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Title: Fountain Street
Author: Francoeur, Jazno
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fountain Street" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Copyright (C) 2000 by Jazno Francoeur, with Robert L. Francoeur.  All rights reserved.

Fountain Street

by Jazno Francoeur
commentary by Robert L. Francoeur

edited by Rush Rankin and Steven McElveen

©2000 by Jazno Francoeur, with Robert L. Francoeur.  All rights reserved.

Published by Nettle Media, P.O. Box 536583, Orlando, FL 32803

ISBN 0967303001

Library of Congress Card Number:  00-190117

Every effective poem has to maintain a state
of tension between assertion and humility, the
mundane and the grand, the specific and the general,
the explicit and the suggestive.
                                     -- Rush Rankin


Part One

        Fountain Street 
        femme inspiratrice 
        the inevitable 
        the spell 
        ice breaking 

Part Two

        the beginning of a scene 
        Locust Street 
        understanding the ancients 

Part Three

         sympathetic magic
        St. Catherine's head
        the first coming
        ipsissima verba
        Camille Paglia
        O felix culpa

Part Four

        the kiss
        lament in three colors
        twelve hours in the future
        one metaphor

Part One


Our life was an accident, the flames were conjured
by an indifferent couple.

So much time has passed, their union
dissipated with the dumb carcass of our home.

This house has been all of our housesÐ
our parents colluded with emptiness to conceal this fact.

We live from cairn to cairn, burning refugee hearts,
each mistake receding in the rear-view mirror,

each incipient disaster breaking the night
like headlights falling on a new city.

Fountain Street

there is a large hand unfolding
above me, discreetly

it conceals a black man
surrounded by a thin tincture of green
like the moon eclipsing the sun

I am to give obeisance to him
and his firm brothers lurking in the gardenÐÐ
they strip me of my childhood casually
with the relative calm of a standard play,
the rising action, apex, and dŽnouementÐÐ

in the formation of sleepwalkers
they withdraw silently into the past


no one can explain why they came
to shape the hidden aquifers of your life,
but it is here, on Fountain Street,
where you first stepped out of the unseen


upstairs, my uncle relived his boyhood,
looking from the garret window
to the tree he had been tied to
and into the corners of the yard
where his impulses formed

he drove us to the pond
by the frozen reservoirÐÐ
my brother became pallid
as animals do when divining pain,
and we clambered out of the cab toward him

we undressed in a snowbank
waiting for him to break the ice--
he circled around, motioning to me

I conjoined with his hammer
poised over the immutable sheen,
though I was only a boy
and could barely anticipate
the future blows of initiation and affection


affection between men
has always been
circumscribed by pain

here, in the balance
between love and brutality
lies the origin of sport,
the first act
of civilization

femme inspiratrice

she waited under the stairs
in the basement where I learned
to feel and see without the advantages of light

she held me tightly to the ground and I complied
with the conspicuous duties
she created for me

I drifted to her daily, down the damp steps
and found a love in her remorse
that I could not find in myself

there she lay in the old air, suspended
in the dark webs under the stairs
whispering to me
when I slept, and pleasing me

the inevitable

a man runs in the rain
toward this small house

the window clouds up from his breath
even though he is a mile away

his silhouette begins to blot out the moon,
beads of water race down the glass

he will exact something from me, I can tell
as he slips down the hill, muscles tensed


it begins in childhood
with an awkward moment
behind the house
then shatters outward, exploding
into adulthood

here one collects fragments
and reconstructs the face
of the large boy who touched you
but the eyes are always missingÐÐ
only the lips remain,
directing you downward


a large dog fills up the backyard,
the children are afraid
to leave the house

each night, the dog inhales
and exhales,
its muscles contract against the walls

the dog's warm breath fills the attic
as its teeth push slowly
through the ceiling

the room dims,
the lining of its black lips
slides gradually over the windows



in the attic, a plank extended
between the crossbeams
over the living room ceiling
to the room built by your father

women followed him there
then departed hours later
down the ladder recessed into the wall

one night his leg
burst through the ceiling
then snaked back through the hole


your mother is busy
in the next room
with her new lover

you watch the changing colors
of your father's injury
as he sleeps on the couch

the spell

my mother used to compel me
with her distance
it was a diffident spell
that made me imagine
we were connected

but the vagaries of haunted girls
look unhealthy in women
and harden into caricature
in old age


I place my ear
against the glass

the cicadas are chirring,
there is a light breeze

a dust cloud forms on the horizon
lit up by headlights

the engine
rumbles closer

gravel knocks against the underbelly,
wheels turn toward my room

a door creaks, a stranger materializes
into mother with each footstep

my body folds
into her long blue coat

ice breaking

I cross the wires where the hairs rest
on the red barbs. Her scent lingers in the air.
My hatchet mirrors the round moon momentarily
as I swing it above me to split the thick sheet of ice.

