Paris in the Afterlife 

In my dream
I am always in Paris
just as the undergarments of her city 
slip slowly from view    Here  
the smoke is violet and thick with steam 
rising from lovers partings
on railroad platforms and under moonlit bridges  
To the left and right 
her voluptuous pillows–soft and yielding…
straight ahead–her rod-iron cathedrals
pointing where I do not know

Already my balcony sighs I will wait for you
as I pack up this day in my invisible suitcase 
(an overnite bag)
and set off into the mysterious fog
with only my breathless wonder 
to vanish into Memory’s landscape
like a train through a tunnel

   are always on time
   are so obliging   seductive
   do not question why you leave
   where you are from
invite you
   to cross the frontier
   the dotted line 
   of reality and illusion
permit you
   to paint unframed
   what you cannot see

With our feet planted firmly on the sky
we are all Impressionists here
Surrealists  too
making our way into the canvas–a floating island–
the soul of Creation
just waiting to be reborn

With each first brushstroke I take
the dark syllables of night
find their shape and form
translating me into a new language
My consonants   once flat and bone-dry
vibrate now with pink flesh-toned vowels–
sound with new color and meaning
though  they too  will slip from view
With each first breath I take 
I am becoming who I am 
more of who I wish to be
One moment– a single leaf blessed by the sun
Another–the rain with such small hands 
                                                                rowing to God
Nothing goes so well with Everything, I say
as I squeeze this  too  onto the palette–
a silent scream in surround sound
coming to a cinematheque near you

In my dream
I am always coming to you–
coming becoming overflowing with desire–
my breasts brimming with sweet cream
in buckets of champagne–
the white napkins and handkerchiefs waving
in train stations   on boats of departure
springs of arrival   atop staircase landings
in between sentences
returning home    by way of expectation

What is Paris if not to expect?–
if not to dream of her to want and wish for
an experience that takes you beyond
the borders of your own imagination–
the landlady 
who wore mops on her feet
and skated down the corridor to keep the floors clean
the neighbor  who had his cat stuffed
so he could rest in peace in the storefront window
the lover who landed in the mental ward of Hotel de Dieu
who escaped in his pyjamas one night in the rain
who was dragged from the entrance of Saint Julien le Pauvre
who stood on the bridge and jumped into the Seine

Every night I bury the dead
and keep the dream alive
In my dream I expect you are always
more than a little mad
In my dream you are beautiful and eternal
like Paris   like the Light
which pours through my skylight just now
which sits waiting on the balcony waiting
In my dream
I am always you waiting for me waiting for you
I am coming I am coming I whisper
to all my lovely ghosts 
In my dream you are Paris
and Always

Antonia Alexandra Klimenko was first introduced on the BBC and to the literary world by the legendary James Meary Tambimuttu of Poetry London–-publisher of T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thoma, Henry Miller and Bob Dylan, to name a few. After his death, it was his friend, the late great Kathleen Raine, who took an interest in her writing and encouraged her to publish. Although her manuscript was orphaned upon “Tambi” s passing, her poems and correspondence have been included in his Special Collections at Northwestern University. A former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion, Klimenko is widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (in which she represents France)The Poet’s Quest for God Anthology,  Occupy Poets’ Anthology (in which she is distinguished as an American Poet),and Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the recipient of two grants:  one from Poets in Need, of which Michael (100 Thousand Poets for Change) Rothenberg is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Josheph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence. Her collages have been exhibited in galleries, the DIFFA (Design Industry Foundation for Aids) Showhouse in San Francisco and featured in Home and Garden Magazine.

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