The Paris Commune
(Inspired by Maximillien Luce’s A Street in Paris)
I. A Paris Street (27 May 1871)
On another day of smoke-sick pigeons,
she knew roads were lines of power
made into roads. She knew roads must,
at times, be blockaded, while one
stands perpendicular to flying bullets.
Then abruptly, a force knocks
the glasses from her eyes. A sudden,
sharp pain steals the day’s adrenaline.
Everything becomes a mistake, everyone
becomes a stranger rather than
enemy or friend. She forgets the mission
that charged her fate, until the smell
of urine brings back the street she lies in.
A dog keeps silent in the alley
as she closes her eyes and her limbs
fail at feeling.
II. The Cemetery of Père-Lachaise (28 May 1871 to present)
Algae and bones remain while
the years grow vines within the gates
outside the city where she last
remembers another’s eyes above her.
Her hometown stops by her gravestone.
They remember her as a child,
before she went away. They raised her
while her mother worked the Paris
nightclubs that remain nearby. The smell
of summer quickly turns to winter.
Again, she misses the feeling of living
through the cold. It takes a half
a centery of paratactic events before
Einstein frets about spooky action at a
distance, reacting to small progress
made by the dim world seeing the whole
tapestry entangling ghosts and quantum
physics. She tries to forget about
separate concepts like forever and places
like the city of light or the times she
wore red lipstick. She’s reminded
the entropic blending of things is her
friend, but can’t forget about the one
who brandished an eagle amulet before
saying to her, you know we fight not for
power but for liberty, equality and fraternity--
almost and slowly, she thinks
Joe Hess received his MA in Poetry from Miami University and his MFA from Ashland University. You can find his work in Marathon Literary Review; appearing soon in Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective, as well as the upcoming anthology by Shabda Press entitled Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms in Our Hands.
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