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Steve De France

Man Standing in Louisiana

The train jerks & I start nervously
at the sudden sound of banging couplings.
For a moment you are framed
by my compartment window,
as if you are a glassed museum
exhibit of early man.
the urgent clang of couplings
as the train bumps forward -- I start
but you don't turn at the sound.
You don't care the train is leaving,
or that I sit behind air-conditioned glass
my mind working back through time
you are an African Runner
standing alone in sun-baked Kraal
& in your eyes the sky reflects
a terrible primal red.

The train lurches forward
on fire with the sunset.
at my isolated window
I start at this leaving,
I always do -- My iron portal
speeds across bayous,
& as night shadows lengthen
my train whistle gathers itself
into a high, brittle cry
flinging itself
into the coming of night.

A Little Background Music

A surge of French horns --a clash of cymbals.
Passion squeezed into a single down-stroke of baton.
Overture to Romeo & Juliet
Beauty pours over my senses.
Cast out on a sea -- tossed on a tempest,
love & anguish abound.
Musical passion
bleeds through my speakers.
Waters filled with blood.
The string section explodes with a soul hunger.
The phone rings:
"This is the City Sanitation Department."
"Do you live at 429 W. 10th Street?"
"We are unable to pick up your garbage."
"Your car is parked closer than three feet to the garbage bin."
"This a joke?"
"No, it is not a joke. You are in violation of city ordinances.
Are you having a loud party Mr. De Franzie?"
"It's De France. No I am not. You hear this music --its by Tchaikovsky."
"Yes, I hear it. It's too loud."
"Can't you feel Peter's angst?"
"His what?"
"Angst --his angst!"
"What is this angst thing? Some kind of lewd remark?
Some kind of pornography?"
"No,'s more like Weltsmertz --"
"Like a weariness of the soul -- that's what it is."
"I am turning your case over to my superiors."
"That's just about anybody --right?"
"Kiss my ass, Mr. De Franco."
"Its De France and you," I said,
"have a nice day too."

©2008 by Steve De France

Steve De France is a widely published poet, playwright, and essayist, both in America and in Great Britain. His work has appeared in literary publications in America, England, Canada, France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, India, Australia, and New Zealand. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry in both 2002 and 2003. A few recent publications include The Wallace Stevens Journal, The Mid-American Poetry Review, Ambit, Atlantic, and The Sun. In England he won a Reader's Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem "Hawks." In the United States he won the Josh Samuels' Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem: "The Man Who Loved Mermaids."

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