Meanders Of The Garonne Marcin Czarnecki
Dedicated to them
Meanders Of The Garonne is a book of poetry written for three months from September to November in Toulouse. Technically, the poems are characterized by word plays, metaphors and rhymes, and create one, 36-page story. Thus, they contain elements of rap and storytelling, so can be called ‘syncretic poetry’ (at least that is what Google says). Action of Meanders takes places in Toulouse, France, the story travels to Paris and Milan for a while as well. The 12-poem core (with the 13th piece as a bridge between the plot and the future) is rather dark, talking about inequalities in the present world, social and political problems or modern habits of the younger generation. It is an in-depth journey into the human soul shaped by the outside, with all thoughts and emotions reflected in things seen around. Notamment: it is also about France. Topics tend to appear in a (chrono)logical order, so they are all part of a bigger picture. The official version of the instalment was released independently on the 1st of December. It is being sent to the media, publicists and competitions in Poland, waiting for its French translation as well. Take a deep breath and dive into the depths of the Garonne…
Numbers +331. Russet Sky +332. We Don’t See The East +333. A Party In The Church +334. In The Meander Of The Garonne +335. ******* in Paris +336. Colourful Bracelet +337. Sang Jacques +338. Who? +489. Poland +3310. Oh, Eugène... +3311. Mai Wanjuan +3312. We Took To The West (Epilogue) --------+3313. Embrasement (Are You An Artist?)
+331. Russet Sky (double meaning: ‘russet’ means ‘rusty’ in Polish)
1st page. The colour of the sky symbolizes an incoming catastrophe, a storm. Blood might have been spilled as ‘rusty’ evokes the memory of (over)used weapons (the metal subjected to corrosion): The Garonne is flowing by like the best times
These sirens again I’m caged in four walls, checking the windows if it’s safe outside. Just a few gun magazines managed to shut the whole France. Look how all the peace and tractates can be destroyed just by one outburst of hatred: All the treaties got wiped out and ran down with the giggling river
I wake up in sweat Wake up dizzy and I’m checking the sky Going back to bed with confidence, a mere hope of seeing the stars again
2nd page. I wake up pissed off, cause I could’ve got sent off so easily. The whole media propaganda shows us a manipulated view of the world. People would believe any image they see, so when a terrorist attack happens, everyone is in panic. They would believe France is a dangerous country to live in, having seen a random shooter on the TV. Statistically, nothing can harm us at all: From the inside, the devil seems not that scary
+332. We Can’t See The East (adding the word in the parenthesis in my maternal language, it also means ‘We Hate The East; ‘east’ means ‘sunrise’ as well)
Carrying on the topic from Russet Sky. After the Toulouse seems ‘ceteris paribus’ Then happens a story from the 30th of August on Saint-Pierre where was allegedly a bomb uncovered. The gossip spread that lots of young people believed in it, some even left the place ‘just in case’. It confirms how we’re dependent on others’ behaviour, on the Psychologie des foules. Reveals that in depths of our responsible minds there is a ‘button of panic’ – one click and there we go. Some people can get into it so much they start to believe everything bad is caused by one group of people, in this case Arabic and West-African Muslim immigrants. That’s partly how xenophobia and racism are created.
While seeing an OM-t-shirt guy in the metro acting surreptitiously, even I am suspicious what he’s up to: What hideous flowers he’s bought, what’s he hiding here? Is it their calix or some drugs smelling so intensively? I’m also pondering who am I to blame people around, overlooking my own sins: Am I a refuge, tourist or a student here? – I ponder.
In the end I’m even expressing angrily that we hate the West (in Polish ‘west’ means ‘sundown’), woken up by the sirens yet before the sunrise. Then comes a comparison of former immigrants with the European-roots French. The former tend to be blamed for the attacks by some ignorant people (Marine Le Pen?), which makes them feel like the worse kind. The social gap is the reality, there’s a huge economic difference between these two parts of the citizens: Les quartiers treated like exclaves… Running along the line of blocks, I think I’m hearing: ‘Where’s the exit?!’
