27 Rue de Fleurus

by Laurie Byro
Babilu
First Place, April 2015
Judged by Lesley Wheeler


Prying fingers rattle a fastened door,
she left me her face at the house we both lived in.
Attic secrets itch and claw, in the kitchen, endives
cleaved the broth, melon for a soothing end.

She left me her face at the house we both lived in.
Being a genius took all her time.
Cleaved the broth, melon for a soothing end.
Warned the intruders, warmed love’s pipe and slippers.

Being a genius took all her time.
Attic secrets itch and claw, in the kitchen, endives
warned the intruder’s, warmed Love’s pipe and slippers.
Prying fingers rattle a fastened door.

A skillet filled with steam, saffron, wife-servant whore.
Outside the house, Godiva silent and ready.
Smells summon vixens to the window, hounds to the door.
Owls begin their forage, a giant throws his marbles of light.

Outside the house, Godiva silent and ready,
Poem is a poem is a poem is a poem.
Owls begin their forage, a giant throws his marbles of light.
In the farthest part of the yard, a dog becomes the bone.

Poem is a poem is a poem is a poem.
Smells summon vixens to the window, hounds to the door.
In the farthest part of the yard, a dog becomes the bone.
A skillet filled with steam, saffron, wife-servant whore.

Rabbits ribs ache from all their blissful hiding.
Afterwards, it is generally a blue or rose period.
Baby artichokes, asparagus tips, bouillabaisse,
Puss ticks off her list, licks froth from her mouth.

Afterwards, it is generally a blue or rose period.
The simmering onion weeps and wafts.
Puss ticks off her list, licks froth from her mouth.
Trees gather around the house, the muffled keening.

The simmering onion weeps and wafts.
Puss ticks off her list, licks froth from her mouth.
Trees gather round the house, the muffled keening.
Afterwards, it is generally a blue or rose period.


This fine pantoum is also an elegy for Gertrude Stein from the perspective of Alice B. Toklas. Vivid sensory detail often evokes Toklas’ cooking: the scent of saffron, onions simmering and weeping. The repeating form also gives certain phrases, such as “a dog becomes the bone,” an eerie resonance. --Lesley Wheeler

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