I liked living in Paris when I was young because falling in and out of love was a lot easier. I liked the little hotel room that got crowded if the cat wanted to stay. I loafed about the café’s all day, read Shakespeare in book shops, making wishes and meeting lovers, and I was happy then though I thought I was unhappy. It seemed to me the sun would never go down in those days, and when it finally did, I’d sit in my hotel room until the lively hour and the neighbourhood bars lit up. That was a time. Every girl had big eyes. And a glass of red wine was the price of admission to a long night of being wanted.
Paris always offered a sense of swagger. It seemed like every back-street café would be a place you’d find Picasso kicking back to enjoy a charcuterie plate and a bottle of wine.
Today, the attraction is not the same. Café’s filled with internet hikers, three hours to drink a Latte, and no-one is holding hands. It just seems to me not everything is going okay in the world of high-speed communication. It takes but a moment to tell someone, some country, that hell, fire, and fury, will rain down upon them. Who would ever say such a thing when inside a lover’s arms? What’s next? Will we find a way to kill rainbows?
Is there anyone walks easily in the world these days?
When I left her yesterday, in the morning, I could still smell the scent of her on my shirt, not from intimacy but a goodbye hug. I travelled all day, flying, riding trains, even spent an hour in an uncomfortable cab, but still, a whole day later, I’m wearing that same shirt.
Anything that keeps her close.
Driving away from someone I love is never easy, there is no recollection as to what reason I gave for leaving that made any sense. Responsibility, I guess.
There are no simple answers on how to leave love.
If you don’t want to commit yourself to me, just say so. I confess that my existence lately only comes from loving you. Were it not so, I don’t know where my head would be. Come home soon.
Anyone who knows me would wonder how I could have done exactly that, hurt, created loneliness for another. Those who know me less would say, what did you expect?
I’m held up in the noon-time shadows under Sacré-Cœur, drinking coffee in a café with green wooden shutters. I look up, in private prayer. No one can kill rainbows though sometimes the world seems bent on trying.
At eighteen, wearing long hair, a T-shirt saying something like Remember Cannikin, I wrote poems on my shirt cuff, anything that would allow me to express myself in whichever way was right for me back then, so different from today, but less wise. I had some crazy idea it was flowing, emotional, talking about the unrestricted beauty of my life. Years later…my beauty left, singing in the wind… I would return, April or August, and so it was for years to come. These long years later it is worse for I know what it was as well as what it might have been.
If you don’t want to commit yourself to me, just say so.
All of us are falling, but hell, we never realize it until we land, heavy or soft. I’m not afraid of commitment, only loss; like saying the best part of sleeping is waking up.
I was always self-depraving, believing that no other kind of man could make a poet. If a piece of wood can become a violin, then surely this waste of time braggart can become a poet? In Paris, those many long years ago, I got paid for my poetry in beers and tears.
This dream of the poet I would make back when, many years back, in fact, I lived here in Paris with my friend, Leonard Leconte. I was a young lyricist, looking for a place to hang out. He offered me to stay with him in his small apartment. I was deficient by Parisian standards, separated from my family, not knowing which way, if any, was the way forward.
The thing about Leonard was that he didn’t just call himself a poet; he was unquestionably a poet. He lived his poetry. We shared a bathroom, but each had a study, and every day I aimed at writing down five hundred rhythms in my notebook before dragging them into the sidewalk cafés along the Champs Elysees, nestling up to beautiful women, those with elegance and poise, and asking, would it bore you too much to listen to samples of my work? Some shrugged me away, most in fact.
We were so full of ourselves. Leonard had something, you know; he had spirit, art, joy — I’m not sure what else to call it. Women who met him were enamored. We were inseparable back then. I didn’t know what it was, be it Paris, the Seine, the women, the artists, or the richness of the religion all around, but I loved it. Sometimes we would meet up with his friends in the evenings, have drinks, and listen to each other talk about our lives. It’s hard to tell exactly when my story began, maybe after an accident happened in the universe, or something unknown that radically upset the balance of one’s sense of self.
You see, Leonard was a beautiful man, but he was also a secret drug user, an alcoholic, and a man who couldn’t talk about his problems and only listen to those of his friends. He would go off into various dimensions of his existence, but looking back I can now say, with high certainty, he suffered brilliant moments of madness.
I remember how it was for me after Leonard’s death: exploring religion, life’s imperfections, the way forward. I compared every man I ever met with Leonard. Sometimes, I think I see him in the Mission area of San Francisco or wandering through the Tenderloin, for such were the kinds of places he would go when I wasn’t with him.
He believed in a day when all hearts would fall in love.
Leonard’s untimely death brought to my life a feeling from which I didn’t ever expect to recover. It wouldn’t be the last time death would break my spirit.
The life I’ve lived, I’ve lived with equal love and equal heart and never quite learned how to tell them apart. I’ve loved as well as one man can and to the best I can give. I get it that those loves who read my words will believe of me, there goes a man who tried.
It’s true that later in life I climbed into unknown beds and if it wasn’t always right, I told myself that love is the best I can give. There was a girl who loved me, and all night I held her body against me. I promised to show her Spain but by morning she had slipped away.
If you don’t want to commit yourself to me, just say so.
I can and do commit my heart to her.