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.

Paris & Montreux Jazz Festival 2012 320_1024
Moulin Rouge: Chevvy8

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!