To A—

Wondering if
my trot to Paris
to suffer you
wasn’t all wrong.
My amour fou

precise as a shark
collecting scents
miles off,
exact as a saint
cowed before
invisible wings

abstract sheets?
Your eyes
green, and red
your hair,
iconic in this

television universe
of one man
let nothing on,
no “real” Twitter feed
surrendering candid
portraits of what

you believe,
what you love.
And I sit, subtracted,
before my love.

as I was
to plural echoes
nth parts sensual,
nth parts trust,
and to hear there
a call

to illegitimate Paris
where I fit
right in,
Jacques Brel songbook,
ukulele, bread
and wine, simulacral

maudit bohemian
pelted by Polanski-ish
rain, but happy
away from Los Angeles
where you fit in,
being able, in one city,

to drive for hours
and never leave home.
My choked voice grumbled
“de chrysanthèmes ...”
(Brel song) as
I sought the streets

of Apollinaire’s “Zone”
on Google maps
(which I paid dearly
still hearing the

even as
you were angry with me
who nearly destroyed
your apartment’s electricity
plugging in some idiotic
gadget of mine

and leaving it smoking
drunk on uke, bread and wine.
Hard not to think
this symbolic
or a great way to pep
up an episode

of Friends, or an ancient
Merchant Ivory film.
If I were Anne Carson
you’d be translation
and I
an impotent scholar

before the Greek,
drawn by love
to the undecided
omnivorous Word
that paints travelogue,
that shields Earth,

this word side with me
when I touch down in Paris,
that it’s you who’d
ground this polysemous

with a kiss, or touch
puppyish, unambiguous.
Oh, that Anne
Carson, such a genius.
She makes
me think.

I’ve never been
so wrong, and in
the wrong place,
a foreigner, foreigned
in my own goddamned

by double negation
fitting right
in (as I’ve
said) and you
a Mediterranean accent
amidst the stones

of French abstraction,
pride, often cruelty,
noirs désirs
circling like bats
who’ve read too much Saint-Just
and mistaken it for Sade.

(That sounds quite important.
I’m afraid it’s not.)
It rained. I wrote
a pining song
in a hotel room
refusing your offer

to stay with you
and your boyfriend
(quelle horreur)
who spoke no French
while I
conducted vertiginous conversations

with a curator
at the Musée Gustave Moreau
pinning my hopes
on words like “Gautier” (Théophile)
“Mallarmé” and “Rimbaud”
(who didn’t come up

of course),
and marred the language
even further with the help
of Google translate
in my letters to you
in the guise of, who?

it wasn’t Baudelaire
(I can’t remember who,
maybe Marat,
and you, Charlotte Corday).
I liked the pining song,
in the end,

it’s Morrissey-esque, funny
but grim, slippery
and only incomplete
without (or with) you.
Here I do not
go again,

merely think
on my horizon
my itchy head, I
think I have dandruff)

while you
in a Westwood Airbnb
lyrically, so
I am drawn

down Hollywood Blvd.
on the 302
to an American-style
with sliders instead
of funicular olives

again with you
and I gazing deep
into your colors,
reading your Tweets
but never commenting.

Such lovely olives.
It’s a beautiful evening.

More Poems by Brian Kim Stefans