PS - I don't think Paris is all that dirty (try London!), nor are the Parisians particularly rude. They are quick and impatient like most Big-City dwellers and they hate foreigners mouthing bad French ... not the foreigners, per se, but the bad French. They can be extremely kind and helpful as I know from personal experience ... and my French leaves a great deal to be desired. Think of New York. People are bustly and busy but they will actually go out of their way to help you after the initial "Whaddyawant?" It helps when you are not trying to talk French to them ... works both ways, kids.



1. German "unlimited" submarine warfare from 1917, threatening US commerce.

2. The infamous "Zimmermann Telegram" promising southern US states to Mexico.

Edited by dedalus

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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1. German "unlimited" submarine warfare from 1917, threatening US commerce.

2. The infamous "Zimmermann Telegram" promising southern US states to Mexico.


And let's not forget the way Americans of that time were emotionally manipulated into supporting American involvement in that war -- by a "9/11" of that day: the sinking of the LUSITANIA. Wall Street bankers knew that if England lost the war it would default on its loans to them. How to convince Americans that their young people should go and die for bankers' money? Not possible. They had to machinate the sinking of a ship with "Americans on board" to stir up enough fervor and outrage in order to gain support.

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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