la disparition

I challenge myself to write about you without sadness

without loss, without keening

instead, observing joys, even bite-sized beguilements

like the time you danced and all the things you’d said

about being a great dancer, were true

and everyone watched like you had broken out in flames

I wanted to go around saying “yeah, I’m her daughter.”

Perhaps in a cliched way you were the prototype

for all the women I admired afterward

they had to have your grace, knowledge and small shoulders

how you wore high-waisted pants like a Charlie’s Angel

curled the aserbic wit of your interstellar mind like wreaths of smoke

I didn’t feel I could compare, with my ordinariness, unlovely

how bland my straight hair and white knees

to your brown arms draped in gold and the sheen of your afro

you bought me my first perfume at 12 and a little compact with

lipgloss & that weird shiny eye cream everyone wore back then

it looked a fright with my blanche complexion just as

your comb didn’t get through my tangles and my brush

snarled your varnished ringlets

I could only grow onions in my window, it let in so little light

whilst you faced the sun and had avocados and bay

you showered whilst I bathed, the slow dissipation of people

in that we were always separate, clashing before learning

to describe estrangement & nostalgia when we ought

to have embraced and eaten crepes with chicory & coffee syrup

I remember you wearing a t-shirt as a dress

with a lamé belt and Souliers Adige sling-back heels

how you’d walk into a room, all 5’3 of you and knock em dead

big things come in little parcels that’s true

playing the piano under the stars at the Lamonts

“les Shadoks” in the background, kids shrieking

in OshKosh, drooling Pommac, half-enraptured by

your profonde vocals like you’d chewed on cigars

cooking Kamounia or Potatoes Dauphinoise

the flick of your wrists, a hundred herbs like poison rings

grown men would cry over your food like it

opened gateways to heaven, glugging Chateau Lafront-Rochet

they’d stare at you like no man has ever stared at me

and rightly so; transported gypsy, jet locket against your clavicle

roaming in terraced houses like a lost treasure, too exotic

for suburbia or even Paris, les yeux en amande, you left a trail of admirers

including me, when you ran off to the bright lights

never looked back, trailing lipstick on ironed handkerchiefs

that smelt of cumin and frangipani, your 30 franc, copy of Rue des boutiques obscures

pressed flat under a wooden box of turkish cigarettes

little marzipan figurines wilted in Summer

when you sent postcards in your bold cursive script

I traced the hearts like tattoos and sniffed the edges

of your hand-me-downs, like by smelling you close

you were accessible, out-of-time, like saying une vedette in the 90’s made no sense

