RELIGION & AUSTIN

deyellow rome

małgorzata szumowska

on Caroline’s summer roof

“what’s your opinion on getting hella fucked tonight”

two weeks is nothing

a Georgia O’Keefe print hung over your elementary years, he thought

it must be a snake, that’s it

his sisters giggled

cheers our cigarettes and i’ll see you in London

there

outside the Lamb you’ll say hush, all poems are about love in the end

DRINKING WINE (MY FIRST LEGAL ALCOHOL PURCHASE)

over Greenland comma Earth

an average planet in

an average solar system

the clouds break just at the eastern shore

and resume just past it

revealing an island i’ve only known

as the one that isn’t near as big as it looks on flat maps

(look at the globe

draw the continents on an orange

peel it

lay it flat

on a table)

truly a citizen of the world


they are clouds like any other

so different from any other

(YOU HAD A RAZOR SCOOTER IT WAS RED AND YOU GOT IT) FOR CHRISTMAS

to match your red flats

the light must hit you differently very early in the morning

because the first time i saw you in the lobby of our building

your quilted shoes hadn’t given you giant popping blisters yet

in this two ham sandwich light your nose is made of glass and maybe glowing

but i’m looking away from it so i can’t go into detail

the closest you’ve been to a date is saying no to somebody asking

but i’m confused because the first time i saw light on your face

you acted like you were used to that kind of attention


yes, in the rain

i’m telling you the kind of rain i walk all the way home in

and still don’t get completely wet

some of both of us is imagining us here ninety years ago with our idols

if neither of us have anything to talk about we talk about

the black poles between us and the road and the car brands we haven’t seen before

the word they taught us in high school for bathroom is wrong

today started the same as every day, we woke up and it was like pepper

you don’t care for any city when it’s raining because you’re from Texas

by lunchtime blue suddenly we make our way to the top of the hill


meet at 6:30

the store i know best in all of Paris i go to for the first time with you

but you don’t want to buy their signature 1€ red shopping bags

you ask me to help you pick out a wine, i suggest a rosé

a week later i find out it takes you a week to finish it off

the first time us and everyone else go out to get drunk

is my twentyfirst birthday at a bar on a roof

we claim the empty corner between the bathroom and the elevator

after that you won’t shut up about how you took the stairs


i don’t even think you are a real person till you tell me

“i can’t get drunk every night of the week”

because you’re tired of everyone speaking french

but the truth is i’m tired of all the things you’re tired of

so from now on the you in the poems is someone else


two swans swimming in the Seine

and two workers breaking to feed them

DARKGOLDENROD GOLDGLOW

at a bodega (not called that here

what they are called’s ‘           ’)

take a photo pay 5€

put it on the sticky part of my navigo

never mess with tiny tickets

switch phone numbers in the metro

the espressos come with itty biscuits

spend most of time at the window

wondering why Earth so selfishly

rotates with its atmosphere

it seems so foolish to describe the sunset

on the roofs because i want to keep that to myself

but here goes

do you remember how you

felt when you were 9 and your dad

made it seem like only your older brother

was getting a gameboy but you got one too?

grayblue yellow gold orangesherbert pink

purple bluegray, like the sunset from Glyfada

the

ears ring with the crinkling of a filterless Camus

kill the last centimeter in the teatray ashtray

window open watch the roofs taste the tobacco

there’s your friend leaning out of her window

crack a frown be excessively polite

and forget what time you fall asleep tonight

YOUR NAME IN ALL CAPS

pink and blue lit face

blue from one side

pink from the other

orange against a wall lit yellow/white

you’re in the corner of the frame

probably dialogue


“your motherfucking voice is too distracting”

“space is the long way to Mexico”


yellow face on a blue white wall

phone spilling on the floor in the Louvre


“yes i like your shoes i’ll tell you a third time”

“i’ve got a Yankees cap just like that one”

BULLET TRAIN ACROSS A COUNTRY I’VE NEVER SEEN

under a sky i’ve known for three weeks

the clouds hang low low in the morning

over striped farms and roads the bullet train

cuts through over 200 mph four panes of window

a pixellated sun rises through bushes and fences

pass through Le Mans take two pictures of signs that say Le Mans

because once a year here there are no speed limits

in the seat next to mine you can hear tennis coming out of my headphones

when my head falls onto your shoulder you take a picture of us

when you wake me you hit me a little too hard


classical in the west is parallel windows symmetrical with iron balconies

and one golden retriever older sleepier more relaxed

here men carrying little girls ask for money in the street (désolé)

the balconies too are centered and get longer toward the bottom wedding cake

the facade in this way gains a triangle

one point each for liberté égalité fraternité

the last part i made up but they chant is as much as we chant in god we trust so it could be


