somewhere on the way to Arcachon

talking loud & (ReAlly) fast
seems to be a french thing,
with gestures & mimic that
adds layers way beyond DI-
mensions, so you get the gist,
even if you don’t know a single word,

i catch fragments,
half closed eyes, bathing
in the early morning sunlight
after hours on the highway,

we ran out of gas tonight,
left the main route,
(this would be a separate story–)

nothing of it matters now,

old men with baguettes, squished
in their armpit, le quotidien in hand,
life is just about to start,
smells raw and unperfumed
like Gauloises filterless, legs crossed,

i sit on a shaky chair,
sip café au lait, only half an inch
from falling off the trottoir,
soul sunk deep in milk sea clouds,
& it’s all i need for now


vive la france! il est le quatorze juillet aujourd’hui et les francais célébrer leur fete nationale.. karin aka manicddaily opens the dVerse Poetics pub doors at 3pm EST… and next to french poetry,  we serve baguette, fruits de mers and fois gras today…so you should def. come and join us…smiles


54 responses to “somewhere on the way to Arcachon

  1. Really nice feel to this piece Claudia. Great tone, wonderful narration and I just love the parenthetical bits, especially this would be a separate story, whetting the appetite for more, yet creating a sense of necessary waiting. Nothing of it matters now, what a great follow up line to this parenthetical hook. Fabulous imagery, detailed throughout, but none better than the old men stanza, capped by a great scene which is imaged to the scene itself, yet it’s obvious there is more going on beneath, which you did such a nice job alluding to, with half an inch, falling, sunk deep, clouds. Great piece. Thanks

  2. Delightful writing and brings the imagery to life of French culture and lifestyle , I find the Spanish language to be fast after having married Ana my Chilean wife, then again the Italians speak rapidly with many gestures.

  3. I enjoyed the details in this poem, Claudia. I’ve always had trouble with the baguettes squished in the armpit of someone who is probably riding his bicycle. And I can just see someone who smokes those STRONG French cigarettes (and those dark brown smoker’s teeth). Ah, it’s almost Bastille Day, isn’t it? Oui Oui!!

  4. great flavor of the moment into france!

    and can really “really” feel how, at the end of such a snippet of time, it would indeed be grand to sit and sip and be it “all i need for now 😉

    thanks claudia, hope to hear more of this trip later 😉

  5. I have a Scottish daughter-n-law that loves France, my son on the other hand has a different view. Ha! I shell link them both here as I feel they will love this. Wonderful look at the culture..much enjoyed.

  6. A visual feast this is on Le quatorze Juillet Love especially your entire last stanza. getting grounded with a cafe au lait while— soul sunk deep in milk sea clouds. yum.

  7. Great capture of the quirks and some of the traditions that are so characteristic of the French. To think, I used to smoke those dreadful Gauloise cigs too, once upon a
    Loved the last stanza

  8. Bonjour Cuaudia. Jaim’e la France, croissants et les francais.

    Sounds like quite a French experience. Was there many moons ago. I like the picture this piece leaves in my mind.

  9. so when are we going to get the other story…smiles….running out of gas…yikes….but i really like your story telling in the rest of it….still going to have to try that trick of heating the baguette in my arm pit though…smiles…the snippets you captured you shared…smiles…def like the feeling of contentment in that last line…

  10. Yes, gesticulating and appearing as though to prove a point. But to all intents and purposes it’s a normal reaction.

    You are with all details making it all the more interesting to follow. Great take Claudia!


  11. Wonderful feel to this poem, Claudia – that mixture of seamyness and picturesque of the French – a bit of grit! And yet all so pleasant in the sun! Very lovely. k .

  12. I like your calmness amidst the fast-paced French… love the last stanza. Now that’s serenity.

  13. I knew a Frenchwoman who once said, “You Americans are so afraid to express anger.” This got me to thinking that maybe certain ‘French things’ are really good things – like, if they’re not as prone as Americans to interpret a show of emotion (like anger) as rudeness. That’s a good thing – to be frank, open, on the level, the way your poems are.

  14. Claudia ~ such a fun write of a caught glimpse into French ordinary day ~ French baquettes & heavy milk cream ~ especially lived the line ~ “soul sunk deep in milk seed clouds”
    ~ enjoyed this read! Thanks

  15. Great sense of peace found in all the French frenzy… We kind of hit the same theme today 🙂 I really like your parentheses about a different story that’s not going to unfold today 😉

  16. you pass in and out of worlds with your travels, catching sunshine and clouds and all kinds of fleeting things.
    you nailed the early morning coffee sensation for me with that last line:)

  17. Very good! Life is about to start, you have me waiting, wanting to know and of course love the cafe au lait. I didn’t put food in mine, just wine. Thanks Claudia!

  18. It is amazing that the French can convey so much to you…even when you don’t have a clue of the meaning of the actual words. 🙂

  19. My Grandparents spoke French around us constantly… especially if they were gossiping. Us kids learned fast by watching and listening and got the gest of what they were saying. Thanks for bringing back such wonderful memories for me!

  20. somewhere on the way to Arcachon
    “old men with baguettes, squished
    in their armpit, le quotidien in hand,
    life is just about to start,
    smells raw and unperfumed
    like Gauloises filterless, legs crossed…

    Bonjour! Claudia…
    What a [very] descriptive poem and…
    You have captured some French people that I know quite well…minus the loud

    & (ReAlly) fast
    seems to be a french thing,
    with gestures & mimic that
    adds layers way beyond DI-
    mensions, so you get the gist,
    even if you don’t know a single word…

    Merci, pour le partage!
    deedee 🙂

  21. Note:
    In France, Bastille Day…it is formally called La Fête Nationale (French pronunciation: [la.fɛɔ’nal] ; The National Celebration) and commonly Le quatorze juillet (French pronunciation: [lə.ka.tɔʁz.ʒɥi’jɛ] ; the fourteenth of July).
    Courtesy Of Wiki…
    Vive La France!

  22. Sometimes it is all you need. 🙂 Your poem really created a short film for me. In black and white …very French. I found it peaceful.

  23. I envy you being so close to the French border! These images that inform your consciousnesd of what being French means on an everyday level might sober my own understanding of them, since most of what I associate with the culture is from books. So your poem gives me something of the taste and grain of the daily French person. It sounds as magical in real life as it does in the poetry. 🙂

  24. Claudia, I absolutely love that ending. You certainly captured the sense of the city and the way they talk 🙂 I’m kinda tapped out, so you can save your visit to me for another day 😉

  25. Mmm, I’m jealous of that cafe au lait…Oh, you capture everything so beautifully, Claudia. The speech, those men with their Gauloises, the shaky chair. I see, hear, smell it all. Thank you.

  26. life is just about to start,
    smells raw and unperfumed
    like Gauloises filterless,

    Morning, having driven all night, almost hot sun, I can see that life is just about to start. I recognize the posture the coffee the men the bread. (I didn’t understand a word of French except the few words I learned as a french player, but I smoked because, because, that’s what we did with coffee.)

  27. I could tell you had a blast throwing in the French sentence in the note 😛 Very nice images with a cinematic feel to them. Reminds me of the delicious baguettes I had in Paris. There are plenty of places selling baguettes in New York, but I’ve yet to find one as delicious as those available in many shops throughout Paris…

  28. Your recipe for living is like french cooking at its most impressive. I had a five ingredient dish – likely cream, onions, cheese, chicken, and fluer de sel which was miraculous. Beautiful!