Karen Greenbaum Maya & Judith Terzi

Our starting point was a black-and-white photo of the Eiffel Tower in winter that hangs on a wall in the coffee house in San Dimas where we meet every other week. We had never noticed the photo before. We both speak French and have each been to Paris many times, an advantage in working with the photo. We decided to use as many words as possible containing our initials, J and K, and to include one proverb anywhere in the text. We did a free-write first and then did a revision (and then another) as we each built on the other's structure and words. Our proverbs were thematically related, which surprised us. We were also surprised that our assembled stanzas segued so smoothly into each other.





Dada in San Dimas  
Ceci n’est pas une pipe.
                           -- René Magritte
It's winter in Paris.
There are no kayaks.
The back of the Eiffel Tower is just like the front;
the front is just like the back.
It isn't June; it's January.
There are no jonquils in January.
Sharks lurk below the snow.  And jewels.
The sharks contain Nicolas Sarkozy's secrets.
The jewels are Carla Bruni's, or Mick Jagger’s.
We could hack the snow with a jigsaw,
but it's best to wait for the equinox.
It's winter in Paris.
The Tour Eiffel is feathered with snow as white as milk.
It’s no Kilimanjaro, whose jutting crown
has been hijacked by too many kilojoules.
The Tour is hard on the knee joints,
more so if most of your gymnastics
has been jousting with knives in the kitchen.
Don’t even think of jumping off in a grand jeté—
you’d be diced to crackerjacks by the steel grids.
It's winter in Paris.
The Tour Eiffel is no Eiffel Tower.
Karen made a kite and launched it into the sky.
She's cooking shark soup.  She hates shark,
keeps saying: "L'appétit vient en mangeant."
Jacques is sleeping. Are you sleeping Jacques?
Brother, he's not sleeping but kissing Karen
like the black and white Doisneau photograph.
Black and white.
Black and white kisses in Paris.
Not like in a Klimt.
Not like Mick Jagger's kisses.
But maybe like Sarkozy's.
In winter in Paris,
black-and-white photos are too easy.
Every Jacques is wearing black.
Teeth click in the wet cold
until you’d welcome lockjaw.
Pigeons here are no jackdaws,
and the view from the mountain’s top is very beautiful,
as every photo junkie knows.
The damp cold cuts through jackets.
The Eiffel Tower is feathered with snow.
In Paris, no damp cold can kill the joy of standing
in the city built on a human scale.
It’s winter in Paris.


Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Claremont, California.  In another life, she majored in German Lit so she could read poetry for credit.  Her poems and photos have appeared in Poemeleon, Off the Coast, qarrtsiluni, The Dirty Napkin, San Diego Cityworks Press 2009 (Hunger and Thirst), Umbrella Journal, New Verse News, and Lilliput Review.   She was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize.

Judith Terzi lives in Southern California where she taught high school French and college English for many years. Her poetry has been widely published in print and on-line. She was a runner-up in the 2009 Alehouse Press Happy Hour Awards. Her chapbook, The Road to Oxnard, was a Finalist of Note in the 2009 Pudding House Chapbook Competition and will be published in 2010. Poems are forthcoming in Aries, Qarrtsiluni, HazMat Review, and Red Rock Review.