No One Goes to Paris in August

By Clarence Major b. 1936 Clarence Major
A Montparnasse August
with view of the Cimetière. A yard of bones.

We wake to it. Close curtains to it.
Wake to its lanes. Rows of coffin-stones in varying light.

Walking here. Late with shade low, low, long.
We’re passing through, just passing through
neat aisles of gray mausoleums.

(From Paris. Send this postcard. This one.
Calm water lilies. Water lilies.
Nothing colorless.)

It’s morning. Baudelaire’s tomb.
Tree limbs casting shadow west.

This, a lot of time under a looming sky.
Nobody has time like this.
(Time to go to Le Mandarin for coffee
every day. We’re not complaining.
They bring the milk separate.
Watch the passersby on Saint-Germain.)

Nothing to ponder. This is the plight.
Pause by Pigeon in bed with his wife —
both fully dressed.

Pink flowers, pink flowers,
just beneath de Beauvoir’s name.
When she lived she lived two doors down.
Went south in August.

All of us smell of heat all the time.
We are the living. Oh dear!
There are the dead ones there.
Their thoughts more familiar, though.
Lives finished, nearly clear.
And they make it possible for us to go on living
as we do in their blue shade.

Clarence Major, "No One Goes to Paris in August" from Waiting for Sweet Betty. Copyright © 2002 by Clarence Major. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townshend, WA 98368-0271, coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Waiting for Sweet Betty (Copper Canyon Press, 2002)

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Poet Clarence Major b. 1936

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, Death, Activities, Travels & Journeys

 Clarence  Major

Biography

American writer Clarence Major "has been in the forefront of experimental poetry and prose," Eugene B. Redmond writes in Parnassus. "In prose he fits 'loosely' into a category with William Melvin Kelley and Ishmael Reed. But his influences and antecedents are not so easy to identify." Perhaps best known for his novels, Major draws on his experience as a Southern African-American to "[defy] the white-imposed 'traditions' of black . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Activities, Travels & Journeys

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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