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“Secrets to Change Life” by Ian Drew Forsyth

Prompts:
An animal trainer
Cornfields
Doughnuts
“Don’t eat that!”
Spending $4
Owls

***

Secrets to Change Life

By Ian Drew Forsyth

“Next to his gorgeous sleeping body, how many hours I used to spend awake at night, wondering why he wanted to escape from reality so badly. No man ever had such a wish. I realized—without any fear for him—that he could be a serious threat to society.—Maybe he’s got secrets to change life?

 

~Arthur Rimbaud (translated by Bertrand Mathieu)

 

Are you saying, you hypnotize each one of these cats?” says the tourist.

“Madame, this is beyond mere hypnotism—I am a medium to the feline world.”

“Just give her some money, sugar.”

“Do you take American dollars?”

“If you must.”

The tourist hands off a wad of money hot off a squishy airline seat over the Atlantic.

“Merci! Now if you’ll direct your attention to our three extraordinary felines!”

The three cats perk up at the beckoning of Isabella’s voice, and right on cue, all begin to purr. “Art, my ribbons.”

Her son Arthur, who she’d dressed to resemble a riffraff twelve year old poet-genius, bestows her three purple ribbons. With a dramatic swish-swoosh of her arm, the ribbons float down to the cobbles.

She spins out a litany of commands in singsong French almost matching the pitch of mews, meows, and trills of cat tongue, and then winks at her two onlookers: “They’re French cats of course or I would speak to them in English.”

They nod with polite awe. They obviously don’t speak French.

The cats each pick up a ribbon in their mouths and with a sophisticated twist drape them over their necks. Then, still purring, with dainty flecks of their jaws they assist each other in tying each ribbon into a bow. As Scotty’s bow is made perfect by Oliver and Yohan, the tourists with their own non-bow tying mouths agape, begin to clap.

“And there you have it, three now dapper cats in bow ties. There are many more feats they could marvel you with, but we really must be leaving.”

“How did you get them to do that?”

“We had a long discussion about it—enjoy Paris! We’re off to dinner.”

“Here let me give you more money.” The woman digs in her purse for her fresh airport envelope of euros.

Isabella grins at Arthur. “We will eat well tonight my little poet!”

“Oh, is he a poet?” the woman says plucking out twenty euros.

“But of course, he will be one of the greatest poets in the world one day.”

“Is this true child, do you write poems?”

“I do, but I will not be a great poet—I will be a great musician.”

Isabella sighs. “It’s a phase, kids right? If we had more time we’d have him compose you an amazing poem in under fifteen minutes that would tug on the very tethers of your soul.”

“So artistic! What instrument do you play?”

“The accordion ma’am.”

“Although he doesn’t even own one yet.”

“Ah, I’m sure, you’ll be great at it.” The American woman hands Arthur the twenty euros. “But tell me, your accent is American—but your mother, she is French?”

“She—”

“But we cannot reveal too many secrets, or what type of performers would we be Art?”

“Dull performers, mother.”

“If we chance meet you again, he will compose you a poem that will shake the cobwebs from your head and give you the clear infinite of the sea. Bonne nuit, Scotty, onward!” The three cats pad off in front as Isabella and Arthur flash their toothy grins at their patrons and take off at a brisk walk up the slow curve of the Seine.

“Now what will we eat—the options are open!”

“Our favorite,” Arthur says.

Sitting on the stony ledge of the Seine in the Latin Quarter they break into the flesh of their baguette, smear it with butter, and coat it with melted Brie. Then not forgetting to give the cats some fish heads and a toss of catnip, they devour the warm, fatty crunch with much savory sighs and dairy-overloaded palates. For dessert, chocolate covered strawberries are dipped in Chantilly cream.

Then filled with simple pleasures, they laugh themselves silly on the antics of their dear cat pack, whom high on the nip, battle along the edge of the river—Oliver, one misplaced paw from being underwater.

Arthur had asked his mother how she’d trained her cats many times before and decides to yet again.

Isabella shakes her long sable mane over her face. “What will it take for you to trust me? They talk to me—I answer. How are you going to be the great poet I want you to be if you don’t believe in the impossible. Remember: poets are the real visionaries, scientists are secondary.”

“Nobody cares about poets anymore mom.”

“Blasphemy! I demand you read Illuminations once more before bedtime for adequate penance.”

“But rock stars, pop stars, rappers: that’s who everybody listens to.”

“And they’re all idiots.”

Arthur frowns and picks up Scotty and begins to pet him. “They’re just people. And I feel like you’re calling me an idiot.” He shoots her a glare.

Isabella peals out a cackle of mad laughter and gives Art a joking punch in the arm. “That is so beautiful and compassionate of you to say and I cherish that quality in you, but don’t trust the idiots of the world to listen to your art and properly hear it. And you’ll never be an idiot! Even if you listen to that forsaken sugared gibberish.”

“Whatever, child-beater, just tell me when the cats will talk to me?”

“Oh come on, I barely touched you.” She chuckles and winks. “They’ll talk to you, when you get a couple French girlfriends—it’s a puberty thing. O, the hearts you’ll break!” She ruffles his hair much to his chagrin as he bats away her suffocating mother hands which grip him to her too tight. As tight as a lover might, but twice as gentle, and of a motherly desperation, as the sun sinks on Paris like an old battered pirate ship and the City of Lights dumps it halcyon halogen into the river—streaking stained glass candy across the poetic eyes of the still-left flâneurs—all mere spectacle to the badauds, those frauds, out to repetitively rediscover the Disney heart of this city—the city where revolution, modernity, and the bohemian were born and continue even if in the faint afterglow of once what was.

*

My mother kidnapped me from my father’s flat in London when I was ten. She arrived like a spy: frenzied, mad, eyes ablaze with hatred. She was screaming he was an ogre and that she’d whisk me away to enchanted lands where money didn’t matter, and human connection wasn’t a business transaction.

I was happy to leave, dad was never there and when he came home, he brought strange gaudy women and/or drank too much. Mom says he was even snorting coke right under my nose. “Well under his nose if you want to get technical about it,” she said.

My mother swears she was young and dumb when she met my father but that I was not a mistake and that I was the best thing that ever happened to her. “Many artists will say that their children ruined their potential careers—but you enrich mine. When we get to Paris, I’ll show you my Parentage painting series—it’s the best thing I’ve ever done!”

Mom says that in college in New York, father promised her that he was going to be an environmental lawyer. “What environment are you going to save there—Central Park?” But in law school when he got some of the highest grades in his class and corporate firms offered him astounding salaries—he folded to the money. “But I couldn’t leave you—I held onto to you as long as I could.”

After a few years we moved to London, because dad had accepted a position at a bank. “That’s when he really got evil and I know you don’t even want to hear this—but he cheated on me a lot, and he didn’t care about us anymore. You know it as well as I, he’s become a monster—he’s not human, oh, Goddess, I said I wasn’t going to bash your father, but it’s so easy—forgive me, and give me a hug—I need one.”

When I was nine, my mother disappeared. One morning, she wasn’t there. My father didn’t even flinch, and, although it felt ominous, we didn’t talk about it for three days. On the fourth, I asked him where she’d gone, and he said he didn’t know, but that she’d be back.

She’d had: “An existential crisis—I felt worse than a stifled housewife might—I felt like I was a concubine to the Attila the Hun of finance—cold, calculating warlord with money and stock as his deadly weapons of choice.” She’d decided to walk the road to Santiago in the upper region of Spain after reading of another woman’s experience in a book. It’s traditionally an ancient Catholic pilgrimage but my mother says: “It’s become more secularized, and open to anyone with a spiritual quandary or even just a fancy for change—we’re all a series of similar desires that lead towards transcendence.” It usually takes about two months if you start where most people do, in the south of France near the Spanish border, but because many paths link to El Camino all across Europe, my mother walked from London, taking the ferry over to France from Dover after stopping by Canterbury, another pilgrim’s destination totaling some six months of walking. When you walk El Camino, you walk with a significant spiritual question in mind. Her question was how she was going to change her life: to escape my father, and save me from a life like his.

