Poets

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Gabrielle Civil

Gabrielle Civil is the author of the performance art memoirs Swallow the Fish (2017) and Experiments in Joy (2019), both published by Civil Coping Mechanisms. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, she teaches creative writing and critical studies at California Institute of the Arts and lives in Glendale, California.

By This Poet

1

19th Birthday in Paris

The crown of it was fire: 
a stolen wish, this city
of bridges valving the heart,
ancient and scarred, tongues
of stone, this haughty sister,
matronly and jeweled, who
straightened her skirts,
looked me down in the eye.
Girl, are you sure 
you’re ready to rise?
Question mark of candles,
waiting for breath.
 
This vision, a pistil
of wavery bloom, a man
before me, the first refused:
a bite off our plates,
an outdoor café, the
privilege to witness
him, fierce and poor,
thrust forth his heart,
douse his body with oil,
purse his lips and blow out
tongues of flame. Utterance
of desire and gasoline,
a presage of future, some of it
mine. In the distance,
iron stippled with light.