when we’re on the metro and our friends are all in bed

the guitarplayer knows most of the english words

to knock knock knockin on heaven’s door and let it be let it be

the face i give you is the same face i’d give me

if we were at the same party all night in Park Slope

and this was the early F-train into the city with all the commuters

SMOOTH LEMON ACIDIC TASTE

rose spearmint aftertaste (poor aftertaste)


moscato

sprite


if i didn’t need a reason to come back

i’d get up with the sun and walk all day


wine cheese coffee bread


Paris on every street

the Mystery Gang outside a spitting toilet


this must be the place


the east


leather cured meat chocolate taste

salt honey spice aftertaste

THE WATER LOOKS LIKE METAL

every country has a bird that wants a part of your lunch

they are seagulls here too

i watched one fly in circles over the pool at Versailles

against the green green trees so late in the year

i have never seen a garden as big as this but you have

i consider the pilots of the planes flying low over us

whether or not they’re learning to fly all those laps around the pattern

like the schoolboys in the water learning to row crew

all i know about you is you aren’t thinking about that

or the funny tshirt you passed out next to last night

i’ll sink a wine bottle in this pool when i come here again

THE WATER HERE LOOKS LIKE METAL you say

it really does


i can hear the captain of that 757

telling his passengers that out the window to the left

“that’s the garden of Versailles ladies and gentlemen

if you squint that’s the photographer Vera and the poet Austin”

in the bright 14:00 light three boats we rent later cross and become one

“hold this apple i want to take your picture with it”

“what badges do you think french scouts can get”

“do you want to wear my blanket around your shoulders”

“are you gonna eat the half of your baguette you dropped”


at the end of our picnic a striped shirt rows his girlfriend backwards

past us again rewinding the tape of the last hour

picture knitting needles working furiously in reverse

unconstructing the green and the gray and the steel

that surrounds us and Bianca and the photos you already took of me today


tomorrow is monday this week it’s thursday

i have a friend visiting we’ll all meet him

and we’ll sit discuss our internet passwords

and we’ll all think of a good bar to go to

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR SOMEPLACE CHEAP

appartement à louer

une belle vue de la Seine

c’est une tente

assez bruyant

BUT I DID HAVE A GOOD TIME

i don’t recommend getting drunk in a museum

but we did have a good time


even at the Tate, where at least for him the

room of rothkoes would be very calming


“soon enough you’ll be looking at the ocean

from a plane and not drowning in it”


soviet subway stations

they’re above ground

no tracks

no trains

it’s not coming


we take separate routes and run into each

other occasionally


a good time me pointing out

Fountain, Marcel Duchamp


please don’t look at the moon at 8 pm

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant


i’ll take another gin & tonic

“we weren’t drunk in the Tate


we were drunk in the National Gallery”

my mistake


Leonardo da Vinci, The Virgin on the Rocks

i’ll take my gin and tonic on the rocks


please there’s no reason for my feet

to hurt me so much fun


is that a chuck close? no

do i look like benebizzle cumberbiscuit? no


Van Gogh associated the color yellow

with hope and friendship, Two Crabs

I WAS IN EXACTLY THE SAME PLACE THE LAST TIME I WENT TO THE OPERA IN HER POCKET

they clap forever and ever

the boxes are old with mirrors and coatracks

a bell rings until every one is sitting down again and then the fake curtain goes up and we start

under the picassoesque ceiling


the walls are light lemon yellow here

we will soon no longer have secrets from you


on the coast when we went it was supposed to rain

it didn’t rain and instead it was beautiful

all the alleyways open under arches toward la mer et la bonne mère


“you can’t raise someone different than you”

