NPWM Day 23: The Louvre

The Louvre is so filled with masterpieces

that one doesn’t know

whether to feel awe or apathy.

Crowded in amongst Caravaggios and Pugets,

the tourists shuffle inch by inch

to view the masters.

But outside those carved marble halls

are shallow, flat pools

that reflect the facades

of the opulent wings of the building–

Denon, Sully, Richelieu.

Even their names are decadent.

Those mirror pools also reflect

the modern, simple

glass and metal pyramids

that emerge from that sumptuous ground

like progress, like industry.

And though there are riches untold–

oil paintings, sculptures, frescoes–

contained within,

it is the exterior of the Louvre,

those peaceful rippling pools,

the slow cigarette-burn of dusk,

that overrides the senses

and remains vibrant in memory.

Older Now

Lights

 

You grip the steering wheel just a little tighter,

and we plunge into the semi-darkness of the tunnel.

The weight of a mountain presses close around us

as we fling our way through the heart of the earth

at sixty miles an hour

and the lights, beacons spaced evenly in the dark,

flash past.

I close my eyes and imagine

that days and nights are passing by

each time the light washes against my eyelids.

I slip into the stream of time,

a quick succession.

When we emerge from the tunnel,

how much time has passed?

How many days and nights?

I’m older now by far.

NPM: The Handless Watch

Monsieur Cotillier had not always been

the remarkable person of fable.

He was once just a child

By the name of Armand

who slept on the hay in a stable.

 

And little Armand woke up every morning

to care for the cows and the hens.

He’d work through the day,

then lay down and pray,

and sleep to start over again.

 

A less magical life can scarce be imagined.

Armand knew that this was his lot.

Until one day there came

a traveling market

and everything changed on the spot.

 

For after the milking and feeding was done,

Young Armand snuck off to the fair.

He saw trinkets and baubles

straight out of his dreams,

enchantment hung thick in the air.

 

A two headed-lizard spoke sonnets of love,

Cards built themselves up into towers.

And out of a wagon,

a wizened old woman

sold beautiful crystallized flowers.

 

Such blossoms have never been seen on this earth

They delighted and dazzled the boy.

Each perfect cut bloom

so vivid and sharp

filled Armand with ineffable joy.

 

The woman looked up and noticed the child

admiring all of her wares.

“Long have I waited

for you, my dear boy.”

Armand could do nothing but stare.

 

She reached into her shawl and pulled out a chain.

A pocketwatch hung from one end.

“This is for you, child.

Now open it up,

It’s time for your tale to begin.

 

Time and Fate are two faces of the very same coin

Together they bend and are bent.

So why should a watch

tell only the Time,

but not Fate, to a certain extent?”

 

Wide-eyed, Armand took and opened the watch,

and stared into a face without hands,

but he heard a small voice

that spoke right in his ear

and revealed a bit of Future’s plans.

 

“You will travel, Armand, you will see wondrous things.

You’ll face danger, betrayal, and fear.

You’ll know love ever-true

but it is not for you

to spend life with the one you hold dear.

 

And much like this bazaar, from your travels afar,

you’ll collect many wonders exquisite.

People will come to you

for a glimpse of true magic.

Only once in their lives can they visit.

 

So go, dear sweet boy, and don’t lose the joy

you hold in your heart like a flame.

You are destined for greatness,

But never forget

the humble start from whence you came.”

 

When Armand looked up from the watch’s blank face

A shiver ran all down his spine,

for the market was gone

and no sound could be heard

but the whistle of wind in the pines.

NPM: The Clockwork Bird

A fable is told round the nightly campfire

of a nomadic deep-desert clan

Of a magical bird made of wheels, gears, and cogs

And a curious, marvelous man

 

It was years ago now when the man came to stay

after wandering through the white sands

He appeared in a shimmer just like a mirage

Unmistakably from foreign lands

 

He approached their silk tents, executed a bow

and politely inquired of the chief

If he’d heard of a bird made of metal and gems

Or reports of an infamous thief

 

The chief simply refused to speak of the matter

till they each drank three cups of mint tea

The man grinned and nodded, delighted at once

by the tribesman’s hospitality

 

They entered a tent draped with rich printed silks

strewn with pillows of fine filigree

The sweet smell of incense hung thick in the air

As they drank the three cups of their tea

 

The chief cleared his throat and said, “Surely you’ve learned

that I am the one whom you seek.