Behind a tree, she watches
the water rise and collect in a small pocket.
Her hips shift, then she descends
down the white embankment toward me.


there is a corner where I choose to sleep
where the low ceiling slants
and meets above the supports

the walls are porous, I hear your pulse beat
and feel the moisture
gather about your hands

I never see you descend into the ground,
I can only imagine the stillness
of the tunnels, the lack of sound


don't stay too long in Leadville,
move on to the campfire
where we huddled together
like some ancient tribe
learning the power of stories
to stave away the night

tell the story again
but this time remember
that it is only another town
where the blood drying
on the rocks
is your own


the crossbeam creaks
when grandmother cries,
the floorboards muffle
the drunken rage
of her husband

she rocks steadily above him
in the master bedroom
with two generations of boys
in her lap

they are all men now
and each has taken his turn
hauling the sad figure
up the stairs


I have also seen
this inner structure
of ancestral bonds,
each fiber having the color of pain
passing between father and son
and on through to grandsons

I understand that it is whole
that it is pure
that I lose this view when I am in it,
pulling against the weight
of this old man's body
that I am carrying



weve run together for days,
the poles chafing our shoulders--
we've had no choice
but to champion our mother
over the dirt path
toward the stone house

the road is narrowing
as the weeds rush by
snapping in the spokes--
run faster, the wheels are turning
the secret from her
and the sun is scorching our backs


contrary to legend, the brothers
never died from exhaustion
nor from Apollo's quixotic mercy
but they did sleep well for two nights
as their mother rambled on in the dark

they left Delphi crestfallen
and slumped into the harness on the third morning,
glanced at the mumbling woman
and headed back to the farm


looking northwest from the farm
you can see where
in another age
the edge of a glacier
left a row of rocks
arrayed in a frozen line
still marching south.

looking to the east
you can still find the place
where a train of oxen-drawn Conestogas
stopped long enough
for my great-grandmother
to be born.

Part Two

the beginning of a scene

her wan smile rejects you,
around it, the wind occurs--
somewhere else, on another porch
this night is not so particular

tell yourself that nature
has no motives or conceits,
that her hair only suggests
the shape of the wind,
that her eyes do little else
than reflect the heavens

Locust Street

Shadows press into the ground,
the black trees lay flat
against the clouds;
jackdaws arc above the rooftops
then push into the wind
toward the highest branches;
a boy whirls around a tree,
emulating their startled flight,
then ambles toward his brothers by the lake.

One by one, the windows light up
as the elders lean toward the street--
their boys grow in the darkness,
appearing larger in silhouette each year
as they round the corner.


In the rhododendrons, something stirs.
Tar paper shacks on the black slope
lean in the direction of the wind.
The dogs tense and bristle their coats,
their master adjusts his head lamp.

Their orange hair quivers
as they bay into the valley.
A pine tree bends with the weight
of some invisible animal
scaling the branches.

The grass moves at the edge of the field
in waves and small eddies,
then stops, then begins
as the dogs collect their senses
beneath the brush.

The moon passes by a long cloud,
then rolls into the darkness.
The ground shudders,
a constellation of headlamps
defines the body of the forest.


the grey arms
define the impressions
of gravity,

her body
presses into
his suit

like a child
face down
in the sand

but instead
of water pouring
into the mold

imagine space
pushing the cloth
into its grey valleys--

the bottom of the ocean
is lighter than
this room--

the grey arms
reach for

a strand of smoke
slips from a pair of lips,
drifts to the floor

a pearl necklace
falling into
the water

understanding the ancients

An airplane buzzed overhead,
a dozen or so seagulls
pecked around my feet,
a man wearing a turban skated by--
and for one moment
you seemed to converge with all of it.


a woman slips through the long cattails
then pushes off from the bank
towards the center of the pond

she sinks into the water
as her pale suggestion echoes outward
on the edge of the ripples

the stars realign quickly
on the surface of the pond
as if the evening had not been disturbed
by her body, even for a moment


an image on the surface,
a woman's body
piercing through it
only to be swallowed up
by the order of things

should her act
engrave a story on the water
or is it better to pass
through the wind like a bird
leaving no trace
of ever having been here

Part Three

sympathetic magic

America, forgive
this apostrophe, I'm
channeling Whitman--
he says his atoms
are rushing into the veins
of the new revolution,
he's assimilating
into phosphor dots, trying
to form a sincere face,
he's easing through
our labyrinth with a new heart,
pulsing in the cursors
in a remote chatbox on the eve
of the apocalypse--
the future is pixellating
into his beard, he is

a million Trojan horses
are circling the skies--
beware the dark dreams
spinning above you

St. Catherine's head

the church is my reliquary,
a temenos of bronze and glass--
the old men preserved me,
separated my head from my body
then suspended it in the wall--
they don their vestments
in the old sacristy
and sing in the great hall,
bearing the heart of Our Lord
as they pass by my window

of all the secrets
I hold most dear:
the martyrs were perfect
only in death--
each passing was unique,
contrived by their executioners
and made palatable
by the faithful--
even now my fellow saints
peer out from their canvases
and tapestries
with a passivity
that belies their pain


the acolytes stooped over
the smooth ornamental carafes
on the low table

a succoring child blessed my lips,
poured the choice wine
and chanted, sotto voce:

hair of the dog, hair of the dog, hosanna


five toilet paper rolls
on the plunger handle,
a primitive stupa,
a lingam and yoni,
the ithyphallic Siva
sits cross-legged
like me, reading a magazine,
looking at five toilet paper rolls
on the plunger handle

the first coming

Laocošn is still looking up sadly
before his own devouring,
wondering if this immense snake
fell from an emasculated god.