a girl speeding down roads in a silver Porche

a woman commanding others in Moroccan pants and certitude

the remnants like kilim rug whispers at the end of a record

when all you think you hear … is static

I’d read the books you’d read thinking

maybe I’d grow up to inherit your smarts

or the polyglot tendencies of your desegregated genes

speaking different languages in a multitude of countries

you said I shouldn’t try to emulate but it was hard

we look piercingly into shadows when our eyesight is poor

I listened to your music and traced the window ledges

where you contemplated jumping, as you chain smoked

watching drab rhododendrons fill the air with cat piss

the neighboring woman hanging underwear on a sagging line

the color of cold tea

I knew even then

like the burgundy roof top foxes

you’d been priming to leap

and I couldn’t blame you a bit

you remind me even now

of a velvet collar

worn only to fancy events

if lucky enough

to be invited

little pearls sewn in a semi-circle

when around your neck

they shiver

as if still urging to return

to the sea

New girl

A broken bottle

a discarded hairbrush

totems within totems

effigies of past and present

a light knock on the door

she’s wearing a French halter dress

her ankles are slim like my mother’s

she’s not my mother

her skin is brown like my mother’s

she’s not my mother

her black hair is curled like my mother’s

she’s not my mother

her perfume speaks of wanting passion

it belies the faux expression on her face

attempting trickery

she bends to me and pretends to be enchanted

by childhood photos

they are not her photos to touch

with her careful, manicured pink nails

a color my mother always hated

she had more style in her little finger

the one with dupuytren’s contracture

more a question mark than deformity

it didn’t stop her playing the piano

carving her place in my father’s heart

and this imposter? Flicking her way into our life

like a cheap fan you buy, because you are sweating

I want to tell her, using grown up words

I may be six, but I know what she’s up to

with her shifting glances toward my handsome father

with her endearing crossing of espadrilled feet

if she touches my mother’s hairbrush

I will burn

this happy house down

Not a lot

Some of the forgotten towns

circling big cities, lone wolves

warming fur against bright lights

wear their bleakness like a flag

the emptied streets at night where

no merriment is found, kids have

climbed aboard their bikes and motored

through snow if necessary, to escape

into the cold clutches of wine and euro-pop.

The touring people who do not live in these towns

glamorize by proxy

their little steeples, the preserve of history

how charming graffiti looks in a foreign language

they do not see behind the doors

into a teen world of preparedness

all who will flee when time comes

somehow, make their empty pocketed way

to bigger cities, offering the solace of

24 hour misery

surely it beats

sleeping in your childhood cot

listening to your parents snore

inching closer to a local grave plot

they put their heads in bags of glue

just to feel like they are from somewhere else

finding it a marvelous irony

when their frigid mountain town is named

‘best hidden tourist spot’

by those who are also in their own ways

trying to escape

their stifled lot

Immutabilité – Candice Louisa Daquin — FREE VERSE REVOLUTION

In the afterlife There is always something to do pick up the leaning umbrella before it hits the window, leaving a tell tale smudge clutter. Le désordre le bruit, le fatras, a manic for the mind seeking calm in Upton’s Jungle where only heat bakes rocks inedible cushions flattened by visitations, last nights vestige reminds […]