So she showed up screaming he was an ogre one night because she still had the keys to the flat. By then, my dad pretended my mother had never existed, and if anyone asked about her he didn’t respond, and because he had so much money, no one was asking him personal questions anymore.

After the screaming, she hugged me and cried and I began to cry and she apologized profusely for leaving without me until she was on her knees begging for forgiveness and our eyes were puffy by the time I got a chance to accept her apology. I’d never been more overwhelmed with emotion—from that day on, I’ve felt emotions never more tender: I understand their depth, their flux, they’re amazing and I revel in them.

“Pack everything you want to take—we’re leaving before the ogre returns to his castle. I’m going to take you to the rumbling heart of the revolution, then we’re going to the stars, and then we will settle in a history not our own. All paths are open and we are not we: we are the force that moves mountains and churns rivers upside down.”

She was very poetic those first new nights together as if she’d become a female prophet and she was magically chanting us away from father. She did actually magically chant us out of the apartment—laying a shard of obsidian on father’s pillow, and cutting the cable to his television. She also hid several of his suits around the flat and threw out the entire contents of his fridge—keeping what we wanted to eat.

As we boarded the tube, I felt full of adrenaline, like a wild runaway fugitive might. I didn’t know where we were going—I hardly imagined it’d be in gray London, but we got off at St. Paul’s and walked up to the cathedral where at the steps of it spread tent after tent of the homeless and young and some middle aged. They were all furiously talking or calmly laying back—reading or cooking or planning.

“Welcome to the Revolution, Art.”

I’d heard the term Occupy, but had no idea what it was. At first, I’d thought it had something to do with Guy Fawkes Day because of the masks, which we’d gone to in Lewes one November 5th: 80,000 people packed in an old village to watch fire barrels race through the narrow lanes and the effigy of the Pope go kaboom in fireworks.

We stayed in our own tent at first, but then a squat opened up: an old bank building, and all you had to do to stay there was one chore. One chore: that’s all it took to keep the real crazies out. At 10 o’ clock, we’d lock it down, barricade the doors and windows, and say a magic chant the police wouldn’t raid us in the night. We had rotating guards through the dark, ready to evacuate everyone if it got violent.

I began to enjoy making banners with their large bold statements. I overheard a lot of things—of course, not everything I heard, I understood, but mom attempted to explain everything to me from Marxism vs. Communism, Socialism vs. Liberalism, Neoliberalism vs. Neoconservatism and whatever else.

One night, I created a banner with the phrase: Death to Mediocrity which I’d overheard in conversation and had to look the word up in an online dictionary and make sure I was spelling it right. From the moment my mother saw it, she declared me a poet, even though it’s not my phrase, and then she began telling me all about poetry: the Romantics, Dickinson, Symbolism, Surrealism, the Beats, Plath, and Slam Poetry.

I was the youngest person at Occupy so a lot of people talked to me: some like I was a child, and these were the rules I need to learn or that if I got scared I’d know who to go to; while others talked to me like I was the newest, freshest generation and I needed to lead everyone my age.

Being now branded as a poet by my mother, everyone in the squat and encampment expected me to write poems. First I started shyly writing poems of 3 to 5 lines, just combinations or elaborations of the bold statements of the banners:

WAR IS NOT LOVE

LOVE IS NOT MONEY
MONEY IS NOT HEAVEN

But soon it multiplied into longer form poems. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s chapbook: A Coney Island of the Mind, gave me the true inspiration to find my own voice, and it was immensely amplified by the camp and the ambition of everyone. There was much to write about: I was creating my first chapbook.

We were living right under the nose of my father; I was afraid he’d sniff us out, and gobble us up. My mother’s ogre metaphor was haunting me in my dreams, my father always had a sacrificial dagger in his hand and he was into stalking after us like a serial killer might. I wondered if he was even searching for us, because he was just as detached from me as from mother. I can’t lie, it hurt that he didn’t look for me. “We’ll find you a better father, or you can be your own father—the universe will work it out for us.”

I thought of that idea—being my own father. I felt my mind was ready for it, it was maturing faster than my physical body could catch up, so that in the five months we lived at Occupy, I’d lived five years and I was seventeen mentally speaking. My mother claimed I’d be just like Rimbaud all the time, but with the Latin American fury for physical revolt in my blood, and we’d lead a revolution of life and art.

