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Passions in Poetry

All in a Name.........

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Member Empyrean
since 06-05-99
Posts 26302
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA

0 posted 02-11-2002 10:05 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to Submit your Poem to Passions   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

My fantasy muse seems to be on vacation and I find myself writing about true events in my life. This is one.....
The night was cold and freezing as I watched the snowflakes dance
Down quiet and deserted street in that small town in France.
The gas lamps cast an eerie glow o'er streets now painted white
And not a sound was heard to break the stillness of the night.

Strasbourg is a quaint town, picturesque in every way.
Long avenues wind through the town, botiques along the way.
It's known for many churches, steeples rise majestically
Creating skyline silhouettes no less than heavenly.

I must confess, however, 'twas not churches on my mind
In that delightful city on the west bank of the Rhine
For I was just a soldier at the age of twenty-one
Who liked to visit Strasbourg for some adolescent fun.

I'd made the rounds of smoky bars and after-hours cafes
(A young GI was always welcome way back in those days)
I laughed and joked with locals, drank a bit more than I should
And, by the time night ended, I was feeling rather good.

So there I was, at 2 AM, in my Renault Dauphine...
One of the coldest winter nights that I had ever seen.
The snow came down with vengeance as I slowly drove along
When, suddenly, with little warning,.....there was something wrong!

Looking back, I know now that my fusebox went berzerk.
My heater, wipers, radio and headlights wouldn't work!
The snow came down so wet against the glass I couldn't see
And driving anywhere was an impossibility.

I parked my car against the curb while cursing at my luck
Then held my knees close to me in a make-shift fetal tuck.
I'd have to wait until the dawn got light enough to drive
Assuming, by some miracle, I chanced to be alive!

How long had I crouched in that state of agony? Who knows?
My mind was drifting - I could feel a numbness in my toes.
Unending shivers through me made my body ache with pain....
And then I heard the sound of tapping on the windowpane.

I thought my mind was playing tricks due to my weakened state.
The winter storm was raging and the hour was very late.
No one would surely be outside - the weather was too poor!
'Twas just a dream........and then I heard the tapping sound once more.

I used my hand to wipe away the ice film from the glass
And saw a smiling, pretty face of some young Strasbourg lass,
A lady of the evening selling temporary bliss.
She had to be quite desperate to work a night like this!!

She pointed to a doorway as she motioned with her hand,
Then did it twice, then one time more so I would understand.
She wanted me to follow and, though I am not a prude,
My frozen state of torture didn't have me in the mood!

I gave my head a sideways shake to say I wouldn't go
But she grew more insistent as she stood there in the snow.
I must confess my mind was swayed by thoughts of indoor heat
So, finally, I jumped out and we ran across the street.

The room ws sparsely furnished - bed and table, two small chairs.
I don't think she'd been too successful peddling her wares
But I was grateful for the warmth the heater could provide
And happy I was there instead of in the car outside!

She didn't speak much English and my French was very small
So we could not communicate or say too much at all.
I'm sure I looked an awful mess - that much I could surmise
By all the sympathetic looks I saw there in her eyes.

So there I stood, quite miserable, my hands and feet still numb
While waiting for the proposition I was sure would come
But she just smiled and looked at me, then took my hand, instead
And laid me down, still fully clothed, and tucked me into bed.

I guess I fell asleep the minute that I hit the bed.
When I awoke, in place of darkness, there was light instead.
Bright sun was streaming through the glass - the falling snow was gone..
The streets were paved with diamond-dust that sparkled with the dawn.

I raised my head and saw her sitting on a kitchen chair
With eggs and bacon on two plates with coffee waiting there.
She motioned me to join her and I did so, happily,
Unable to believe this fortune that had come to me!

We couldn't really speak so we just smiled and moved our hands
To speak in ways that only mutes and infants understand.
I rubbed my belly as I licked my lips in ecstacy....
She put her hands together, bowed, and softly said, "Merci".

