I’ve Never Been in Paris
Poetry by Stephen Krewson


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“The refrigerator light phenomenon: Just as my 7-year-old son might think the refrigerator light is always on because it is always on whenever he opens the door to check it, so also someone might mistakenly think her entire visual field is clear simultaneously…”—Eric Scwhitzgebel

The summer night breezes
over the contours of the Volkswagen.
My brother sits in back, glove in hand,
as the green fields and grandstand
recede into the dusk.
The clink of t-ball bats
and the clapping of parents
are faint taps on the drum of the ear,
the passing headlights mere sparks
in the eye’s fire. What am I
missing when I think about her (so far away),
looking straight through stop
signs, flicking myself onto autopilot?
In a dozen homes over town,
boys in dusty polyester throw
open the fridge for post-game snacks:
soda, cookies, milk, fruit-by-the-foot.
Do seven-year-olds know refrigerators
or understand their hum—
the hydraulics of preservation?
Perhaps those lights still blaze
away long after the popsicles
have been pushed back and
the silent doors of night swung shut.
Inside, the unconscious world teems,
reeking of ripeness and artifice,
decay and desire,
ignorant like us, waiting
in the dark to be consumed.

 The Polar Bears of Des Moines

Each winter they clomp down
from the northern tundra, pulling the Arctic Circle
like a white hat over expectant
Iowa. Rangers in noisy choppers
mark their slow trek over the Alaskan floes,
through the Rockies, and at last,
here, beside the coiled waters of the Des Moines.
A great glacier of snowy fur and black muzzles
meanders past the gold dome
of the capitol and crunches onto the rich
deposits of the outlying dumps.
They’re out of place, these bears,
with their huge appetites
and garbage-stained maws—
nothing like the spare beauty of silos.
Late at night, they paw
through the vast cornfields,
tripping the floodlights by above-ground pools.

The Lives of the Poets

I’ve always desired to enlarge the life I live,
only occasionally through deed.
—Stephen Dunn

I’ve never been in Paris
or a ménage a trois,
but from my description
of the Eiffel Tower as “bigger
than it looks on postcards”
who can doubt that
I really did stroll along the Seine
and then up the seventeen marble steps
to Chloe and Nicole and Oh!
what nights we spent in the boudoir
of my imagination, the city
outside blazing with the light
of a thousand chandeliers.
And so I have always been renovating
the squat house
of my life, touching
up weather-beaten reality
with coats of glossy paint.
Who will call this falsehood?
Can life only be enlarged through truth,
experience through travel and suffering?
Better to indulge these fictions,
sitting down to write what I want to be
not what I am—the stooped
man in the cardigan preparing
to delete the daily email promising
to ADD 3+ INCHES!!!!
which, as you should know
by now, is already
the stuff of legend.  

Stephen Krewson is a College senior from Schenectady, New York. These poems, along with two others, took first prize in a University-wide poetry contest in the spring.

  ©2009 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 6/26/09