Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Five Stunning Poems by Andre F. Peltier

 



Still Life w/ Locomotives

 

And in Paris,

there is the Musée d’Orsay.

Housing the world’s largest

collection of Impressionist art,

it opened in 1986 

and has been hailed

as one of the best

in the world.

The Beaux-Arts train station

on the Left Bank is, itself,

a masterpiece.

No longer do those locomotives

chug and puff,

no longer will we see

the smoke and steam

escape to the sky.

The engines, with their

legs open wide

and their faces

divorced from their bodies,

no longer lay in repose

along the river.

 

The trains would arrive

on schedule every day,

every hour.

Off to Marseilles, or Lyon

or Barcelona,

the trains would

chug chug chug

out of the station

with business men

and tourists and young American

women

looking for husbands

and truth.

Up to Calais,

they could almost see

the towering cliffs,

the towering bee hives.

The club cars crammed

with Londoners

ready to cross the channel

and settle back at home

with tea and drizzle

and eel pie.

 

From Dover,

those Blue Bloods would

bounce north,

never thinking of the future

or what would become

of their beloved Parisian nights.

They drank to the legs

and stockings in cabaret shadows.

They bought little Eiffel Towers

to give to their sons

upon return.

They passed under the

Arc de Triomphe

never casting a gaze

on the grave.

 

The first flame

to burn eternally

since the lights of the virgins

were extinguished so many

years before.

The Unknown Soldier

below the cobblestone paths,

naked without his

gas-mask or his L&B 8mm.

He lays on guard,

ready to rise from the grave

when the nation

should need him next.

When the nation should need

Protection from

invading hoards.

Did those American girls

visit Les Invalides?

Did they pay tribute to

Henri Bertrand?

He carried the corpse

back from St. Helena

but was overlooked by

those girls…

a better husband is surely out there

riding those rails,

walking those gardens,

drinking cognac and coffee.

 

In the halls:

Manet, Cézanne,

Gauguin.

Our celebrated masters.

Seurat’s Circus spins

as the gleaners glean.

The Source,

with longing eyes: starry and pure,

watches and wonders

as tourists wander

overwhelming walls.

When the Paris Commune

held sway,

d’Orsay was an exhibit too…

an exhibit of the here and

now.

 

Today, we enter and

look back with calm

nostalgia at the niceties

of history’s constant

chugga chugga chug.

 

 

Our Azure Earth

 

The conehead of Perga

measured, defined

the ellipse, the parabola,

the hyperbola. 

Apollonius of Perga,

as Eutocias of Ascalon tells us,

rose in the time of Ptolemy

to sit at the right hand

of Cybele.

With astrolabe at the ready,

our Pamphylian hero

awakened the senses

and sought the sun,

the stars, the answers

to Euclid and Archimedes.

His astrolabe

and its one thousand calculations

opened doors.

They fueled the rockets

and sent the Cosmonaut

Yuri Gagarin

spinning around

our azure Earth.

Yuri Gagarin looked

down from orbit

and shook hands with

Apollonius of Perga.

They shared the oxygen mask

and ate the liver-paste.

They squeezed it into each other’s

gaping mouths

and nodded as they passed

over Asia-Minor.

 

 

Upon Viewing The Diving Boy by Augusta Savage

 

With back curved

in prayer,

he stares down deep,

determined to plunge into the reality

of American Exceptionalism

& the American melody.

War-torn Europe

far removed

from his horizon.

He sees only cold Lenox Avenue

& rough waters

of the Abyssinian hymnal

night.

 

With hands clasped

in concentration,

the diving boy,

silent and alone,

prays for splashless entry

into whitecaps of

the North Florida coast.

So distant the reality

of Harlem

jazz ecstasy,

so distant

the noose

& tomorrow’s golden

dream.

 

 

Red Sky Mourning

 

Perseids at midnight

over amber sea of dunes.

The sleeping bear

awaits the arrival

of Manitou

drowning off the coast.

Fleeing the flames

of Wisconsin wilderness,

she arrived on the bluff

to await her drowning cubs.