I’ve known you would come, for my wife is a seer.

And she told me we needed to speak.

 

Yes, I stole the bird from the sultan’s fine palace

thinking only of riches and gain,

but the false bird is cursed and I’ll give it to you,

for it’s brought to me nothing but pain.”

 

The foreign man smiled and sipped his mint tea

and waited a bit to reply.

“I know of the curse. If you’ll give me the bird,

I’ll take it away by and by.”

 

From a chest of acacia carved over with vines,

the chief lifted a bundle wrapped tight.

When he opened the cloth, a bright glint of gold

shimmered in the candlelight.

 

A mechanical bird then perched in his hand

inlaid with fine precious stones.

It stretched out its wings, and whistled a tune

that shook the man down to his bones.

 

From his worn leather pack, the man lifted a cage

of intricate ivory make.

He opened the door, the bird flew inside,

And the chief realized his mistake.

 

The cage was the key to keeping the bird.

Without it, the curse took effect.

The cunning thief-king thought to steal back the bird

and the cage that would keep it in check.

 

His eyes quickly hardened, he reached for his sword;

it was as the strange gentleman feared.

But in the next moment, the man tipped his hat,

took the cage in hand and disappeared.

NPM: Off Rue de la Reine

In a tiny antique shop

Off Rue de la Reine

Which is owned by Monsieur Cotillier

You can find quite a few

Implausible items

and things that just shouldn’t be there

 

A violin without strings

That regardless still sings

the most beautiful notes to be heard

A cage made of ivory

Cunningly wrought

that houses a live clockwork bird

 

A watch lacking hands

that does not tell the time

But tells cryptic secrets instead

And on every hour

it whispers the future

to those willing to hear what is said

 

In the back of the shop

Is a red painted door

that leads to a courtyard of white

At its center, a fountain

That flows after dark

With a liquid resembling starlight

 

Though Monsieur Cotillier

is the strangest of all

In a wonderful, magical way

For he welcomes each patron

as if they were kin

asking if they have somewhere to stay

 

And the charming old man

talks with pride of his shop

and the travels he takes to acquire

The remarkable marvels

His collection contains

And remembers in detail each buyer

 

If a thing strikes your fancy

Monsieur Cotillier

will always implore you to buy

For he knows that a road

May lead on far and fast

And you may not get a second try

 

When your browsing is done

And you’re ready to leave

A sad gleam comes into his eye

And he wishes you well

Clasps hands warmly with you

And murmurs, “Adieu, friend. Goodbye.”

 

If on subsequent trips

to the Rue de la Reine

You return to his shop to drop by

You’ll find nothing more

Than a red painted door,

A courtyard, a fountain run dry

On the Road Again

Tonight I’m getting on a bus with some high-school students to go down to Florida for a week!  I’m helping out as a leader with my church’s annual trip for HS students, called Bible & Beach.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to blog at all while I’m down there, but here’s to hoping!  You guys take care, and if you get a minute, pray for my sanity.  But seriously, and much more importantly, pray for the students and leaders, that we might come to know Jesus more fully.

Versailles

Just thought I’d upload a few of my favorite shots from the gorgeous palace of Versailles.  Click on them to see the full view.  It’s worth it.

The golden gate into the palace courtyard

The Chateau de Versailles (a.k.a. the Palace)

One of the many, MANY painted ceilings in the Palace

The famous Hall of Mirrors. Very impressive.

The view of the grounds.

The fountains are breathtaking when they are running.

The Apollo Fountain, in its full splendor.

The Grand Trianon, the summer palace of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette