Parisian backstreets are not here,
not behind the service station orange lights
or down the street which ends
with the blue cashflow machine.
Young people drinking,
laughing at nothing, simply being.
Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir
in the corner holding hands.
Sidney Bechet rests his clarinet
on the bar, watches the big screen.
Langston Hughes in the kitchen
doing dishes, sipping champagne.
I walk three times past the hotdog stand
looking for Parisian backstreets,
for glamorous dancers and artist’s wives,
for Edith Piaf.
The Parisian backstreets are not here
and it’s not enough to answer the question
from the man in the jacket
who looks like Camus.
Published in Poetry NZ 42, March 2011.