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Published: Thu Jul 1 2010
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

The night before I first entered Paris,
on a bicycle, I slept in a field
with the city’s lights paling the sky.
It was late, dark, cold October;
I unrolled poncho and sleeping bag,
and by morning my weight had melted
some frozen cowpies. I rolled the mess
and pedaled into Paris. It seemed
wondrous: there I was!, my bicycle seat
felt eight feet high. I pedaled through
colors of Paris to the hotel of a guy
I’d met on the Queen Mary. Yes,
oui, I could stay there that night.
I was too excited not to drink
too much cheap red wine, and back
in his room I threw it up. Wiped
it with towels, remembered the cowshit
I’d brought to the City of Light,
hung towels, poncho, sleeping bag
on the rail of an open courtyard
outside the second-floor room.
My hangover was pounded awake,
the concierge shrieking for me to leave,
threatening police. It had rained—
night had blown what I’d hung
down outside her door, a “Good
morning” worse, much worse,
than my bad French. I staggered
to gather my things and pedal across
the Seine on my second day in Paris.

Dennis Trudell is the author of Fragments in Us: Recent & Earlier Poems (University of Wisconsin Press), which won the Pollak Prize. He also edited Full Court: A Literary Anthology of Basketball (Breakaway Books). His poems and stories have appeared in North American ReviewAGNI, Georgia Review, TriQuarterly, New England Review, and elsewhere, and have been reprinted in more than twenty anthologies. (updated 5/2011)

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