To San Francisco, Iceland, etc.

Sat, 03/15/2014 - 13:39 -- TylerD


To San Francisco, Iceland, etc.

In another life, I will write this

in the French language

In another life, I will write this

in a language that doesn’t exist

For now, I will write in this moment

I will write in the language that I know


I will write as the Christmas tree lights twinkle—

or so it seems—through bleary, midnight lenses

as technology hums, as the guitar rings in my ears

the one I was playing a minute ago, though

I wasn’t any good


In another life, I will play

the guitar proficiently

In yet another life, I hope to play

with the angels that line the streets

of San Francisco

Angels of Lao Tzu who,

through carelessness, ascended


Not through apathy but transcendence


Tonight, I read Baudelaire

aloud in English

Tomorrow, I will read

aloud in French, his own tongue

In another life, I will read Baudelaire

aloud in French, and I will read it as my own tongue


I shall have many tongues one day, many lives


Perhaps, in the days to come

existences will intertwine,


in France, 1945

not knowing whether to look or not

Don’t look up, they said—a relatively new phrase

to so permeate the mind

I understood temporality for the first time

I understood too that hellfire

is as real as


warm hearths in 1973

in curious, Icelandic cabins

a few hours outside Reykjavík

amid mountains and blue waterfalls

which tumble down the rocks

to fields of the purest green


Together, I dreamt once that we lived there

in another lifetime, another universe

one that was a little less full

a little more complete

one in which I played guitar by the cliffs—

and I could feel those angels wink at me

as we played separate, compatible tunes—

one in which I read Baudelaire

aloud to her in French,

as we sipped coffee in a quaint shop

in Reykjavík alone together


“Who is she?”

“I do not know”

“What is she like?”

“She is.”


I read to her aloud in that coffee shop

I read in my native tongue:


“Ils marchent devant moi, ces Yeux pleins de lumières,

Qu’un Ange très-savant a sans doute aimantés;

Ils marchent, ces divins frères qui sont mes frères,

Secouant dans mes yeux leurs feux diamantes”


Eyes of a color I know not

communicate all of that which is lacking in this life

all of that which in the next will come to pass

if we humans can just behave


Tell me one thing with the windows wide open—

open to the ever-expanding, verdant fields

the everlasting glaciers, the eternal waterfalls

the towering, snow-capped mountain peaks—

tell me one thing universal


and I will follow it


till then, I continue on

a dusty traveler, struggling to capture the essence

of the moment in an empty wine bottle

which I carry with me across the railroad tracks

and the water and the fields

on my way to my destination—

to San Francisco, to Iceland, etc.

or to that coffee shop

with the windows open to all of it—

I continue on my path of change

in the direction of foreign lands.


(Translation of the stanza [in French], a quote from Baudelaire's "Le Flambeau Vivant" [The Living Torch]: 

"They walk in front of me, those eyes aglow with light 

Which a learned Angel has rendered magnetic; 

They walk, divine brothers who are my brothers too, 

Casting into my eyes diamond scintillations").



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