Suzanne Allen


In All the Hardest Words

The tangled streets confuse
the wind. Dead leaves fly skyward ever
out of reach, and papers circle, skim
the cobblestones then settle in the gutters. Rue
de This, Rue de That. Of the Fishing Cat, Rue
of Bad Boys, Rue of Martyrs. My uncut hair
blows in all directions, slaps my face and
pokes my eyes. I rue the haircut I need. I rue
need. I rue the pigeons, their feed, their
flight. I’d like to fly out this window
and over the Rue of the Laundresses of Sainte
Opportune. I rue laundry, the church
and its supposed opportunity, this town
and its lack of. The dishes that I do
and when I don’t

I rue the snow and its tendency
to make things slip. Its shadowy negatives
where clear should be. I rue should.
I rue smoking, too, try to snuff it out—rue,
but can’t. Its will to burn, to breathe is stronger
than mine, and so I inhale, rekindling.

I rue the Tour Montparnasse. ill-conceived
and ubiquitous. I rue asbestos
and traffic. I rue the bicyclists their right
to the rues. Napoleon and his grand
boulevards forever bottlenecking
at the roundabouts. So many rues of men,
famous and dead. I rue short men with
visions of grandeur. I rue grandeur
and the French “r” in all the hardest words—
amour, rue, morte.

There is no Rue of Love in Paris, France.
Just lovers loving on benches and sidewalks,
against old buildings and in trains. Against
love. I have a love for old buildings—
the abandoned ones in need
of a fresh coat of paint. Rue of White Coats
in the Marais. No Rue of Needs
or Wants, but I rue want. The Muslim women
needing in markets and the metro, sometimes
missing limbs. They have so many
children. What do they want with all those
children? There is no Rue of Children,
only Rue des Bons Enfants,
but who rues the good ones? Instead, the school
mistress leads them up Avenue Victoria,
walking mostly backwards as she commands
their attention. They require so much
attention. The Johnson’s smell of new flesh
and DNA, debates over family resemblance,
the Playskool, the Baby Gap talk, friends
gone away. I rue gaps

in conversation, lapses in memory. Rue
des Archives, so much building required
to hold them all. They will be moved
to the suburbs and the president, who is not
tall, will make a museum. Where was that English
bookstore? I rue the English bookstore, it’s
limited stock, its inefficient system. Butcher’s
Rue where tourists flock like livestock,
names of literary men on their lips. No Rue
of Lips… sounds like rouge a lèvres. Lipstick
lost in the bottom of my purse. I rue lipstick,
especially at the bottom of my purse
and on my teeth. And gloss. My hair
gets stuck on a windy day, drags
the color and shine across my cheeks.




Carousels Are Falling from Our Lives

Fall. And they’ve gone and dismantled two more
of the old wooden carousels. Which one
will be next? I’d like to sell tickets in that sticky

sweet booth, listen to that merry music
‘til I dream it as I drift off. Step right up

to the merry-go-round. Your hands will smell
of brass. Catch yourself in the looking glass
up top, the whole world flying by behind you

again and again. Something jovial in the turning
thing, the word merry, itself. Looped carnival music

without a hint of irony, except for this turning,
so many little girls afraid at first to mount
the tallest horses, the ones that rise and fall.

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Suzanne Allen is a Pushcart Prize nominee with poems published and anthologized in five countries and online at Carnival Lit Mag and Crack the Spine. She co-edits the Paris based issue.ZERO, creates poetry videos for Vlogosophy on You Tube, and her chapbook, Verisimilitude, is available at Corrupt Press.net. In her dreams, she is always about to leave somewhere, there is usually an ocean, and in the best ones there are kisses.

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