AUTUMN 07: Janet McCann

Added: 09 September 2007 to

Three Poems by Janet McCann


Janet McCannJanet McCann's poetry has been published in Kansas Quarterly, Parnassus, Nimrod, Sou'wester, Christian Century, Christianity and Literature, New York Quarterly, Tendril, Poetry Australia and McCall's, among many others. She has won three chapbook contests, sponsored by Pudding Publications, Chimera Connections, and Franciscan University Press. A 1989 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship winner, McCann has taught at Texas A & M University since 1969. She has co-edited three anthologies with David Craig, Odd Angles of Heaven (1994), Place of Passage ( Story Line, 2000), and Poems of Francis and Clare (St, Anthony Messanger, 2004), and has co-authored two textbooks, Creative and Critical Thinking, 2nd ed. (Houghton Mifflin, 1985) and In a Field of Words (Prentice Hall, 1993). Her book on Wallace Stevens Wallace Stephens: The Celestial Possible was published by Twayne in 1996. McCann's most recent poetry book is Emily's Dress (Pecan Grove Press, 2004).



three times the age of my first visit

I return, a tourist now

armed with camera like the others

it's much the same

but there are now so many of us-

history flows around us

we snap at it

it vanishes

at the bouquinistes I buy:

old Simenons, pages from a hymnal,

eaux-fortes of Notre Dame,

an old map of Provence

I do not buy the little Eiffel towers or the

magnets and buttons

the young in each other's arms

along the Seine

and I am three times older


a sudden rain comes

water gushes from the mouths of gargoyles

on the sides of Notre Dame, umbrellas pop open

like batwings, I stand by the cathedral

let the gargoyles pour water over me

the lovers

embracing under umbrellas

think I am mad

later I buy to-go gargoyles

at the Tabac, the owner wraps them

in plastic padding, but I know

the gargoyles do not go

I go

they stay




has to do with opulent churches

rich with madonnas and the tiny eyed warden

who snuffs the candles out by handfuls

and throws them in a can of sand

so people will pay to light more

he shouts his outrage over students

picnicking on the marble steps, though

so long as the steps have been there

the young have opened sandwiches, bottles

of soda and beer, and sat joyously in sunshine

among the pigeons who also deface the steps

and belong there, but the tiny eyed warden

shakes his long wide broom at them,

and the beggars beg because they have that right

and he scowls at them, and he doesn't believe

anything, particularly in the rights of beggars

or students or in the efficacy of candles

but only in the necessity of order,

the need to make a living, the respect

due the dark priest now moving towards his box.




scent of lavender and eucalyptus

words names I have forgotten

the woods the flowers bathed in light

boudrages, those shiny bugs

buzzing the tall grass. the mistral blows

wash off the line. Those words I remember:

linge, ligne. faces of friends

catching the light. something invisible

recording. long ago, maybe half a

romance, running down sandy alleys,

hiding behind dunes. now, decor, a kind of

ritual. return. faces, light

turning, a turn. again, come back

to the land not ours, the high delight,

the wind over the earth, the language

of laughter and the senses, plates piled

with tomates, pates, aioli

the bright road windswept

light melting over flowers, fig trees,

memories of other departures

a turning of faces, time returning, light



© 2007 Janet McCann

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