Paris Titivillus, an ekphrastic poem by Linda Lanza

Paris Match by Mike Rose
Klingspor Museum Offenbach
Calendar, February 1994

Paris Titivillus
by Linda Lanza

On viewing Paris Match, a serigraph by Mike Rose. Titivillus is the patron demon of calligraphers responsible for all word mutilations, misspellings, and spilled ink.

Titivillus, scribe’s demon, would have her think Paris
is a state of mind, paradise if it had more letters;
that marks and arches flooding Rose’s Paris Match
are enough to still the sirens.

Brushmarks blur and blink like Matisse paper-cuts on speed
in 3-D mimicking Montmartre, the Eighth Arrondissement,
the Champs Élysées. Black swaths flow Seine-like in two places
masking and arcing over dotted lovers listing near sidewalk cafes,

pain au chocolat, café au lait.
Black and red on white—scribal tradition, the alchemist’s palette—
form a terra firma crucible for the golden ecliptic pas de deux. Zoom
in closer to the white span across the nighttime river, a red

squaring of a circle like blood, like the heat of Leslie Caron and Gene
Kelly jungle dancing on the cobbled urban bridge, breathless lithe legs
and musculature touching and melding, touching, emitting sparks,
tearing away, turning face to face, looking away, walking away,

turning. Here, fauvist Mona Lisa magnetizes millions, cryptic
in her mystery still and in spite of Pei’s pyramid pointing heavenward,
vainly, ever ready to transmit and receive. She smiles privately. Is that
a hand, that mark, an upturned palm juggling three balls? C’est très folie.

C’est trois folies. She smiles eternally knowing the show
veils most of what’s behind, beneath, before, below, conceals what
cannot be known but only surmised, guessed at through a fogged
and muddied lens, depending.

She would disregard the inhospitable repute to squint at boxy window
shapes and listen. Dexter’s reedy tenor inveigles the temerous visitor to divest
her citizenship for a midnight cab ride through rainy streets to a blue-noted
alley, a shaded lamp in a wooded foyer, a third-floor walk-up where flame

shadows shoot to a twelve foot ceiling from a mantled fireplace. Marked
and arched, the trompe l’oeil tricks her heart into feeling.
Does that say up? Or is she reading too much into it? She finds
the leather-bound and gilt-edged primer for a language she

cannot speak but dreamed before she was born and dreams it
still when she and Mars are in retrograde.

Published in PARTICLES OF EXCHANGE: Selected Poems 1998-2017. ©Lanza 1998. All rights reserved.

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Writing By Hand Is More Beneficial Than You Thought…

“…psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep. Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.”

What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades – The New York Times, June 3, 2014