Partly cloudy. Nippy with scattered showers. Light winds from the east. Greenwich mean time plus one on wet black streets and dingy sheets equals two thirty seven pm local in the mildew cheap room they found for me. One rainy day it was. In Paris. Armed at Gibbs Kaserne in Frankfurt hours previous with rucksack with sleeping bag with two week Eurail pass with a bottle of anything a package of cigarettes a puppylove and brilliant advice from the sage whose name is now somehow fool-heartedly forgotten. Whose words however that day testament again to the fact that God blesses all sergeants with training in advice and counsel. Because God loves all privates. And all privates being babies as such require a certain guidance. So thus spoke as I departed the representative backbone of the Army to the young babygreen me: If young soldier you get into a bind first you will seek and then you will find somewhere nearby a payphone. And no you will not destroy it. Nor will you eat it drink it capture it or fornicate with it. You will use it to call the airport. And you will ask the kind voice on the phone politely sir or ma’am may I please have the USO. Orders being orders the payphone survived and nineteen dollars later in the place found for me a key was turned and slowly did the man open the door for me to look about the room. And I could pay so did he say to me day by youthful day and I said we’ll take it. The rusted drip sink in the corner. The squat toilet down the hall. Passing doors left and right creaking decrepit wood with wool green army socks through smoke and stale still air of cheap wine and door-breathed songs of lust in the afternoon. In this ancient tenement continually baptized by weeping hiss from grey-belly brilliant sky of cloud and rain. In the morning downstairs softening hard rolls of brown bread in hot chocolate sat at the next table smoking in black turtleneck Pat Benatar. Or she who from appearance certainly could have been. Or at least her identical twin had she one. We are young we are young heartache to heartache. Then off we go with pockets full of Francs like arcade token playmoney and the old weathered beatnik travel guide with the hitchhiker’s thumb on the cover something like get off at Pere Lachaise and follow the local sleaze they will lead you right to it. A woman on the metro in a cheap cotton dress, a light color, almost beige. Healthy specimen with textbook fine posture and more so when I pretended not to notice. Clearing her throat louder and louder and louder and louder and as I continued pretending she began bumping me with her crossed leg. I playing possum on the shoulder of the woman I was with until she woke me saying we need to get off we need to get off we're going the wrong way! Then running across the echo corridor and up some stairs and down some stairs and decoding the dyslexia diagram a second or two then across some track and I noticed the stop was Bastille as the doors closed behind us on the train. Those moments come to me some nights. While my children sleep far away or stay awake as all our kind do so often stay. While perhaps a combat kitten batters crumpled failed poems in some dark corner knocking over an ashtray wishing in vain she could somehow kill. If she could just kill something just once only once just one little time to kill some tiny little thing and eat it. While an aging contemplating arthritic gelding nibbles rubber lips in a vacant manger flaring nostrils which know the oats are there and sniff and lip and seek and know in a moment again they must be there but in fact they are absolutely not. This faith renewed and lost repeatedly through moonbeams while some stay awake while kittens battle and while in soft rainfall Pere Lachaise stands solemn and silent. Though graffiti stricken and defaced proud still as a mountain. For as defaced or not as the vision as the child as the kitten and as the horse it remains. It does not move. With arrows all about to reckon lost forgotten pilgrims the last leg home. In the heart on the grave itself there lay that silver day six yellow roses on pristine perfect white sand in the raindrops. Revered. Untouched. Respected. While surrounded by filth. A fortress with walls invisible. Buried there as well in close proximity none other than Johan Sebastian Bach. Who despite death and all legend controversy nihilism and useless hope of foolish pilgrims is certain beyond all doubt and youth that in fact Jim is actually there. This, for never having rested a day since he arrived. The Frenchman sitting lamenting the loss of the long since dead rebel poet did not like Americans, he told me, and he did not like cameras. So I turned it off and ceased all questioning and told him I was truly sorry. But he did not care nor seem forgiving at all in any way able to be perceived. I mourned with him then in wet silence for a time and soon in the wet silence did I then take my leave. Suspecting not at all I was never to return. And after lamenting with the Frenchman and after washing in the sink and creeping down the hall and after dipping bread in chocolate years passed and all the while never knowing of the French Revolution I shared jokes with no other person about how once, when I was young, I did storm the Bastille. It is true. I stormed the Bastille. Visiting the grave of Jim Morrison. One rainy day it was. In Paris.
Saturday, February 21, 2009