Bastille Day

by Sandra Salinas Newton

I open today’s email to the Paris Review’s daily poem which,
Of course, is one of Charles Baudelaire’s.
Ironique, I mutter in my best imitation of Pepé Le Pew because
Of course, I don’t know French
And the closest I’ve gotten to it is
Toast and Fries (and a brief brush with the real thing in graduate school).
But, nonetheless, I push on:
Alors—When I read his raucous poem
(“Get Drunk”), catching in its gait the rhythm of Paris,
I think of Tom Eliot in 1911
Arriving at his pension on Rue St. Jacques
Fresh-faced and innocent
Already drunk on Baudelaire
Having sipped some of Henri Bergson
And still imbibing Laforgue in mighty gulps,
So completely, entirely unaware
That he would (for those of us who ne parlons pas français)
Liberate our poetic voices (whetted with a decent wine):
Mon frère, mon jongleur de mots, mon trapéziste!
To fly over the rooftops of all the world
Like celebrating pigeons flapping loudly over Paris.

Sandra Salinas Newton is a Professor Emeritus of English at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, CT (US). She has published books, Enjoying the Arts: Poetry and Enjoying the Arts: Film by Richards Rosen Press; short story “The Balikbayan” in Philippine American Short Stories; and poems in OPEN: Journal of Arts and Letters, Vita Brevis Literature and the annual Oberon Poetry Magazine.