Vallejo in Paris
He was not yet married to Georgette.
He was on his own, uncertain where he’d sleep or if he’d eat
Before tomorrow. He sauntered nonetheless through galleries,
Staring at paintings, sculptures, while winter turned the sidewalks to ice.
His shoes felt thin, his suit the best he could make of it.
He tried to stay dry and look like he belonged.
If he had conversations with God, who spoke Spanish with a Peruvian accent,
He had them quietly. And, when he could afford it,
Had them over coffee in the cheapest café he could find.
The coffee was cut with chicory, and there was no sugar.
God, he thought, was someone’s senile father, seated close to the oven
In a hut in the mountains. The news took a long time to reach him,
And when it did, there was nothing he could do but nod his head, mumbling
“That’s too bad. There’s so much sorrow there. So much.”
The monsters who tore out the intestines of children were real. He’d felt
The damp walls in prison, and he’d seen the glass eyes of the fox and badger
Taxidermied in the ratcatcher’s window, their mouths open to show
Their teeth. February rain caused icicles to slide from
The windowsills and smash like empty bottles against the pavement.
He knew it was stupid to argue with God, but he did it anyway,
God who couldn’t give him a proper pair of shoes.
He pulled up his collar and stared into the light that shined
Through a restaurant window above the elegant diners
Eating chicken and potatoes.
George Franklin is the author of Traveling for No Good Reason (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions), Among the Ruins / Entre las ruinas (Katakana Editores), Travels of the Angel of Sorrow (Blue Cedar Press), and Noise of the World (forthcoming Sheila-Na-Gig Editions). Individual publications include: Into the Void, The Woven Tale Press Magazine, The Threepenny Review, Salamander, Pedestal Magazine, Cagibi, and The American Journal of Poetry. He practices law in Miami, teaches poetry workshops in Florida state prisons, and is the co-translator, along with the author, of Ximena Gómez’s Último día/Last Day (Katakana Editores).