I then got up and pointed at my watch to let her know
That, though I had enjoyed it, it was time for me to go.
Her smile was understanding as she took the plates away
Then walked me to the door and smiled to speed me on my way.

I took some Franc notes from my pocket, held the money out
But she looked at me stonily, her lips now in a pout.
She closed her hand around mine as she pushed it back to me
Then gently smiled to let me know her kindness had been free.

She put her hand up - "Wait a minute!", this small gesture said
Then turned and grabbed on of the blankets lying on the bed.
She placed it in my hands and ,with what English she had learned,
Told me to bring it back to her whenever I returned.

I felt tears well up at this act of generosity.
A hooker in a small apartment doing this for me!
I learned then not to judge one by the things one might have done
For graciousness and kindness can be found in anyone.

I saw a picture of her on the dresser in a frame...
She saw my glance, removed it, found a pen and signed her name.
She placed the photo in my hand with smile that said it all...
I read the words she'd written...RAPPELEZ-VOUS MOI, Chantal.

So that was that - I drove back home in cold of winter's day.
The blanket she had loaned me kept me warm along the way.
For two weeks I did soldier things until my next break came
And I drove back to see the girl with such a pretty name.

The neighbors said they didn't know why she had up and gone.
"Those kind". said they, "are apt to spend their whole lives moving on."
The room was bare, the bed was stripped, no trace of what had been....
Chantal became a memory I would never see again.

Two years later I got married to a pretty wife.
One year after that a daughter came into my life.
I named her Dominique, the heroine of The Fountainhead
(a book, coincidentially, that she has NEVER read!)

Two years went by when, suddenly, another daughter came.
My wife asked me one evening if I'd come up with a name.
My mind went back to France - one special night there to recall
And, in my mind, I saw her as I gently said "Chantal".

For over thirty years now, there's a gal somewhere in France
Who has a namesake in the states and it is not by chance...
A payment for a favor not forgotten by a guy
Who held the memory dearly though the years went passing by.

I have a little fantasy imagination holds
That I envision happening before I get too old.
I picture that my poetry will bring  me wealth and fame
And many fans around the world will recognize my name.

I picture, there in France, a woman in her seventies,
Hands frail with age and nylons reaching only to her knees.
I see her reading this same poem and see her mind recall
A soldier on a snowy night and know that  SHE'S Chantal.

Of course it's just a fantasy that I'm sure won't occur
But just in case it does, kind readers, this poem is for HER.
RAPPELEZ-VOUS MOI she said to me and I can still recall
That winter's day in France she wrote, REMEMBER ME.......Chantal.
© Copyright 2002 Michael Mack - All Rights Reserved
Mistletoe Angel
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City of Roses

1 posted 02-11-2002 10:13 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel

BRAVO!!! OH MY GOSH, THIS POEM BROGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE, THIS IS FABULOUS!!! (BIG HUGGGSSSSSS) That was so sweet of Chandal to do something so special and nice for you in dire need, and I just know she will never forget you too, for you are a wonderful poet and friend to us all and your company to her was a great act of generosity I'm sure! (sigh) God Bless You, sweet friend, we all love you so much, this is excellent! You have such a beautiful heart, sweet Michael, thank you for sharing!

May love and light always shine upon you!

Noah Eaton
Member Elite
since 06-26-2000
Posts 3219
Blue Heaven

2 posted 02-11-2002 10:16 PM       View Profile for Jamie   Email Jamie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Jamie's Home Page   View IP for Jamie

memories like these make the best poems of all. well done 'deer.

There is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar.

Member Elite
since 08-29-2001
Posts 3003
where insanity meets breeding

3 posted 02-11-2002 10:17 PM       View Profile for Tracey   Email Tracey   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tracey

What an amazing story Michael. I could just picture you freezing, picture the warmth of that room, and the warmth of that woman. How true, we never know where we will find kindness in this world. I do wish she could read this poem…I bet it would make her swell up with pride.

