Opening Day on the Champs Elysees; a poem for Karl Lindholm

My friend, Karl, writes he’s sitting outside
with a jacket on at a cafe on the Champs
Elysees. Thinking of himself as Hemingway.
Imagining the words that strolled that street,
that Victory walked through its arches.
Karl speaks a Maine French that goes a long way
wherever he is. Which is everywhere
a city needs a friend to stop one of its citizens
to chat. Karl is well-known at home for chatting
all morning and afternoon, standing in front
of Sama’s Middlebury Cafe. With the Globe
under his arm, with nothing more important to do
than standing there with you. Talking baseball
or a sentence he read he wanted to make sure
you would remember to read at home, listening
to a game, trying your hand at writing in your own
voice. Which for Karl is somewhere between
Paris and Lewiston. A mill town with a gym
where Sonny Liston, Clay’s fish, went down
in the armory, taking a fall it was reported.
Almost starting a war between the promoters
and the fans shouting untranslatable things.
Words and a scene Hemingway would have loved
to live and compose in his bruised short sentences,
he would have wanted us. I can’t avoid saying, to drink in.
We are lucky to have Karl sitting there for us, talking
with a new stranger about the avenue, the girls’ spring
chapeaus, the season beginning again. What he’ll have
to tell us when he comes home on opening day.
— Gary Margolis, Cornwall

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