A Party In The Church
(Western Europe is in a process of secularization, so certain churches are being used for other purposes – holding night parties as well)
Although I stopped believing in God in February, I’m still wondering, if it’s legit to drink in such a sacred place as church. The poem is a stream of my live thoughts as I participated in such an event in October.
I’m in tears On the dance floor Happy faces all around, even a few nuns and a priest dancing, so should be okay: But above them I see a sculpture of St. Mary, raising her hand DJ/Priest is standing on the altar, leading the event, making symbolic gestures. People are raising their hands in an almost religious ecstasy, as if they’re connecting with the God: The bass is bouncing at the medieval walls like organs…
Suddenly, I realized it’s a good metaphor of my soul. There’s no God inside and I’ve no idea, if I’m filled with spirituality or not: I’m like France, but I don’t hold parties at mine and I still don’t know, if we can be here In these tears in the middle of the dance floor
+334. In The Meander Of The Garonne (in Polish it also means ‘in the circle’ – a few metaphors related to this shape)
1. The themes of loneliness and emptiness are going on: I’m sitting at the banks, with the Garonne squeezing my neck Trying to find myself, trying to catch myself
It’s hard to maintain relationships with friends and relatives left far away: Hah, and you were to write me a letter! At the address: The Meander Of The Garonne But I’m feeling like at the end of the world
2. The second verse is ‘a stream of consciousness’ containing many different yet related thoughts, which builds up a logical continuation.
I’m 20 and writing me a noose (in Polish ‘a loop’ as well, so it’s like a vicious circle or a feeling of routine, a constant déjà-vu; also a follow-up to a famous Polish poet, Tadeusz Różewicz, who once wrote: I’m 25 and…) Colourful dreams have been visiting me for two years, but since I came here they’ve stopped In my head the third cross (in Polish ‘a cross’ means also ‘a decade’) I fell down carrying it (like Jesus) So I descended in February (a follow-up to the previous poem) Then I’m continuing with thoughts about the time: We don’t grow up, but our fears (a follow-up to Isaiah Rashaad’s 4r Da Squaw)
The time is running up, but we’re not moving, tied to our family and duties Controlled by cards and cars (materialistic things) by the world we wanted to change at a time…
Finally, I’m focusing on the so-called Third World. We’re occupied with our FirstWorld problems without noticing what’s happening beneath us. Beneath has two layers here: beggars, homeless often lying on the streets and looked down on, or the southern hemisphere where most of the poverty and human tragedy exists. Thus, I’m rounding it off with a statement that I don’t want any presents for Christmas, cause I’ve got everything needed to live happily: Dear Santa, write me a few honest letters and send all the money to Rwanda
3. Suddenly I started dreaming a vision: Trapped in a golden cage (…) Seeing the red river flowing beneath The russet sky crowded by fairy tales And the rusty walls (of the ghetto) flocked with facts We see only the small obstacles bothering us without regard to the ones in need
I came to realise we didn’t have any real boundaries in our lives, so it’s time to ‘get out of ourselves’ and see other people’s problems: Cause you don’t live in the meander (or in ‘a vicious circle’) but on its top
+335. ******* In Paris (the topic of inequality is on with me and my friends going along Les ChampsElysées)
In a backstreet we encounter a homeless lying on the ground and begging for money – we don’t notice him though.
The second verse is an analysis of ‘the race of races’: with Western World stagnating, Asia surpassing it and Africa still on the backseat. The tone of skin shouldn’t be important at all, however inequalities are still profound. ‘The Holy Grail’, so the money, is flawed too: why do we value each other on this basis? We’re racing over dead bodies but the purpose disappeared like the starving souls
Another homeless man waves with an empty hat to us: We’re stepping over this filthy corps (…) We won’t notice Unless they poison our water
+336. Colourful Bracelet (Piaza del Duomo, Milan. A real dialogue with a man from Senegal selling bracelets to the tourists)
My family died of hunger
And we burst into tears.
