Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chanel No. 5 (A revision)

"Mr. Farrow, Raising the Masts of his model of the 'tommy Campble a fine big Ship one of the best that I ever saild in out of Grimsby,'” 2015, by The Litus Gallery

Chanel No. 5

Weird Ohio is littered with worldly names:
Mesopotamia, Macedonia, Lima,

London, Toledo, Geneva. This state
gets around, or Ohioans do. I think of Shanelle

who I worked with at the coffee shop
in college, collecting love like passport stamps.

I like her. She knows how to make every drink
on the menu. She knows the area.

I ask her, How far to Mantua? Shanelle cracks up.
No, say it like this: Manaway. My ex-fiancé

lives there.
Holland, East Palestine, Lebanon,
Troy, Versailles. Ohioans palm a globe, spin it,

let it fall and bounce, and choose a name.
Here is how we take for our own what is foreign

that we might learn from it, might make
ourselves larger or more lush, a wedding ring

we slip on. Shanelle’s folks shared this fondness
for exotic trade. When I ask her the story

of her name, she tells me her parents
rushed the wedding when her mother

began to show, and on honeymoon
somewhere in Ohio, her dad heard an ad

for Chanel No. 5. Sounds French, he said,
a name for an explorer, opening like a sail.

[Image via The Litus Gallery]


  1. Very clean and vivid poem, with your characteristic wide-eyed humor. I myself was born in Mariemont, which also sounds French, and apparently has the last town cryer in America. Love the art too, makes the whole thing seem both real and imaginary, kind of like my recollection of Ohio.

  2. Thanks so much, Bill! Mariemont totally fits into the club. Isn't this artist just terrific?


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