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My Boulevard of Dream
by David Matthews

I stroll — downtown — in the spirit
of André Breton and the Surrealist boys
1920s Paris — score
a copy of Le Monde diplomatique
at the tobacconist
reading as I walk
moving my lips as I read
parce que mon français
it’s not so great
so even the hard case
wearing a belt of chains
a necklace of syringes
tattoos on her lips
sees me a mumbling my thoughts to myself person
and crosses to the darker side of Ninth Avenue

then a chance encounter
with a gaggle of kids
outside the pizza joint
just up from Reading Frenzy
a girl with buttered hair
and ten pounds of baubles
offers to set herself on fire
for five dollars
and a boy who could be my nephew
leaning on his yellow trumpet
tugs her jersey shirt and says
in a voice that cracks and breaks
early on the way to manhood,
sit down and eat

it’s standing room only
at the coffee room at Powell’s
so I continue on
the Pearl District
the galleries the lofts
— elegant dining
out on an old warehouse loading dock
just up from the streetcar tracks
a chill, winter of a Portland afternoon

drizzled out and overcast
around the corner from the fine wine shop
concrete decor très nouveau chic
I step into Torrefazione
order cappuccino — a double
and settle at a table in the corner
the ghost of Isadora Duncan
looks over my shoulder
and tugs my scarf
while I try to catch the words
that blow through my mind
and write them down
in the breath of the storm
that rises up in the unnamed
place beyond the fury
of what we think and feel and see

I look from my journal
where the black ink scrawl
lays open my heart
and gaze out the window
the river flow of humanity
all those long Modigliani faces
and finely turned ankles
— but for the tattoos
straight from a 19th century European novel
where nothing is explicit
but everyone knows precisely where babies come from

perhaps Vivaldi is on the stereo
or Puccini
and what gets me
the joint is more elegant than bohemian, okay
but it is still a coffee joint
and Vivaldi
I know it is too much to expect
Jean-Paul Sartre on speed
penning Critique of Dialectical Reason
at Café Deux Magots
but someone could be sketching furiously the scene
or reading Beckett in French
or at least The New York Review of Books

au contraire,
it’s a cell phone and triple skinny latté crowd
out to gentrify my boulevard of dream
a refrigerated barista
with a boyfriend from Topeka
her cerulean blue toenails
and hieroglyph eyes
eyes me like I am maybe
a sex fiend wannabe
or third-rate poetry geek
took a wrong turn
bound for the demimonde
while a skinny woman
cubist cheekbones, sun-drenched hair
dressed like she is waiting for Mick Jagger
dances delicate fingers on the lip
of the espresso cup
like she might have been my cousin
she could have been my twin
her eyes are all ennui — and see —
into the life of things
and the furious pass’t the years
threaten to become

at the table one over
blow-dried, buffed and suave
immaculate t-shirts designer jeans Nike Air
two fellas who spent the morning
at soccer practice with their daughters
before they hit the gym
talk startups and dot.coms
like they have stock options for brains
the one with the diamond
in his left ear lobe
cell phone in a leather holster on his hip
the office — wherever — he is
and forever —
pulls a laptop from his briefcase and logs on
to do a deal
it gets him off
he takes a sip
from his triple skinny latté
to mellow out —
and mentions how on the way home
he wants to pick up some flowers
because tonight he is going waltzing
with Matilda on her birthday

I think maybe I do not belong — here —
among these people — but
who among us knows enough —
to know enough — to know — much
too many are the secrets held in the heart
and concealed from the self
how we make ourselves who we are
upon this chiaroscuro boulevard
in light and shadow — bound

previously appeared in Tryst and Magnapoets





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