Joni on the Mantelpiece

 

They met in Paris, first, temple street, 2nd floor,
Capricious teenagers cavorting into their twenties,
Ardent and ernest, like you were once, in Greece,
In Californian climes, casually cruising that fragrance
Of embryonic adulthood, a god-fearing blonde
And a darker haired homo reading her his poems,
Pathetic irrational rhymes while she postulated
His meaning, his leaning, his lust, his hunger,
Different to hers, he was meat and she vegan,
Excessively, and a virgin, implausibly, but they danced
For a while, boho style, in their condo by Picasso,
In that marshland, tumbling through your tunes,
Cords you’d constructed, teased and twisted
Around your fingers, round your head, birthing
An early cognisance for that circle game,
The courting of the carousel they considered not
In their templed tower, seeing not the jest of life,
The godforsaken gamble, that game with terminus
At the top, where someone wins and the other one whines.

They slept in Paris, France, hitched up in a hotel,
On a rainy night, duetting in a double bed, withered
Wallpaper wilting over them as she caressed the keys
Of her Casio, covetous to sink between the sheets,
Descend within his dreams, distant and different to hers,
She sensed an extrinsic eroticism in every opposite,
An insatiable enigma in all that was alien, she giggled
Girlishly at the sumptuous sadness of the songs she sung
While it aroused in him a wilfulness, a wonder, a world
To be part, he drifted through dreams where fingers,
Other fingers, not hers, not his, freshly fervent fingers
Pressed him, played him, taught him, turned him on
As she lay, sidelined, solitary, single, sitting up
All the night, just like you said, to see who in the world
He might be, as if that might, in turn, unveil the truth
Of who was she. She was beautiful, he wanted to say,
But he could never tell her, truthfully, she could never
Understand his appreciation at a distance, his admiration
Without temptation but she drew him in, nonetheless,
Thrilled him with her air of ease, the breeze she swept
Into a single shift of the hand, flicker of the finger
As she perfumed, pouted, played the blues, blue,
Your Blue, hey blue, here is a song for you, you said.

They lived in Paris, once, in the 3rd, 2 rooms, a comical
Shelter that boycotted sunlight and a battered boiler
She duelled with at dawn with a horned heel
Of a working girl’s shoe as if to shock him from slumbers
Of wet dreams, far from her unspotted longing,
They were living together but a world apart, searching
For something to seduce them, a crown to anchor them
From the force that pulled and pushed them apart,
She was Marcie in her coat of flowers, dusting tables
With his shirt, just like you foretold, and he the fool
Trying to satisfy her by filleting her fish for her friends
To eat, concocting cakes of chocolate towers to sooth
Untapped temptations, too tempting to be taken.
They were Adam and Eve, teasing each other
Without promises, naked on hissing lawns, brother
And sister, devouring early orchards of adulthood.

They played in Paris, that pair, carrying cases
Of choruses to back street bars, decorated
In shadow and light, like you too, in Canadian days,
Cascading blonde curiosities before the camera
Found you and music makers moulded you
Into all you never wanted, never treasured,
The pleasure to try ‘em, the trouble to leave ‘em,
They knew nothing, either, about the want
But the spotlight, it was tempting, back then,
The applause, the rounds resounding, you said,
But she was more classic than celtic, more Mitchell
Than McCarthy, the green fields were almost foreign
To the fairytale Irish drifter and her keyboard carrying
Pansy who missed nothing of the cow shite and
Colleens of their native land. They were deserters
In post war days, fleeing only peace and potatoes,
Looking for a longing to dissipate complacency,
They’d been train travellers, plane passengers,
Black crows with sights on something shiny,
Motivated movers, climbing corners to catch a taste,
A scent of what was yet to be and they found each other
Like that, bold, bare and brave for a while,
On their templed street, she was his Sharon
And he, the Joni, but they were destined
For only a 45, no 33 long player and the needle
Cut through the rhapsody that ruffled them,
Aroused them, but they were too lost in the song
To notice they were singing a solo now, serenading
Themselves in a self-important spotlight, red is
Angry, green is jealous, or so you said, so she fled
The tower and left him with Joni on the mantelpiece
Singing;
‘I can’t go back there anymore
You know my keys won’t fit the door
You know my thoughts don’t fit the man
They never can, they never can.’

 

All words and artwork by Damien B. Donnelly with a helping of Joni too.

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