- Cyril, bartender, Marseille


dead face morning

the face of the sea the roman road the red roofs and you

this boat will drop us off in Africa and pick up a boatload of migrants

that’s not funny


far enough off shore the waves are a little bigger

the wind blows spray off the caps of them behind us

but then wind always blows the spray off the caps of the surf

if anyone feels a bit sick they should sit outside you do come sit outside


can you ask if i can smoke a cigarette

and what good is a boat without a cigarette


mossy vertebrates of a long deceased sea monster

two old women like children rode a bike to the port

who are the tourists not avoiding touristy areas i only know the formers


i am nearest to loving you inside big churches

a culture where the most beautiful buildings are built

to gods and most are open to the public free


and i am nearest to loving you when we are in a church together in Marseille

and you are praying but you aren’t religious


i leave before the third act of the ballet

gutters in the middle of the street

MARSEILLE

no matter when i come here

the sun is the same on the sea

it’s always evening the weather sublime

tour busses swinging alarmingly far off the edge

of the coastal highway

the basilica will never be torn down

even if the cathedral is and the museum to the european man is

the haitian restaurant will always be run by its owner

who went across the street to the market

to get us three cold bottles of beer

and you

jumping with both of your feet off the edge of the curb

your knees on the ground inside the church

smoking a cigarette in the middle of lunch

you will

always be here if i am, drinking Heinekens

smoking Marlboro golds, and admiring

the shepherd who lives on the rock in the sea

CHEERS TO OUR RAPIDLY DECLINING HEALTH

and other good things like how often you think about

the someone else on the other end of a wrong number


in my native language the word for home and the word for tomb

are the same not as often as you’d think


she suggested i skinny dip for the first time in a cold river

i told her i don’t even swim unless it’s going to be luxurious


when we were younger we were more afraid of asking adults for things

she stayed in a hotel in Indiana only had one bed in the room


in the morning they asked if anything was wrong with the room

and she and her sister said ya! there was bed missing


she said o ya! these people broke into the room in the middle of the night

and took the bed i guess they needed it more than we did


in her youth she ran around chasing boys on motorcycles

the truth is now we would just ask for another room


the good parts about visiting her there was the street it was on and the burritos

do you have that in english? you’ve got to turn milk into stone


take the train all the way to the end at Place d’Italie and transfer

never arrive early enough to hear the church bells


two cities divided by rivers i’ll see you again in New York

right outside the library she claims she has to go right back in

WE WERE THE ONLY TWO IN THE METRO WHEN IT STOPPED

“what’s that book you’re reading?”

“it’s about all the men who died in the war”

switching voice overs one in french

tellall interview testimonial feel

nonfiction feel

a delicious beer in an even bigger glass

“foreign countries make me feel weird like

afternoon naps”

“try to imagine how that makes me feel”

did you ever see Cléo de 5 à 7?

this scene is a direct allusion to it

they’re walking around Parc Montsouris

and she’s falling in love with a soldier

“that pigeon has no arms i was just looking

at that pigeon and thinking it looks funny

because it has no arms”

she likes his sense of humor but

has no idea where it could come from

pov shots for visiting places, looking at the

place and then at the girl (each other)

“one of the funniest phrases in the

english language is ‘adult children’”

“i was thinking i’d just stay in tonight”

she didn’t tell him about all her solitary

walks in the cemetery because

she didn’t want him to think

she was crazy, and at the end he says

“i think we’re

gonna have kids together twins one of

them named Huck but we aren’t gonna be

married but we’ll be friends”

she likes that he says it but disagrees


likes to be alone

METRO POEM

i see a girl on the train i’ve seen before

and i don’t say anything because i don’t speak

i walk to the end of the platform at Réaumur Sebastopol because i want to be in the last car

it is weird to think that earlier i was on the other side of this platform

both cities have morning dailies but i never read them

french people all dress like french people

République is Union Square don’t tell me otherwise guy

you’re going to lose your eyes in the back of your head if you keep doing that

how many lines did i leave at Temple none you can’t transfer at Temple

4/5 UNDER YOUR FEET

in this world now there is a little less

of you even less of you than i knew


your bed made each morning before you leave

no shoes—no clothes that touched a train seat


empty bottles of Roudène Fitou before the sun sinks

please rinse out the glass before returning it back to me


walk you all the way to the bank from Tuileries

admire the victories of Louis XIV


a couple pieces of chocolate before bed

you like me coming home cigarettes on my breath


truth is thanks to you we finally stopped

drinking our wine straight out of the bottle


rocky oats little apples the carpet on the ceiling

you invented fire but you didn’t invent it for me

WHEN THE LADY FELL FROM THE BIKE WE SAW HER GET UP

it’s warm in a cool way

amsterdammers must go o ya tourists

they always are telling us how great it is

day we leave entering the basilica

i step into the path of a vespa

verto burrito and away it goes

i used to have a phone without a front

facing camera and whenever people asked

for a pic of me i could not like

i’d have to turn it around

LEX IS FUNNY IN AMSTERDAM

raw busted ass meat throat

pickle herring sandwiches

small cups of coffee

thanksgiving under a couple sweaters

ten bread men and ten bread

women an army raised against

the hazards here beneath

a light coat the right climate

of beauty and danger risk

where the temperature is perfect

like polynesians


following

birds

THE MEMORY OF EACH PERSON

fatigue

hunger

the line about getting tattoos

the more subtle line where i say

glad you’re here but i never say

where to eat

reveals indecision on my part as i read the menu anyway

get hungry because of it

then state the motto about no building

impressing us anymore

how it sharpens the senses

write characters the same as me

with appetite and weariness

lying to his fiance about skipping lunch

because she doesn’t know how much

he doesn’t want to go


the heightened sense in how i

describe the rembrandt and the vermeer

hall and the people in it and the napkins

and all the extra stuff i have to think about

because i’ve been on this trip before


fatigue → hunger → seeing everyone’s

face


much about what i find delightful about

Paris is where i can go and not being

here


reveal i was too drunk reveal

i didn’t rest last night at all

IN LIGHT OF EVERYTHING

when we sat by the Seine and talked about our cats

when you’re daydreaming of a new way to draw

cursive characters i ordered a poetry book and it

never came and i called them and told them it never

came they said sorry we ran out. . .we can give you a refund


i keep lighting four candles when one goes out i

replace it with another i want it to rain once like a

real downpour they’re the small candles everywhere

right now the only candles in the market that was

open sunday they’re supposed to last for four hours


and Brendan came over and helped me to light them

acted like it was nothing


« eux ils ont des pistolets, nous on a des fleurs »