Immutabilité – Candice Louisa Daquin — FREE VERSE REVOLUTION

Want & Ritual

Helmut-SPREAD-6FI grew up fetishizing

the nubile antonyms of beauty

Helmut Newton’s exploitation

penis behind camera stroking

sloe-eyed girls with tired mouths

smoking yellow papered Gauloises

nipples grazing peach crinoline

men’s eyes like dry stones, seeking squeezing

I grew up thinking

contortion and bondage was

an art form not

excuse for masochism

as unsupervised child, I’d look through

graphic design manuals

that inexplicably had vulvas and

perky breasts

to illustrate Pantone

it was after all

the seventies

what did I know? Except

women on beaches without tops

giving me francs for not spilling their dirty martini’s

Mon sucre d’orge, sois gentil, va me chercher mes cigarettes

always gentleman watching

the rise and fall of female throats

nicotine mouths, stained vermillion

long tan legs swept beneath chiffon

men taking them to hotel rooms

children

smoking the leftovers whilst adults

fucked behind closed doors

wondering

when I grow up

how can I lie beneath

a girl whose sweat glistens

like marzipan

and if she should

sip on me I think I’d scream

all my silver bracelets falling off

like metal flowers on hotel carpet

after all

life is a film

where we tie ourselves up

with want and ritual

She told me, don’t worry about it

We’re sitting talking about how we know

You’re making me laugh at jokes, about Hannibal

How I only like Gillian, because she’s a bit like you

And I can’t tell anyone, including you

You reminded me how I knew, I was still alive

In the video of you dancing, uncaring and wild

That’s how I’m reminded why

I know beauty

How women

Are the possessors of

All that is beautiful

With your downcast eyes, the color of absinthe

Hair falling in your pale face, cut cheekbones and grace

The switch of your merciless, marching intelligence

The sorrow, the humor, the passion lines

How you make me laugh hysterically and blush

Pouting, pulling on your cigarette, getting me aroused and nervous

Without trying, you command all attention

Your wit is sharper than a sword

When you didn’t talk to me

It was like a blonde flower, turning her lights out

The night was darker

Still I heard

That song you made immortal

The sway of your slim hips and secret smile

And I’m speaking to you in a language, I outlawed

Because he dirtied it for me, forever

But you sound so lovely talking in the fog

I know I have to stand at a distance, or I’d reach out

Grab the concentration from your lovely brow

But to be in your blazing aura

The tiny, angry, intelligent, firey soul

You inhabit like no other

You were the girl who woke me up

I’d give anything to dance with you

To that exact song, in those same clothes

Your then blonde hair, a chaotic wisp

The crunched concentration on your francophone face

There’s classic and there’s disheveled-perfect and you’re both

I’d take your hand and say

Don’t worry, I know the rules

But for fucks sake we’ve both been here long enough

born the same year

You got the small chest I always wanted

And you said you liked my eyes

Same color green as yours

Not narcissism

But sisters

Lovers of

Pain and hard living

We only trust those like us

Who smoked and drank and have to show on our tired faces, the weariness of living

Where boundaries are never crossed

But fantasy is free and inked

And you like being adored

I am good at loving

Sad, happy, gorgeous girls, with crooked smiles

Who hold my attention with their spark

Catching in the darkness like a skinned rock, thrown out to sea

On Brighton beach

Where we’ll always be young and beautiful

Me chasing you in the cold sea

You disappearing into green waves

Paris is for lovers

There are many kinds of travelers

one who promotes the art of transience

with ejubulent smiling photos atop picturesque vitas, repleat with apeing friends

sleeps undisturbed by change, in the marvel of perpetual motion

one who never travels

but hastens to add, everyone must

and enjoy it they should

for all they cannot understand, they bundle

in wistfulness and naivity

like a child imagining adulthood

the last traveler is uneasy

feeling a sorrow in changing places

the witness of other lives and roads

since earliest memory the yoke of

vacation was not to be appreciated but mourned

their comfort found in staying still

than the kalidoscope of others spin

demanding constancy and things, unable to be bequeathed

where disturbance comes, in the form of expectation

sorrow of coach stations and midway stops

grief striken as graves and road trips without gasoline

you are said to be fortunate, if you can travel often

the grateful traveler may forget

the gritty loneliness of their highway bed

never admitting they wished to return, even before they set off

belonging is a feeling, some will never attain

their search in crowds of strangers, leaves further lost than claimed

Yet no one

No one at all

Will ever admit

To being loathe to travel

Anticipating wonder

I’m on the bus in Mont-Dauphin

young sunburned boys are looking at sunburned girls

with low cut tops and tan marks on their thighs

taking the overnight Intercités train

where sleep is found in drizzling dots of lights and darkness

interspersed with wolves

Perpignan, Marquixanes, no stop beckons

but memories pile, like popping candy

fizzes in your mouth just long enough

to remind you how you once felt

in your own brand of youth

dirty and wide-eyed from the road

anticipating wonder

Full circle

Princess

My neighbors and I played down by the two deep ponds, circled by hedges

warnings unheeded, crashing through nettles into leach infested waters

our Gallic faces screaming in delight at frog spawn and plump lily pads

one sister, a redhead with gap-tooth grin, the other darker, like late season honey

who knew then? Among the crags of the Pyrénées-Orientales, with their Catalan tongues

we’d split and divide like wheat, losing touch, floundering each, to find our way

as kids, our favorite game was building tepees, wearing feathered headdresses

many years later, sitting in a park in Ontario, I met an Ojibwe mistreated by the state

we sat beneath banners and he told me his Algonquian speaking father was full blood

how his people killed their Inuit neighbors and lost their totem in broken alliances

from this he said, they learned, honesty is the only worth a man possesses

his mother was a French migrant, from Perpignan, on the Spanish border

the very same town I first learned to dance, to make it rain, or so I pretended

I wondered, if somehow fate had flung herself in strange arrowed pathways

all leading back to tepees and kind men, who felt mercy without recompense

since I left and became an immigrant, the gentlest souls I have met, carried

Native American blood in their full cheeks and mercy in their hearts

reminding me of daubing my own face with white stripes and how

we never had cowboys or guns in our games, just long striped feathers

and the goodness of children.

 

(For B, Mark, Jean, Crystal, Lane & Jack, who carry the blood and make it count).