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Carine Topal, a native New Yorker, writes and teaches in Los Angeles, California. She participated in the grassroots organization California Poets in the Schools. Since 1982, she has anthologized the poetry of special needs children. She was a resident poet for the City of Manhattan Beach as well as artist-in residence for Manhattan Beach elementary schools. She has been conducting poetry workshops for adults for over 10 years. Her work has appeared in many journals in both Canada and the U.S. Carine has performed her work on KPFK radio, at the Skirball Museum, Los Angeles County Museum, and the old Venice Jail. She is the recipient of several poetry awards from. In 2004, Carine was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2004, awarded a June residency at Hedgebrook, in Washington State. She also received a fellowship to write in St Petersburg, Russia. Her new manuscript, In the Heavens of Never Before, is making the rounds.

                               -  photograph by Francisco Hidalgo

the metro
she lingers

like vapor in
a floor-
length cape

she carries
remind me

of dust
her arms
painfully crossed

in pockets of
cold, the fogged

the half-moon
behind her
a trinity

of houses
the sound of
taffeta moving

it must be
winter: color of
pearl, bare trees

I think 
it is about
to rain


                                                            -Photograph by Robert Frank

It was Mary 
in the dust 
at 4 a.m.
or if not Mary 
who scribbled 
on the mirrors 
with the ruby red
#2 was it Mary 
with those black 
melon eyes staring 
at your lens or were you
naked holding the 
Hasselblad, whispering 

give me that look

as if you were 
giving it 
to chemical reaction 
right there 
in the Hide-Away Motel 
and Mary, standing 
by the 19” Motorola
one tit bigger 
than the other 
scratching her ass
hissing to you through 
broken teeth,

it’s 4 a.m. make love to me?





                                                                                                          - Edward Steiglitz photo 

Love happens anywhere you find it. This is Paris; I have heard it happens. And in this postcard I send to you, the tree that gives shade beside the lamppost that gives light, strikes me. 

Your eyes are directed down the steps by lampposts and trees quintessentially French because they fit so well into the small earth porticos, like brides and grooms working their way home at 2 am. 

Down the Steps of Montmartre, a single shoe is forgotten in the rush. A signed note smudged with the damp prints fingers leave in the fog of a Paris night, left by a woman who walked down the many brick steps, at say, 2 am, scooping up love's evidence, teary eyed, as if the lover she had always dreamed of but never had, was magically there; here, her shoe, there, his note. A note about light and shadow, love and the physical act of falling. 

His signature declares their destiny and it is just her luck to be there, down the steps of Montmartre. Imagine that someone might have missed this; see, that according to the layout of Paris, a love note, a neglected shoe, is what one would find in a place such as this. In a light filled with fog, down a narrow passage, guided by tidy trees. 

Women are greeted here, to the center of love, to the slender, delicate, shy. To the kiss; the permanent slight fever even after his hand has left the heart.



© 2005 Carine Topol

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