Before antiquity, gods shook
the columns of their temples,
the marble cracking through the clouds
like thunder, a dress rehearsal
before the buggering of Ganymede.

With indolent grins
they allowed the snake to writhe
in a leafy copse,
a tendril rising with the moon
licking at its canopy
until the first woman
could be born.

ipsissima verba

the rough beast does not slouch,
he walks erect while speaking
at small rotary club luncheons
or on late-night public access channels,
expounding on man's dominion over man

he's pudgy and unassuming,
hardly a feral child brimming
with preternatural powers--
yet he's been cultivating his charm
since the advent of sin,
he moves incognito, a grass roots antichrist,
the man behind the man
who never reads Yeats

the world won't end with a whimper,
but with a conference call--
he'll pull over at a rest stop outside Albuquerque
with his wireless remote
to organize the endgame from a bathroom stall

Camille Paglia edits on the beach

first draft--Tuesday, 3:00 p.m., New Smyrna:

The mermaids are swinging
their butt-thonged bottoms
beach to beach,
(do I dare to eat a peach? Ha!)
they can't sense the horror
of the water, the sun,
the leering boys with hard-ons
(jejune.... Òleering priapistic boysÓ sounds more poetic)
who swagger like strangers
with guns, blasting music into the sun,
(Camus reference may be too oblique)
striking poses worthy of Polyclitus.
(remember to look at Praxiteles, just for comparison's sake)

A group of well-oiled girls (yes!)
toss a ball over the net,
a network of tan limbs
and plump suburban insouciance
(connect this somehow to the Marquis de Sade)
thoroughly unaware of the forces
bubbling quietly under my umbrella.
(Òchthonian forcesÓ may be more to the point)

O felix culpa

She will arrive when the last building collapses
     and the corporeal fires flicker into the evening,
when the wind collects bits of ash
     and makes the tips of the blackened fields glow.
She will arrive intemperate and invisible,
     ready to inter her breath in the broken houses of men.

She has been here since words were realized
     and gods were employed to enforce them,
holding the course of temples and water,
     steadying the trees as they gripped the earth
with their knotted hands,
     sleeping in the white sails of man's first conquest.


Something waits to take control
of buildings, bodies:

Trishna no longer disguised,
nature red in tooth and claw.

Now we know the reason for metaphysics:
the holy trophy wrapped between the sheets was a virgin.

Part Four


I am a liar,
you circle me
twice, I am
about to tell you
how guilty I am

I want you
to be someone else,
to tell me this desire
is original

we cannot otherwise
part, the flashing lights
occasionally reveal
the impressions
I was born with

I'll cut to the quick:
the lights are coming on
and I'm afraid I won't
love you then

the kiss

your ebony cats glide toward us in tandem--
you part your hair and lean over me
on my side of the bed

we kiss, but I'm almost afraid to touch you,
the truth may speak itself unwittingly
as I draw the sheet taut
against the length of my body


the body ferries your spirit,
disconnected as a dream
from its birthing place

the space beyond the womb
is untenable, every moment
accrues strangely into age
as touch is slowly relieved from you

lament in three colors

when my heart becomes as vivid
as your apples and geraniums
you must promise to paint it--
the north light will pour through the window
into my palms, and be gone


the blinds divide
the blue sun,
your blond hairs glisten
on your uncovered leg

light bends around us
like fabric--
at breakfast I explain:
the peculiarities of light,
our bodies mapped
perfectly by chance


just over that dune,
that's where you'll meet her,
she'll have fair skin
and will be sunning by the shore

the edge of the ocean will tangent
the brim of her hat,
you'll make some abstruse comment,
how it flattens space
and makes it appear
she and the water are touching

twelve hours in the future

you drink sake
and walk down white roads
too small to contain
your ambition

the moon is remote,
drifting through the branches,
the thing in itself
unaware of the man
yelling at it


     The spilled wine spreads to the edge of my napkin
over the course of our dinner.  After the second bottle,
     I confess that my wife has thirteen ribs.
     On the third bottle, we compare traumas.
The gay waiter interrupts
with the indifference of a Greek chorus:
     'our most popular sin is the chocolate soufflŽ'.
     An hour later, my red napkin could pass
for a thin sheet of venison tartar.
The waiter pours two flutes of Kir Royal
     then impatiently stacks the chairs behind us.
     You lean back as if you were Isaac
anticipating his father's judgement
and we are both in that drunken, beatific state
     that makes any room sacred.

one metaphor

twenty winters from now
you'll still be divining
profundities from copulation
and I'll still be mining
my family secrets
for that one metaphor
that will inexplicably
explain my childhood

there's so little poetry in the reality
that we can't write our failings
into a good life, or be thankful
our compulsions move us
any closer toward truth

in Japan, a bird alights on a branch
outside your window
and inspires a hundred tankas
or it simply wings
over your house, unnoticed

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fountain Street" ***

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