+337. Sang Jacques (‘saint’ comes from ‘sang’, so ‘blood’; ‘Jacques’ – a name of French peasants)
1. While visiting French galleries, I’m in awe with all those magnificent paintings – by artists originated from the ‘upper-class’ though and had an easy way to create I’m on the verge of crying Mainly the aristocracy is portrayed, another ‘elite’ group of people. Both the former and latter are remembered by the history for the eternity… I’m on the verge of crying, cause I see red
2. I see red on their hands, ruby chicks, white robes and grain under their shoes The vast majority of people, the so-called lower-class is not remembered by anyone, although they have the toughest and shortest life. Huge talents are wasted, because they cannot break the glass ceiling. Whenever we praise a great ruler or artist we ought to acknowledge they had a way-easier life to achieve their goals and come from the peasants too.
+338. Who? (Germans and Russians killed 6.000.000 Poles during the second world war)
The statement is diminishing with every verse, slowly losing its message. It’s so easy to forget the history, which can be re-written a 6.000.000 times. In this case everything’s clear, Germans said sorry and we’re getting along really well now. We shouldn’t treat them worse because of their ancestors’ faults. However, in the media the nationalities are rarely mentioned, like ‘it was the Nazis, Soviets, not us!’ No need to worry too much about this particular, but it’s a significant symbol.
+339. Poland (here ‘pół’ means ‘half’ and ‘-ska’ is a typical Polish surname, vide: ‘Czarnecki’)
From Lodz (my city) I couldn’t see Poland Cause you cannot look into your own eyes
Hook. I’m a human, I’m a Pole Who more if during a war I’ll have to declare?
1. Despite good conjuncture in my country I’m not sure, whether the hossa is going to last forever. That’s our Polish thing by the way – we like to complain. Then I compare living in just one place to all the benefits you have with international surroundings, among various cultures. Interestingly, I mention here what a peace sign means in the UK, how Chinese are not used to shaking hands, then I’m trying to pronounce tricky Scottish and Irish names… It teaches you respect and underlines how diverse we are. In the end, I’m confessing to not thinking too much about my homeland lately: I only recall my memories looking at the passport, on the airport
2. Poland is in the middle of everything: Europe, economy, sport, climate, war… A really universal country, so I’m struggling to say what is so special about us. E.g. Australia and Norway are widely recognised, I’m praising PR of the former and GDP of the latter. Then again, you’d be more delighted hearing ‘Germany’ than ‘Poland’. Also, we hear some bullshit about our countries from time to time, in this case a Peruvian girl said something (no harm done!). Say Poland is better than France – now I’m thinking how to argument this hypothetical statement. What can make our symbol?
Difficult language, beautiful women and cultural legacy Write your own, cause I don’t know… Funnily, an English lecturer coming from Zimbabwe summarises: You’re from such an exotic country! – he might be right
3. I still can’t stomach we used our cavalry against their tanks – during the second world war; a symbol of brave (and naive) Polish hearts. I’m complaining on our love to argue while ruling and consolidate only while being ruled over. Currently, the nation is divided over the liberal and conservative approach to life. I’m struggling… But I guess I’ll take a Ryanair to Modlin before Christmas [one of Warsaw’s airports] Cause I love Poland
+3310. Oh, Eugène... (no one except French would realise it’s a masculine name, so it can be a hidden message about, yet hidden, gay rights)
Hook. Eugène talking to himself or a girl asking him these symbolic questions: Are you single? Do you wanna f*ck? And he’s not sure – about both
1. I’m making fun of girls in clubs pretending to be ‘queens’ while: Being the hybrid of Amelie and REC (movie analogy: an innocent girl with a zombie).Other significant quotes: Singles are better than albums
Love? Only free The classic one is so outdated...