A week before the bobbies finally forced us all out of the squat and the encampment, an accordion player appeared. He always stood on the cathedral steps belting out one long continuous ballad, day and night, only pausing for catnaps and quick meals. He still performed in the muffled background when the stereos pumped music and the bullhorns roared instructions. His ongoing music became in that week to me, the song of Occupy—gorgeous, haunting, and unyielding if not playful, a bit disheveled, and longing. From that week forth, I wanted to be a musician more than a poet.

*

My son was born a saint. I call him Art as in great art, and Arturo as in his Spanish blood. His father wanted him to be called Arthur, so I never call him that. He is technically American, as am I, but I tell him to let go of that, for we are people of the world.

My little poet and I had just ended our stint as revolutionaries and we were fired up, inferno spilled through us, he’d finished his first collection of poems called: Poems that Explode.

We didn’t fail!

We will return!

We never left!

While I’d given him Lorca and duende and revolt, now I wanted him to know the roots of his father, deep waters his father would never paddle, Celtic fire he’d long since abandoned as mere superstition. Thus the English countryside was calling.

We strolled the bootstrapped paths of the Lake District where Wordsworth and Coleridge walked verse to verse through the dales and glens, the weald and the shores.

I returned to Canterbury with him and we basked in the full cathedral glories minus the sullen conformities.

And we ended up in Avebury, lightning rod of the Neolithic stone circle, and the circles in the grain. We waited for little balls of light to come down and etch ancient geometric patterns of the Celts in hyperreal four-dimensional hypercubes for us hyper-humans approaching the gnosis of cosmic consciousness with hopeful non-vague exactitudes to exalt and spread: in short, we sought contact with the extraterrestrials.

I’ll remember that night for the rest of my life. Art and I had entered a cornfield a near ten miles from Stonehenge and dusk rolled out a blanket of gold and pearl and the air shook with electric potential. Art was curious about the corn and ripped off an ear to taste.

“Don’t eat that!”

“Why?”

“It’s a Franken food. There’s little pesticides reproducing in each one of its cells making it a hundred times more potent, as it continues to reproduce in your intestines.”

Art bit it anyway and gagged, spitting it out.

“Well my little Icarus have you learned?”

“It’s wretched—it tastes like dish soap.”

“The only good thing it’ll be for is the message from above.” I pointed out all the star clusters at that point, where it was presumed life was and whom we thought they were, but that me and him wouldn’t really know, until we met them.

We sat in half-lotus position in a field I’d intuited would be a target, although Art couldn’t quite get into half-lotus and I made a mental note to train him. He’d have to be good at meditation to undertake all the journeys before us. He was doing beautifully. Don’t fill a kid’s head with school: fill it with travel, with concepts beyond his years!

He sat there and I taught him Celtic chants. We sat there and the stars bled. We sat there and heaven fell. I kept waking Art up as the night wore us down and told him all the lore of the fields I could: what it could mean for us to meet more intelligent life, how they’d enlighten us from our repetitive destructive patterns that they’d already unlearned.

I must’ve tired myself out explaining everything to him, because I slumped over into dream…

And in the morning, the glorious morning—I kid you not! My kid and I were standing inside one of the most complex and fourteenth largest crop circle to date! Can you believe it? We danced ring-around-the-rosey—I could tell Art was astounded—the air buzzed with raw potential—someone had visited us in the night—someone wise beyond our comprehension.

We waited until the researchers came and shared our story, and they theirs, and I felt I’d expanded my boy’s consciousness. Next we’d be off to Paris to make artists of us both.

*

When Isabella brought Art to Belleville, she bespoke its wonders as the stronghold of the working class, the home of anarchists, the birthing place of the autonomous commune. Although it’d been challenged by gentrification and multiculturalism was attempting to balance it out. “Where there’s gentrification, there is artistic money to be made off the talentless, tasteless upper classes—scam them for all they’re worth Art—scam the high heels right off their feet.

“And then if it gets so bourgeoisie we can’t breathe and the rent skyrockets, it’s time to rocket from the posh wastes and head to the capitals of the next visionaries.”

