Poetry at the Post: All Things French

French Grocer Marathon, Texas April 2015
French Grocer
Marathon, Texas
April 2015

NaPoWriMo Day 27: Write a hay(na)ku—which as I learned to day is a variant of the haiku. The formula for a hay(na)ku is simple: 3 lines arranged in ascending word order—1 word, 2 words, 3 words—or you can reverse it as I’ve done below.

All Things French by Alice-Catherine Jennings

Chanel No 5*
chic, fine

black fruit bouquet
Bordeaux wine

a lover’s kiss
his tongue

tall upright frame
angular blade

charming stone cottage
Chez Alice

*Stopping by The French Grocer in Marathon, TX (pop 430) on my way to Big Bend National Park caused ” a dream crash” last  night. Well, it wasn’t entirely The French Grocer’s fault. There was also a power outage at BBNP so the lodge restaurant was offering its “Power Outage” menu to a full-to-capacity park. What’s on a “Power Outage” menu? Not much. It’s limited to a few cold items and whatever they can throw on the charcoal grill out back.Yet, Gracias a Dios for the effort

I sank into bed after “not much food” and a glass of wine—not French…and soon I was in Vienna with Coco Chanel at a Chinese restaurant that ran out of food…well, not for everyone… just me. I was complaning to the manager and then Sisi, the last Empress of Austria, walked by…not true, the last part that is…and maybe I wasn’t even with Coco Chanel but with somebody else…perhaps my daughter…. I think I was wearing Chanel No. 5 but then again maybe I was only smelling the insect repellent I had put on my wrists to keep the gnats away…yet I WAS in Vienna and a woman walked by…or did she? Then today I ran across this short film, Reincarnation.  Did Karl Lagerfeld raid my dream before it had even been dreamt?

Poetry at the Post: A Trip to Rouen with May Wedderburn Cannan or “Let’s Give Peace a Chance”

For Veterans Day 2015~

Reposting this poem in memory of the men and women who have suffered and died in war. Let’s say “No More War” and “Give Peace A Chance.” Click here for the video of John Lennon and Yoko singing “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”



For the royal entry of Henry II in Rouen, 1 October 1550
For the royal entry of Henry II in Rouen, 1 October 1550

Early morning over Rouen, hopeful, high, courageous morning,
And the laughter of adventure, and the steepness of the stair,

Have you ever traveled to beautiful places where the history of bloody battles, rebellions and executions soaks the stones, the air? You marvel at an historic sight only to discover that most of structure had been burned down or bombed out in a war.

This is how I imagine Rouen, a city with a tortured history going as far back as the Gauls and continuing to massive destruction during World War II. It was here that Joan of Arc was executed in 1431.

Quiet night-time over Rouen, and the station full of soldiers,
All the youth and pride of England from the ends of all the earth;

The poet May Wedderburn Cannan was born in Oxford, England to an intellectual family. In 1915, she spent a month in Rouen helping out at a canteen for soldiers. Her experience in this military supply base during World War I inspired this poem.

Can I forget the passage from the cool white-bedded Aid Post
Past the long sun-blistered coaches of the khaki Red Cross train
To the truck train full of wounded, and the weariness and laughter
And “Good-bye, and thank you, Sister”, and the empty yards again?

Compiègne, France: Château de Compiègne - Musée du Second Empire - Adolphe Yvon: Bataille de Solférino
Compiègne, France: Château de Compiègne – Musée du Second Empire – Adolphe Yvon: Bataille de Solférino

The Red Cross was borne from the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino (June 24, 1859) during the Austro-Sardinian War. In one day, 40,000 soldiers died or were left wounded. In 1867, the first International Conference of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent was held. Austria formed a Red Cross chapter in 1880 and The Hapsburg Empress Elizabeth (or “Sisi”) presided over its inaugural meeting in June of that same year.

Robert Antoine Pinchon, 1905, Le Pont aux Anglais, Rouen, oil on canvas, 38 × 46 cm, private collection
Robert Antoine Pinchon, 1905, Le Pont aux Anglais, Rouen, oil on canvas, 38 × 46 cm, private collection

When the world slips slow to darkness, when the office fire burns lower,
My heart goes out to Rouen, Rouen all the world away;

Poetry at the Post: It’s a Coronation!

A Crown of Autumn Leaves

Holding past summer’s hold,
Open and strong,
One of the leaves in the crown is gold…

"Buda Castles-Matthias Church". Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons
“Buda Castles-Matthias Church”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

A cool front moving through the West Texas desert makes me think of autumn.

Yet, it is summer. And, it was in the summer of 1867 when Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife, Empress Elisabeth, were crowned King and Queen of Hungary at St. Matthias Church in Budapest.

This was quite the event. The Coronation was one of the most spectacular pageants on the Continent and covered extensively in the papers of Paris and London.

The royal carriage covered
with gems and gold & drawn
by eight white horses, 182
aristocrats elegantly dressed,
a grand procession, maidens
in white with flowers..
St Stephen’s Crown
on a velvet cushion,
five days of banquets…

Even a special Coronation Mass was composed by famous Hungarian Franz Liszt. Here is a selection:

Liszt’s “Benedictus, the invocation for divine help and guidance, is rhythmic and trance-like, similar to a chant.

Annie Finch’s poem, “A Crown of Autumn Leaves” is from her book Calendars, a book of poems organized around ritual chants and the seasons.

This poem is so lovely with the repetition of the vowel sounds. The “o” summons the circling of the crown of fallen leaves.

Here is my crown
Of winding vine,
Of leaves that dropped,
That fingers twined,
another crown
to yield and shine

The crown of leaves shines…but like the King and Queen of Hungary, so soon it is nevermore.

Poetry at the Post-Vienna: It’s All in the Red

Red Ghazal

I’ve noticed after a few sips of tea, the tip of her tongue, thin and red/
with heat, quickens when she describes her cuts and bruises—deep violets and red.

Yesterday afternoon I took a visit to the Museum of Art History in Vienna.

The building is palatial and so is the collection. The museum was commissioned in the last quarter of the 19th century by the Emperor, Franz-Joseph I, who ruled for 68 years until his death in 1916.

Tragedy was not a stranger to the imperial family.

Franz-Joseph’s son died in a suicide pact with his mistress; his younger brother Maximilian was executed in Mexico; and his wife Elisabeth Amalia was stabbed to death by an assassin.


Franz-Joseph’s marriage was not the best as his love was not reciprocated by his mysterious and somewhat odd wife. Obsessed with her weight, Empress Elisabeth never allowed it to hover above 110 lbs by subscribing to a strict fasting and exercise regime.

He was so charming—pointed out planets, ghost galaxies, an ellipsis
of ants on the wall. And when he kissed me goodnight, my neck reddened.

Through this ghazal-I absolutely adore this form!—I discovered the poetry/of AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHI. I find her work quite exciting and look forward to reading more.