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 published ten books of poetry. The first was Light Pressure (Angus & Robertson, 1983); the most recent, a selection of the previous nine volumes, was 101 Poems (Pitt Street Poetry, 2015). His work has been published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies for the past thirty-five years. In 2010 he was the Literature Board’s resident at the Keesing Studio in Paris; his book, The Sunset Assumption (Pitt Street Poetry, 2012), was a reflection on that experience. He is at present completing his next book, titled A Casual Penance. He has also been also a secondary school teacher in New South Wales, Victoria, and the ACT.