14.1 (Fall 2009)   The 2River View AuthorsPoemsPDFMake the MagArchives2River
Bird Detail

Jay Rubin

Approaching Paris

Beneath the rain
     The blue-gray glum
No river Seine
     No Arc de Triomphe
Only empty countryside
     A fallow field
A horse-hitched cart
     A narrow red-dirt road

How am I to recognize
     This terrain
As France? On the tarmac
     Diesel fuel
A bus of darting eyes
     Slimy fish pressed into tin
Later, bags and boxes
     Belched from metal mouths

On the street, Moroccans
     Whistle from their cabs
Another bus, a Metro train
     Every ad in French
How am I to recognize
     The evil from the good?
That blind man begging
     That woman in a hood

Metro Musicians

for Chino & Abel

One slung guitar, one funky velvet hat
They ride the Metro underground
Nothing back home but a cold-water flat

The shy one grins, a timid cat
Fingertips plucking, sucking sound
From his guitar; his friend's funky hat

Hangs in the air, a pesky gnat
Buzzing a song, bouncing around
Reaping the rent for a cold-water flat

The singer kneels down by a young girl's lap
Her eyes resist, but her smile unfrowns
One slung guitar, one funky velvet hat

Once their song ends, the passengers clap
Coins feed the hat like rain from a cloud
Not drips in a drain of a cold-water flat

I, too, contribute a clink to their sack
I riding trains all day through town
No slung guitar, no old funky hat
And nothing — no home, not even a flat

Jay Rubin teaches writing at The College of Alameda in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he publishes Alehouse. He holds an MFA in Poetry from New England College. contact