Monday, July 6, 2020

Keats and Yeats are on Your Side - Père-Lachaise

Wikipedia is constantly asking for handouts. At AM we don't ask for charity (give that to animals or St. Jude); instead our funding is tied to the sale of Calif. So here's our Wiki-like appeal: Please help to fund AM by purchasing the novel or Kindle versions of Calif. by clicking on the links in the sidebar. In return, we promise to continue to write an article per day, sometimes more, and to provide your rock lit fix. To quote Morrissey, "Please, please, please..."

Gaia and I enter from the corner by the Père-Lachaise metro station. A cemetery official was there with maps for sale and postcards of Jim's grave. Jim is No. 20. The man is pleasant and speaks English well. He says that he sells few postcards other than Jim's and mentions that on the 100th anniversary of Chopin's death (No. 7), there were no visitors.

I am awestruck by the crypts and tombs like small apartments. We weave our way to our destination ("Jim" painted on the cobbles, and an arrow). As we get closer, my heart pounds with anticipation; will I feel different after completing this journey? Will his karma leap out engulfing me? Someone yells, "It's over here," and finally I lay eyes on a simple grave tucked in-between more stately others.


I count 10 people here. Gaia's offering is a stick of Jasmine incense; a young man writes "POT" in the dirt on the grave. He weeps for several minutes as his parents stand behind, the mother's head buried within his father's shoulder. Minutes later, a young girl from Belgium steps up wearing a DOORS T-shirt. My shirt is brown with yellow graphics that mimic the billboard my father painted for L.A. Woman: Jim on a cross, the crucifix a phone pole. Our shirts bridge the communication gap and we smile, politely. On the grave are two joints, pages of poetry, 3 bouquets of flowers and a can of beer, which is promptly removed by the guard who stands constant watch within a few meters of the site. 

It's odd, the aura. Père-Lachaise is silent but for the birds twittering in the trees and a crow that sits atop the head of Honoré de Balzac. Still there's music in the air. If thoughts were colors you'd see lyrics wafting out the heads of Jim's guests. The aura from my head is yellow, "Break on through to the other side;" an endless stream of "Break on through to the other side." The Belgian girl's is purple. It says, "This is the end, beautiful friend the end." Hers is sadder than mine, the lyrics dripping down like rain.

I look up and Gaia is gone. She is at the grave of Théodore Géricault. In bronze he lies upon his side with a painter's palette, wearing a beret. She's standing there. I take her hand. "Hi." "Hi." There's silence. The lyrics from out of our heads mix and swirl, but Gaia is singing Morrissey: "Meet me at the cemet'ry gate. Keats and Yeats are on your side." We wander the pathways. We reach the metro. She looks at me and says, "Keats and Yeats are on your side." "While Wilde is on mine," I reply, and the metro pulls into the station.  - Edit from Jay and the Americans