States of Poetry 2017 - ACT | 'Paris Evening' by John Foulcher

Paris Evening

13 November 2015

It is Friday, around five. He is
strolling on the rue Voltaire, flâneur
for the young century. The afternoon is crumbling,

the trees are shutting down for winter,
leaves pirouetting to the street
and cracking like small bones beneath his feet.

All around him, the streetlights are coming on,
canisters of empire, recalling days
when endings were clamorous.

He stops at a pharmacy, lingers
beneath its green neon cross
and picks up something for the season’s first flu.

Outside, the boulevardes are burning
with bars and cafés, boulangeries
lined with bright, sticky sweets like porcelain toys.

He brushes the shoulder of a blonde woman
in black, says Desolé, passes a tabac
and buys some cigarettes, thinks how quickly

the last packet went. He meets his lover
at the Café Bonne Bierre. It is still
warm enough to sit street-side and smoke.

They rattle around in their half-empty glasses.
Her eyes smoulder, a promise. They touch,
incidentally, finish their drinks

and leave to see the American band.
The hours are tumbling, but they have
plenty of time. They will hear the first, jangling notes.

John Foulcher

John Foulcher

John Foulcher

John Foulcher has written eleven books of poetry, most recently 101 Poems (Pitt Street Poetry 2015), a selection from his previous books, and A Casual Penance (Pitt Street Poetry 2017). His work has appeared in Australian magazines and anthologies for more than thirty-five years, and he has received and been shortlisted for many awards. Poems from his first book, Light Pressure (Angus&Robertson 1983), were set for study on the New South Wales Higher School Certificate syllabus for ten years. In 2010–11 he was the Literature Board’s resident at the Keesing Studio in Paris. He divides his time between Canberra and an old Catholic church which he is renovating near the town of Braidwood in New South Wales. His books can be purchased from

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