At 3 a.m.

This poem is a departure for me. I found myself channeling Hemingway after reading for the third or fourth time A Moveable Feast — perhaps the best and least known guidebook for Paris. My thanks to Scot at Rusty Truck for publishing it this week.

At 3 a.m.
after one more day
without words, Paris
takes you in like a whore,
not surprised you’re back
for another fuck in the dark.
November. Brittle rain
scrapes the bone.
You walk the sheen of cobbles
to the Seine, where bodies,
freshly guillotined, once floated,
heads left behind in baskets,
past the great cathedral, gargoyled,
buttressed, to the boîte
on St. Louis where absinthe
and jazz make love, and a girl
comes to rub against you
like she knows your name.

– Sarah Russell
first published in Rusty Truck
Photo by Nicolas Vigier

41 thoughts on “At 3 a.m.

    1. Thanks, Sherry. I wondered if it was too “rough” to post for Poetry Pantry, then decided folks could just ignore it if they wanted to. I did put up a disclaimer though. Unusual for me.


    1. Thanks a lot, Kim. When I was 19 and lived in Paris for a year, the rain was so, so cold. And there was an after hours club on Ile St. Louis where you had to know someone to get in. Very cool and probably against the law. It was a heady experience for a midwestern girl!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. All I can say is, anyone who considers this work of art too rough is a true snowflake. This was excellent. It reminds me of times I have walked about at night in Paris and London. The gritty feeling, ” Brittle rain
    scrapes the bone”…wonderful!


  2. Well channelled! I never got to Paris (with the warm wind in my hair … or even the brittle rain) so thank you for taking me there, in one of its moods not so often recorded.

    As for being “too rough” – we’re poets; we have no fear of language!


  3. Paris
    takes you in like a whore,
    not surprised you’re back
    for another fuck in the dark… fabulous analogy…loved it! I can’t think of Paris any other way now!


    1. The Paris most tourists see and the Paris I found living there are very different. I’ve always thought that Paris embraces you, but she is a fickle, sometimes rough lover. This is the dark side of the City of Lights. Thanks for reading and commenting, Rajani.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. oh, i loved the mood and ambience of this poem. slightly dangerous, very noir, what 3 a.m. in a city should be.
    congrats on the poem being published. it should be. 🙂


  5. I don’t think it’s rough. I would say it’s bold and channels Hemingway perfectly. You took a chance to do something different, good for you. Never been to Paris. You took me there briefly with your powerful imagery.


  6. Fantastic! Every word. I’ll be in Paris briefly this summer and have that fear of “no words.” So dreamlike.


    1. Thanks, Colleen. Enjoy every minute! Last year we stayed in Le Marais on the right bank very near Notre Dame. It was ideal. Lots of cool restaurants and walking distance to nearly everything. If you have a chance, read The Moveable Feast before you go and take it with you. You can trace Hemingway’s life in Paris, visit his favorite cafe, walk with him in the Luxembourg Gardens. Truly a feast!


  7. Sarah you are an astounding poet or and these visceral images of sex and death are freshly spoken – Hemingway would admire the way you resist the adjective!


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