If she who dies with the most toys wins, then can I have some toy boys please?

Senior Member
since 10-12-2001
Posts 525
the earth school

4 posted 02-11-2002 10:20 PM       View Profile for amigo   Email amigo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for amigo

WOW...what a great narrator you are...your words did take me to that place & i want to see ms.Chantal...i do hope she gets to see this, somehow, someday and know it's for her....thank you, Michael dear, for sharing...
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since 02-28-2001
Posts 1262
Dartmouth College

5 posted 02-11-2002 10:21 PM       View Profile for JBaker515   Email JBaker515   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for JBaker515


UNreal...great story!!

This was wonderful.


Larry C
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Member Patricius
since 09-10-2001
Posts 10765
United States

6 posted 02-11-2002 10:21 PM       View Profile for Larry C   Email Larry C   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Larry C's Home Page   View IP for Larry C

That is a wish that ought to come true! We can only hope. Awesome write and delightful memory. I like the lesson in this experience!  

[This message has been edited by Larry C (02-11-2002 11:46 PM).]

Poet deVine
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since 05-26-99
Posts 25869
Hurricane Alley

7 posted 02-11-2002 10:24 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

Amazing is a tame word to describe this poem. It is magnificent!!
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart

8 posted 02-11-2002 10:28 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Only you...could have written this...I was set to expound, but you didn't give the hanky alert, so instead, I must find a tissue...and by the time I come back, the responses will more than have doubled...

you do weave a story so well...
Member Empyrean
since 08-14-2001
Posts 37801
Somewhere in time~

9 posted 02-11-2002 10:29 PM       View Profile for Enchantress   Email Enchantress   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Enchantress

Michael, what an amazing story!!  I wish for her to see this too.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if she could see that this was written for her, and how you have remembered her and her kindness through the years, enough to name a daughter after her?  WOW!
YOU are the master storyteller!!  I love this one...mostly because it is true!  
Thank you Michael for letting us share in your memory of Chantal.
~Hugs, Nancy~

~Love transcends time and space~

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Member Seraphic
since 01-18-2000
Posts 24152
with you

10 posted 02-11-2002 10:41 PM       View Profile for SEA   Email SEA   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for SEA

making me cry is not fair!! I have missed your poetry, I'm happy you are back around this touches so gently
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Member Rara Avis
since 06-03-2000
Posts 9897
The Shores of Alone

11 posted 02-11-2002 11:04 PM       View Profile for catalinamoon   Email catalinamoon   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit catalinamoon's Home Page   View IP for catalinamoon

Oh what a wonderful and well told story. You are able to place the reader right in the middle of it all.
I'm gald to see you back, I was just thinking I had not seen a poem of yours for too long.
doreen peri
Member Rara Avis
since 05-25-99
Posts 8028

12 posted 02-11-2002 11:22 PM       View Profile for doreen peri   Email doreen peri   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for doreen peri

you are the finest writer i know.....

this is wonderful work
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since 05-31-2000
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13 posted 02-11-2002 11:31 PM       View Profile for rosepetals25   Email rosepetals25   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rosepetals25


    It is so nice to see something new from you I can't tell you how much I like this.. you are such an incredible writer. Your words can weave such lovely touching stories.. thank you for sharing


"My heart is like an open book, for the whole world to read"
     - Motley Crue, Home Sweet Home

since 01-06-2002
Posts 96

14 posted 02-12-2002 12:02 AM       View Profile for woodtic   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for woodtic

I'm really tired and my brian is fryed, but I had to read. To take your ride. A lovally trip down memory lane. Better still when it takes others in train. I felt the air and saw the street pictured the room and felt the heat. The warmth a gift and breakfast true. You remember and now we will too.