She lectured him extensively on the ethics of art until he had to politely tell her to shut up or else he wouldn’t absorb everything she was babbling to him. They were living in a large building that was an artist collective, where the rent was low and the oddballs abundant. Art was not denying that his mother was one of these oddballs.

She was working on a busking gimmick that could keep them fed. She thought of street singing, but then she didn’t have a good voice. She thought of starting a flea circus, but it seemed too detailed and archaic. She thought of having Art on the avenues hawking spontaneously made poems to passerby for donations, but then thought that would put too much pressure on him, and that she was in fact the provider. Finally she came across an obscure book about communicating with animals by a French author who’d been a practicing witch as well.

Two weeks later after obsessively reading it three times, she went out and got three cats and locked herself in her attic room for two more weeks, before she claimed she had met them in the dreamworld and worked out a deal with them, and they five would never go hungry again.

To add to the list of oddballs: there were of course the trust funders that Isabella said of to Art: “Never trust a trust funder. They’ve rarely suffered and even if they do, they still won’t get it. Money makes one weak and inhuman, especially if you’re born in a great sticky pile of it.”

Art attempted to avoid all the trust funders by his mother’s wishes, but he couldn’t sense their inhumanity. And it did seem they suffered.

There was ‘el depresso’, the film director from somewhere in the United States, although he wouldn’t reveal where. He was always depressed of course, and took long dead pan shots of the Parisian public hoping to start a New Wave esque movement called ‘Drowning Wave’ related to the overpopulation of the world and the elevation of bland and addictive patterns. “His art is good, his soul has gone sour,” Isabella said.

The hacker as she was known was only known as the hacker and no one called her by her name, which had been forgotten, even likely by her. “One day she will make us all moderately well-off and then we can all travel as much as we want, minus the trust funders, and cheaply of course, and do our part in sinking capitalism, kicking and screaming into a shallow grave.”

And then there was Art’s favorite: the troubadour. Art had of course taken a shining to him because he was a musician and played the accordion, as well as the banjo, flute, sitar, guitar, bass, trumpet, and drums which is why Isabella first thought Art wanted to be a musician, but Art had never told her about the accordion player that she’d obviously overlooked in the last hectic week of Occupy. Some secrets she cannot have, he thought, for how would I then change life.

The troubadour was from Argentina but had traveled extensively through South and North America: looking or buscar in Spanish, where the term busk originates, for not just fame and fortune, but for “Luck’s loving arms and charity’s gracious gifts” as he explained it. He was a roamer, but he’d settled somewhat in Belleville for longer than he’d thought he would, and now he couldn’t imagine leaving yet. Art secretly wanted him to never leave and spent as much time as he could with him.

*

On Sunday morning, Art hops out of bed, exits his tiny attic loft room and runs down a flight of stairs to the large kitchen where the early risers are and those who haven’t gone to bed yet from Saturday’s festivities.

Isabella sulking like a drugged dragon over her coffee looks up at his Cheshire grin. “Where are you off to little poet at such an early hour?”

“Drink up your coffee Izzy, you look as sleepy as an old willow.” He calls her Izzy when he’s feeling most affectionate to her, which has lately tended to be when he gets free from under her exacting eye. “I’m off with the troubadour to Notre Dame, we plan to wow those who’re not captured in ecclesiastic rapture.”

“How bouncy and spunky of you my little punk of frankincense—tell Jason to have you back by a reasonable hour. Tell him your best friend cannot be robbed of her Sunday night with her little poet.”

“Izzy, moms can’t be best friends. Besides how can I tell this imaginary girlfriend you want me to have: at the top of my glorious list of contacts stands my mother?”

Isabella raises her coffee mug as if to salute herself. “Am I not a glorious mother?”

“Ah yes, and all the stars and moons. Have you seen Jason?”

“He’s probably tuning his lyre in the courtyard.”

“Don’t be a liar Izzy.”

“Are you going to walk the cats before you leave?”

“I’m sure Jason would love them to go,” Art says chewing down a croissant.

“As I said before, they won’t obey him and some secrets—”

“I know—remain secret.”

