Ménage à Trois
for David Richter
Once upon Rimbaud’s 1870s time
in a Left Bank gay quartier, as a man
fragmented, saturated, he first wrote,
first recited in public the 100-line poem
of a drunken boat, boat like himself,
drifting, sinking at sea, lost
in the shadowed arrondissement of loss.
Once upon his time, a century later, Richter lived
just around the corner, one steep flight up
at #4 Rue de Canivet, window shutters open
to Saint Sulpice at his back (in case of guilt),
Steinway facing south so he could play nocturnes
for the bronzed, muscled pagan statuary
in Luxumbourg’s lush garden of easy liaisons.
Once upon a time this summer in Paris,
just down the street, I stared at gaunt twin ghosts
haunting the worn cobblestone ways of doubt,
the narrow, shadowy paths from pain.
From nearby belfry rings the hour of need,
from apartment window sounds a coda-echo of desire
from marble wall etched with“Le Bâteau Ivre—
I read in full— at long last write my Chanson d’ Amour—
An eight-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had some 400 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has ten books to her credit, the newest of which are Lithic Scatter and Other Poems (Mercury Heartlink) and Attaining Canopy: Amazon Poems (FootHills Publishing). Forthcoming from Salmon Poetry is Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye (www.centrifugaleye.com), a member of the board of directors of TallGrass Writers Guild and of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), and a member of the New Mexico State Poetry Society. Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.