She mourned her dead

through red skies

and blowing sands.

Blankets of time

held her warm,

wind after wind,

year after year.

So long,

the seagull takes

wing over the white pine,

the black cherry,

the hemlock.

The tap root of the

pitcher’s thistle

down through December

snow before it blooms and

dies.

 

We set course

from Ursa Minor

to Promontory Point.

Golden spike of history’s

delusion.

The cowcatchers,

the Jupiter and the 119,

were face to face

10 May 1869.

Champagne flowed

and the Chinese crews

threw their hats

in the air

as the spike was

delicately tapped

into the pre-bored hole.

Delicately tapped

into pre-bored laurel tie.

Delicately removed

and placed under glass in

California.

Delicately written about

as the first nail

in the coffin of

regional tribalism.

Here is the efflux of

mythology. 

Costal Sacramento to

costal Omaha,

sea to shining sea.

 

May God continue the

unity of our Country,

as this Railroad unites

the two great Oceans

of the world.”

 

Here is the flux capacitor.

Here we join past, present,

future.

Southern Cross meets

Cassiopeia, Draco, Cygnus.

Here one asks of

the Suez Crisis,

“Do I show weakness

to Nasser now?

Do I show weakness

to the new Mussolini?

I am but a well-dressed

fool.

I am but the efflux

of tom-foolery

made plain for all to see…

for all to lay eyes upon

and cast sultry glances towards.

Am I but the old

Shen Jiangao,

bringer of rain and wealth?”

Here is the crux of the matter.

When Perseids fly

and shooting stars fall

from on high,

the myth of the golden spike

flies too.

 

 

Bird of Paradise

 

Waters rise

upon the shoreline

while dried corals

wash ashore

and dried men

fall of thirst.

Waters rise

as worlds forget.

Grass huts flood

and drown.

Birds of paradise

take flight,

never again to

make berth.

 

“To sit alone

With my conscience

Will be judgement

Enough for me” ¹

 

Of planetary pursuits

and Death, the Leveler,

oceans crest

and fall in little known,

little acknowledged villages

of the South Pacific.

Death, the Revelator

will boil the headwaters

and boil the delta.

Death, the Revealer

will set our spirits free.

 

“Everybody needs

beauty as well as

bread” ²

 

Here comes

John 0’Mountains:

out of nowhere;

out of his head.

He’s humming

Ornithology

and he’s strumming

his four string.

Banjo of Africa.

Banjo of red Georgia dirt.

 

“I always listen to

what I can leave

out” ³

 

Miles away

and miles behind,

the long-necked goose,

and the humpty back

camel, and the

blue footed booby

toddle off the high cliffs

of Anapala

and the high cliffs

of Montanita.

Sea levels rise to meet

their downward tumble.

 

“Honesty

is the cruelest

game of all” 4

 

Deep inside

the man and myth.

Deep inside, he hides

from fame and fortune.

Deep inside,

he sees past,

present, and future.

He taught gods to

sing and set the

bird of paradise

loose upon the world.

 

 

1. Stubbs, Charles William.  A Minister in the Garden: A Causerie. 2nd ed. London: E. Stock, 1902.

2.  Muir, John. The Yosemite: The Original John Muir Text, 1902. Yolla Body Press, 1989.

3.  Davis, Miles. Quoted in Miles Davis:  Electric Explorations of Miles Davis 1976-1991. Paul Tingen, author.

                Billboard Books, 2001.

4.Van Ronk, Dave. Quoted in Baby Let Me Follow You Down: The Illustrated History of the Cambridge Folk Years.

Eric von Schmidt and Jim Rooney, eds. Cambridge University Press, 1994.

 



Andre F. Peltier is a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches literature and writing. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his family. His poetry has appeared in Big Whoopie Deal, In Parentheses, Griffel Magazine, Fahmidan Journal, The Write Launch, Spillover Mag, Open Work, and Tofu Ink, and an anthology from Quillkeepers Press and is forthcoming in various journals. In his free time, he obsesses about soccer and comic books.

 

 

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