American Accent, Pixie Haircut: Instructions for a Translation of New York to Paris, via The Herald Tribune

by Arielle Greenberg

When out of the city, shoot at the country sun out the window of a Ford.

Return to the city, having killed a man.

More cigarette smoke in the face. Or less. Equal number of harbors at night. More carburetors.

Check your thumbed-mouth gesture in every mirror.

Have recreational sex. Sleep around. Talk openly about sleeping around.

Study Bogart.

Repeatedly ask for the definitions of the French slang and idioms. Note how all the figures of speech center around violence.

Tell her you hate the city; tell her you’re sick of the city.

When a stranger dies on the black & white street, nudge him with your shoe.

Mostly, lie around the tiny apartment decorated with cheap posters of Picasso and don’t go out.

Glide down the Champs all mirror-lit, the globe streetlamps aglow mysterious and at once.

Find a famous puffy novelist and shout press conference questions at him about the soul.

When shot at by the cops, jazz clarinet the melodrama down the street as far as you can go. Be followed by a girl in white pumps.

Go see a Western.

You want to be an action mystery thriller, but don’t stop talking about fear and Faulkner and fucking. Don’t answer any of your lover’s direct questions.

Look in the mirror again instead.


Arielle Greenberg is the Resident Poet at Bright Wall/Dark Room. She is the co-author of Home/Birth: A Poemic; author of My Kafka Century and Given; and co-editor of three anthologies, including Gurlesque. She lives in Maine and teaches in the community and in Oregon State University-Cascades' MFA; she is currently teaching a course in American cinema to insightful students at the Maine State Prison enrolled through the University of College at Rockland (hi, guys!). Arielle writes a regular column on contemporary poetics for the American Poetry Review.