2. I’m under the emotional siege, call me Baczyński (a legendary Polish poet, an equivalent of Rimbaud in France; ‘emotional siege’ because of all these occasions for sex in clubs – the morale is struggling) Now I’m talking about boys whose only aim is to f*ck the Amelie-zombie girls in the club, have a one-night adventure. Another misinterpreted meaning of love.
To be clear, I can’t judge if it’s good or bad, I’m just voicing my surprise.
+3311. Mai Wanjuan (…)
+3312. We Took To The West (Epilogue) (France has the best culture in the world; coming from another heavy-weight culture I reluctantly admit it)
The theme from We Don’t See The East is to be closed1: I’m commenting on how immigrants are ignored, then isolated, so slowly les quartiers are being created: Who’s to pay for all this hatred? – I’m wondering Who’s to pay? Also, Western Europe is economically stagnating partly because of its social welfare – paid off from the younger generation. But who’s to pay for this…
Poems come in doubles or trios: Who? with Poland, Oh, Eugène… with Main Wanjuan, or ******* In Paris with Colourful Bracelet and Sang Jacques, Russet Sky with We Don’t See the East and We Took To The West (Epilogue)
On my way home I spot an African girl with a bouquet of colourful, fragrant flowers – probably a present from the man from We Don’t See The East…
… that’s how the story ends, which may’ve lasted either a day or a semester. The girl looks at me, smiling: She must’ve realized I’m not from here She must’ve realized I’m from here (x3)
+3313. Embrasement (Are You An Artist?) (the name of a painting bought in Galerie de l’Echarpe in November; ‘embraser’ means ‘to kiss’)
It’s not in the exact story, but ‘the outro’s outro’, a bridge between Meanders and the future. Finally, a poem full of young esprit, the only positive piece in the collection. It shows where we should aim in our lives: I wouldn’t have dreamt yesterday The glass ceiling is breaking like the tomb’s plate
1. Invited to the gallery by Mme Dufaur-Mourens (the author of the third painting in my book) I’m feeling shy and odd – with all the recognised, French-speaking painters around: Vous êtes un Artiste ? My tongue is doing me a gastroscopy – Cause I’m not sure how to respond…
2. (Something’s happened I don’t mention) Then I felt ‘Embrasement’ coming into me
3. Suddenly, I acknowledged that yes, I am an artist. And you are an Artist too: Look how the grain (analogy to Sang Jacques) is growing and shining red … and the only person walking out of the gallery with a painting (Embrasement, of course!) is a not-that-rich and not-that-fluent-in-French youngster. It’s funny how stunned the people around were…
4. The glass ceiling is breaking under my feet The glass orb is breaking under my words The broken jar is revealing my dreams (analogy to the Pandora’s box) The winter is coming But in the ville rose there’s still the ‘golden fall’ Moi, I’m just embracing my dark lenses Cause the sun beams are shining from me like eyelashes The sun beams are shining from me like eyelashes The sun beams are shining from me like eyelashes
Merci The Meanders are dedicated to all the 20-years old from the ghetto, not able to write their own poems. Among you are better poets than me
Thanks for the inspiration: A Tribe Called Quest, The Game, Paul Gauguin, Pusha T, Vixen, Bisz, Agata Christie, Tadeusz Różewicz, Frank Ocean, Władysław Strzemiński, Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński, Hocus Pocus * Thanks to all the painters who decided to honour my poems with their works. Especially to Lise Dufaur-Mourens, for faith and future artistic exchange, and Muriel Bo, for Monde flottant and adding Meanders to her exposition in Le Blue Teapot. Merci beaucoup ! * Thanks to Marcin Czarnecki for realising his vision with no help from any side * To My Loved Ones, I’ll thank you as soon as I’m home.
The story portrayed in a flat no 110, 25 Rue du Printemps