Day 12 Poet’s Billow Challenge: In light and shadow

Today’s challenge is to be a Flâneur! As Bijan Stephen writes on the Paris Review blog:

“The figure of the flâneur—the stroller, the passionate wanderer emblematic of nineteenth-century French literary culture—has always been essentially timeless; he removes himself from the world while he stands astride its heart…the flâneur heralded an incisive analysis of modernity, perhaps because of his connotations: “[the flâneur] was a figure of the modern artist-poet, a figure keenly aware of the bustle of modern life, an amateur detective and investigator of the city, but also a sign of the alienation of the city and of capitalism,” as a2004 article in the American Historical Review put it.

What is this despairing, despondence choking my heart?

Turning it into a block of stone, a magnetic force-field

that draws me through narrow, forlorn streets of Paris,

a place I call home, but increasingly feel I don’t belong.

Like a tourist, I wander through the streets at night

sometimes, at anytime of the day – when I feel restless,

Longing for the wonder I see in their eyes, now lost to me!

A city of my birth in which I no longer feel wild and free.

Standing beneath an arcane lamp post across the street,

I light up another cigarette and watch the snaked queue

outside the Moulin Rouge. It’s eleven o’clock, a bustling night.

The snake slithers and curves around shops, decrepit and sleazy.

There is an air of marvel, mixed with impatience as foreigners meet.

I hear the American voices above the din, bold bitching, words

about poor service followed by explosive laughter, contrary to

the lilting pitch of locals’ exchanged greetings, Bonjour, ça va?

I take my place in the queue, snaking my way to the entrance,

In tow,up the stairs of red carpet opulence, duping these visitors!

The casino-style ambience, black-clothed tables, champagne on ice,

a splendid show, well worth the price for the captivated audience.

After the show, resuming my place, beneath a shadowed lamplight,

watching the dispersing champagne crowd, voices ever so loud,

delaying returning to my narrow abode in its narrow cobbled street,

watching the city’s light and its shadow, a return of lonely discontent!

Stubbing my cigarette, I sigh: the mirror has two faces, c’est la vie!

8 thoughts on “Day 12 Poet’s Billow Challenge: In light and shadow

  1. An interesting perspective, in the middle of the action but not part of it. Well illustrated by your apt descriptions! “A place I call home, but increasingly feel I don’t belong” jumped out at me. Often the way I feel about the USA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joan. I must put a disclaimer that I used some poetic licence. I think it was also a reflection on the fact that visitors to a country only see the good side and may never notice the dark side of that city – they only get to see the good stuff. A citizen can easily feel alienated from their own country. Thanks for reading and your comment. Best. Chevvy

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Brian. This piece reminds me of your posts which always offer interesting commentaries on life. I had stood in that queue as a tourist and it was interested to take on the persona of a disenchanted Parisiene 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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