A few hours before we left for Paris (we are here for a month), William Corbett's new book from Hanging Loose Press, Opening Day, came in the mail, so I stuck it in my carry-on bag. Our first full day here, we do something we like to do soon after we get off the plane and never again during a trip--walk out the Champs-Elysees from Concorde, sit in an overpriced cafe, and watch other tourists walk up and down in their brand-new Paris-bought outfits. Maisie napped in her stroller. I read Bill Corbett alternating with taking notes on fashions. All following poetry quotes are from Opening Day.
Fortune Cookie
Half moon over Fenway Park
over Vermont's sawtooth trees
one ear on the ballgame
open book on lap
moths lovetap the screen
the houses are empty
wine calms the jets,
mud settles; mind unclenches
unknots all who were here.
Living is hard: art easier!
Throw strikes! Walks always
come back to haunt you.

*Hippie patterns are big in tourist couture this season, bright and blotchy; often in chamois silk or crisp cotton, with high waists (hides the belly! but counterintuitively looks best on the waifish) and jagged handkerchiefy hemlines.
*Brooch in shape of cockroach.
The body is the soul too.
I want to be in shape
Like the women who do
For others but look after
Their trim selves.

from "Fellow Passenger"
*Dress with drawstring hem and bits of painted gravel hanging off the bodice.
*All red shoes have been bought this week.
...no thought of where to go
nor how I might get there.

from "The Party"
*The wife wears black and white diagonal stripes on a wraparound shirt; white linen pants; herringbone-pattern shoes with medium-low heels and a purple toe-bow. The husband is resolutely in clothes he brought with him--none of this foolishness--shorts, sandals, wide-brim canvas hat that reminds me of an NPR totebag to ?shield? him against the ?punishing? Paris May sun....
I will show you fear in a closed dry cleaners!
from "CUE"
...until he gets close--I overhear him say "I feel sorry for Hillary at this point"--and I see he's wearing a brand-new Universite de Paris sweatshirt. And he seems to have taken up smoking again--Gauloise, as in his semester abroad 35 years ago--still as fit today! "Well," she says, adjusting her diagonal stripes: "You can always vote McCain. But if Hillary doesn't win the primary I'm sitting this one out."
This rich man's city
set for lunch and dinner
foie gras, fruits de mer:
It is only meaningful to eat
and having eaten
a nameless discontent
old anxieties and
new anguishes do not fit.
Like a rapist
fighting through a thicket
police on your tail
you wake to March snow.
Or a dancer who no longer
likes his steps; walks
against the icy river wind
half-turned to back in.
Chairs up in restaurants
naked floors swabbed by aliens.

from "Isle of Manhattan"
*The French weekly magawine Marianne's cover story this week is a pictur of Nicolas Sarkozy with the words "Putain; 4 ans." Which I translate as "Four Whore Years:" Sarkozy's approval ratint is lower than Bush's.
*I count strings of under-shirt money pouches with adjustable knobs sticking out of necklines of new-bougth clothes: seven.
*Interesting jewelry may mean ( warning: sexist comment ahead!) the wearer is looking for a boyfriend:
"Interesting necklace..." he says:
"I bought it in the market in Istanbul," she says, meaning we can travel together.
...American corruption
is milk and crackers, is stainless
pipsqueaks--a self-satirizing
mouthful about which everything
that can be said has been said and is
being repeated, commented on, analyzed,
doctored, spun, ground and sifted,
sorted, graded, wrapped, packaged,
signe, sealed, delivered...

from "Backandforth"
seven crows up to their shoulders
in the meadow are beautiful.

13 pages later in "Backandforth"
*The guys sitting next to us are from Philadelphia too. We don't talk to them, we just can't help hearing them. "They kept passing me along, nobody wanted to fire me, until Joe had to fire me and even he didn't want to, he just reduced me to 20 hours a wek which meant there went my benefits...so here I am." The guys stop to look at a passing woman. Her teeshirt says "Fuck Hello Kitty."
On West Broadway
for Tom Raworth
Ahh, the girls
Of spring wherever they
Were all winter they've
Returned wearing cardigan
Sweaters or bare shoulders
Tattooed firm flesh gleaming.
They look good to me
Plums from the icebox
But one day Celtic Chinese
Flames will dry like prunes.
Life is like that
Licking honey, the Hungarians
Say, from a thorn.

Originally Published: May 14th, 2008

Daisy Fried is the author of Women's Poetry: Poems and Advice (2013), My Brother is Getting Arrested Again (2006) and She Didn’t Mean to Do It (2000), all from University of Pittsburgh Press. She was awarded the Editors' Prize for Feature Article from Poetry magazine in 2009.