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We had decided with Cocteau

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the difference between a cigarette holder
    and cigarette case,
the pleasure of a lorgnette over spectacles,
    of a fortnight over
two weeks, of a spiral over graduated stairs,
    of the frisson of crying
like pouty boys, and of the way to walk a lobster
    on a leash: drag it,
its exoskeleton rapping on the cobbles
    through the rabble
of Montparnasse, as if lugging luggage.
    We did what could not
gain us a week of rent or even a plate of fish,
    yet we managed to eat
sickening amounts, to hate on our patroness,
    the Princess de Polignac,
though, and I am sorry, she had bought us wine.
    Once, in the chamber
before an evening concert, I hid a sack of bees
    in the white baby grand,
and when ball-gowned Polignac raised the leaf
    they swarmed through the strings
to the chandelier and the Princess saw a living sun
    and felt a little less dreary
and a little less proud of being bored.

Source: Poetry (November 2010)

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

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We had decided with Cocteau

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  • Christopher Shannon was born in Beech Grove, Indiana in 1981. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he received a BA in English and Creative Writing as well as a minor in music, and the University of Florida, where he earned his MFA. His poems have appeared in 32 Poems and Denver Quarterly, and he has published reviews in the Germanic Review. He is the editor of the text-message poetry journal Cellpoems, which recently won an Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation. He is currently a Director of Marketing and Development at the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

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