helping an old french man with his ticket for the metro

hands up all of you that miss a metro that doesn’t close at night


when Colt shot his banana gun at the old man in

Marseille and we heard it hit him and saw him stumble


my advice? put on a familiar song

and take a shower in the dark

return to that apartment

to the first time you heard that song

tell me her name again?

her room smelled like weed

when her roommate came home

you came back to our apartment

i don’t think about it too much


“fortyeight hours after this is over they’re still out there talking

about gun control measures”

- Marc O’Rubio


“the air the stumbling quiet of breathing”

- Frank O’Hara


i’ve never been on a tuesday city street and known

what was on the mind of everybody else


we’re buddies on aim


tomorrow at work my mom loves me i find out six months later

is packing books into boxes insulated with crying


it’s not the cigarette causing your cancer, it’s your art


what does Kenny Ortega look like


i won’t give a dime to a homeless man

but i’ll drop 1€ over my left shoulder into a fountain

for no apparent reason


then? take a cigarette

and a beer to the window

it’s ok to look

melancholy if you feel

that way every time

we do this you hang out

way over my iron balcony

we’re watching the red of the cigarette

go fall asleep before we can

THE FINALE

the sequence of love and convincing

oneself of love

you never have to go to the dentist for that

IT USED TO BE ALL THE TIME

we’d go out for brunch on sunday cheers

a pitcher of mojito and settle our plans for the day


the line between charm and insanity

of an old homeless italian man in the latin quarter

who’s french is even worse than ours


watching tv all morning wednesday a holiday

preparing an elaborate meal of pasta and bolognese

eating it quickly leaving the dishes to the sink


although sometimes rain sucks


maybe because i’m already drunk

it was our day off ok hush

it’s 2 pm here i’m still in bed

but i have therapy at 4

so i can’t be in bed forever


“i can’t wait to land at sfo and get a

good coffee and smoke a cigarette

a good iced coffee black as fuck

and smoke a cigarette dope as fuck

it’ll be one of these [Gauloises brun]”


now it’s weekends and tuesdays and a few afternoons

and every time i see the moon in the city it’s new


then i am and then you will


you on the train i bet your nose twitches

when you talk like Mary-Louise Parker


today the maid came asking if she could

cut off a piece of my soap from Marseille

i let her have it and so i finally got pillowcases


get drunk and get emotional

don’t you want to see it

go downstairs and try to order a crêpe

the way they wrote it on the menu isn’t

how you’re supposed to say it


late obsession with the two greyhounds

walked around the park by their butler

one of my poems is Lana Del Rey

over a Red Bull bmx video


going back to America is going to be fine

and it is alright not to be elsewhere


mister heavenly mister heavenly

MURMURATION

they copy the movements of other birds around them at 90 mph

none of them wants to be first to land

i watch them in Piazza Navona

i feel like i’m there alone

at 5:30 pm on a saturday there are only two people who have had dinner

they are me and my sister


the stereotypical image of the invisible father

between two siblings, so many years later


it was hard to walk more than a few yards without accidentally buying more cheese

i was in one giftshop making my sister buy something to remember her trip

i saw a fountain pen you might like because i remembered you’re into calligraphy


that stubborn desire of beautiful people to forgive their enemies


“let’s go where all the old people tours go”

“give me 5€ so we can play soccer on clay”

AT THE L’ORANGERIE

i involve myself with you

as i involve myself with Monet’s lilies

unsuccessfully

the perspective seems wrong

too upright

maybe if i’d gone to Giverny it would be different


Hemingway discovers Cezanne in the Musée Luxembourg where Cezanne discovered his masters, where i discovered

Montparnasse


Maurice Utrillo, Notre Dame


Chaïm Soutine, Le Bœuf

SHORT TRAVEL POEM

on the Saint-Michel RER platform


« excusez-moi monsieur

excusez-moi

il va à l’Orsay? »

« oui »



in the museum


Degas

me

the clock window

what used to be a train station

the river

the seagull flying above it

the people walking

the bicyclist

the road

taxis and cars

all those people in them

my favorite garden

full of statuary

full of movement

the road

the cars

the people

their apartments

bookshelves

dinner tables

all those titles

the city

the hill

the church on top

tourists dodging friendship bracelets

looking this way

looking back

the city

the tour

the churches

the people in them.