Thanx for shareing, I think I'll have to read more of your stuff to figure out mine.
Madame Chipmunk
Member Rara Avis
since 12-05-2001
Posts 8552

15 posted 02-12-2002 01:27 AM       View Profile for Madame Chipmunk   Email Madame Chipmunk   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Madame Chipmunk's Home Page   View IP for Madame Chipmunk

An absolutely AMAZING poem, Michael.  You are so good at these story poems.  Does your daughter or even your wife know where you got that name from?
Strasbourg is a beautiful city.  Its the last place that I went on vacation with my first husband before he died.

copyright2002 Lyra Nesius

"poetry is life distilled"  Gwendolyn Brooks

Member Ascendant
since 08-07-2001
Posts 5716

16 posted 02-12-2002 01:54 AM       View Profile for Duncan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Duncan

This is perfectly why I want to be you...should I grow up!
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since 03-07-2001
Posts 19652
British Columbia, Canada

17 posted 02-12-2002 03:38 AM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Et pour votre poésie nous trop nous rappellerons vous, Michael.  

The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes.  
Let the reader catch their own breath."
~Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart~

N orth Carolina Girl
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since 12-04-2001
Posts 984

18 posted 02-12-2002 05:59 AM       View Profile for N orth Carolina Girl   Email N orth Carolina Girl   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for N orth Carolina Girl

Balladeer,his was a wonderful story.I glad she was there to help you on that very cold night.She sounds like a very special lady with a heart of gold.


"always have a smile on your face it makes people wonder what you`re up to:

Kit McCallum
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since 04-30-2000
Posts 16920
Ontario, Canada

19 posted 02-12-2002 07:53 AM       View Profile for Kit McCallum   Email Kit McCallum   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kit McCallum

And this is why you are the "Balladeer" my friend.

Simply and truly, a wonderful weave ... made all the more poignant for the truth and memories behind the words. What a lovely tale. Now if I knew someone over that way ... I'd be advertising this for you, for I can't think of a more wonderful ending that this would bring ... than for your ending to come true. An excellent write, sweet poet. Thanks for starting my day with a smile.

Best wishes,
Member Seraphic
since 05-20-99
Posts 24426
Cape Cod Massachusetts USA

20 posted 02-12-2002 09:11 AM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

Your fantasy muse should take a rest more often, m'deer... because your 'real-life' muse needs to come out more often.  C'est magnifique, indeed...
Member Rara Avis
since 07-29-2000
Posts 9235
Victoria Australia

21 posted 02-12-2002 09:28 AM       View Profile for Kethry   Email Kethry   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kethry

Amazing! It's easy to see you're no tin man.

Here in the midst of my lonely abyss, a single joy I find...your presence in my mind.  Unknown

Seymour Tabin
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since 07-07-99
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Tamarac Fla

22 posted 02-12-2002 09:51 AM       View Profile for Seymour Tabin   Email Seymour Tabin   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Seymour Tabin

Damn Mike I think I'll go back to painting.
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Member Rara Avis
since 07-10-2000
Posts 7542
Maidstone Kent England

23 posted 02-12-2002 09:56 AM       View Profile for Marsha   Email Marsha   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Marsha's Home Page   View IP for Marsha

’Deer dearest heart Oh my stars how utterly utterly wonderful is this write of yours. Utterly utterly one of your utter best.

YOU darling boy are a writer a really fabulous writer I love it.

Truly your writing is wonderful you write so well, scratch that you write brilliantly. Your clarity of expressing feelings, memories and emotion is unique, well-done dear ‘Deer truly excellent writing

Your skill in writing stories, anecdotes whatever is unsurpassed, you are a master craftsman at this, NO ONE does it like you.

I love it love it love it as I said you are a great writer

Love and warm stuff
As always

To give light to them that sit in darkness..... to guide our feet into the way of peace St John ch2 v1

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Member Rara Avis
since 11-06-2000
Posts 8628
Deep in the heart

24 posted 02-12-2002 10:08 AM       View Profile for Interloper   Email Interloper   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Interloper

I enjoyed accompanying you on this walk down memory lane.
Wonderful write!
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