“Then be gone my poet, but don’t be accursedly late to our walk.”

“Perhaps we’ll have no smother fest tonight and I will shock you a bit like we do the tourists.”

“Ah-hah—rebellion I hear, but will it bray vigorous enough?”
“We will see, dear Izzy, bye!”

Art dashes down to the courtyard to find Jason with his troupe: two dancers and three other musicians.

“Arturo, have you escaped her?”
“Oh yes!”

“And the cats?”

“No, as usual.”

“Then off with us, the crowds will be swarming on the cathedral.”

They all stride off, Art and Jason at the back. Jason is dressed as a slap dash vagabond minstrel which compliments the tattered poet fare his mother had chosen him, although he is adding his own psychedelic tinges to it now.

“Remind me how old you are again Arturo.”

“I just turned thirteen this November.”

“Ah what an auspicious number—what a life you’re living, when I was thirteen I was still trapped behind a desk in Buenos Aires.”

“But then you escaped and were better for it.”

“Of course I was! I’m never returning to those hoops laid out for us. I’m still moderately young at 29, but how many 18 year olds I’ve had to say with a grimace on my face: ‘What hoops will they have you jump through next?’ Like we were dogs, but with the weight of money over our heads.”

“Or like cats who can tie their own bow ties.”

“No—that’s amazing, how does your mother do it?! She’s such a mystic woman, tell me again, how old is she?”

Art playfully pushes Jason. “You’re always forgetting ages, but this is a secret I’m sworn to protect.”

“She’s got to be in her early thirties.”

“She might be.”

“Okay we’ll leave it a secret—she seems to have a lot of them.”

“She’ll tell them to you slowly. But first, you have to like her paintings.”

Jason raises his eyebrows. “Like her paintings? I love her work! What type of advice are you giving me?” Jason asks and grins. He has a lucky French gap between his two front teeth.

“The type you want.”

“You rascal. Have I ever told you my four dollar story—to return to the topic of money?”

“No, I’m all ears.”

“You better be eyes and nose as well. So, it basically goes like this. I was just about to break loose of Buenos Aires and because of this I’d been wild and careless with my money. Maybe it was this unconscious part of me putting up another impediment I thought, when I realized I was down to 12 pesos, that was about four American dollars at the time because this was right after the economic collapse of 2001.

“And I thought, dios mios, what have I done—I’m poorer than poor in a time of great poverty for Argentina and now I need a job and it’s hard to get one and what do I do?

“Well, I thought the best thing to do was to actually use this as the impetus for traveling. I returned to my parent’s house, I gave them my last four dollars ritualistically, and I hit the road with my instrument, which at the time was a trumpet.

“And the people I met! Oh, out in the Andes, you’ll find many a wild hippie rebel—dreadlocks wrapped around their toes, living off the land, spreading the word of small farming, small markets, you would’ve never thought Argentina was in dire straights out there.

“And that is the wisdom of 12 pesos, four dollars, going to zero: you’re free—you’re a sharp lad, I know you understand.”

*

After they played to the cathedral goers, and Art got another accordion lesson from Jason, and they all made a chunk of change—they spend it on a meal and lounge in the gardens and Art thinks about stranding his mother from their walk and wandering off to survey Paris by night alone. But with a certain reluctance, he bid goodbye to the troubadour and his troupe and headed back to Belleville.

Isabella waits in a crimson and ultramarine shawl looking like a flag of some victorious triumph, with the three patient cats by her side. Without a word, they begin sauntering and in the silence they are swallowed in their thoughts.

The silence gets broken by Isabella’s gurgling stomach.

“You haven’t eaten much, have you Izzy?”

“Oh don’t mother me now. Look there’s a bakery.”

“Our favorite?”

“But of course.”

The baker doesn’t mind the three cats following them in, and even when they leap up on the counter and stare at her, she doesn’t flinch.

“What will it be?” the baker says.

Izzy orders cream for the cats. Art sees a beignet au miel for a euro. “Is that a doughnut?”

“Oh Goddess, the doughnuts are vile in Paris! If they were not already—I will not have you eat such slime.”

“But I’m curious,” he says with a wry smile.

“This is like the corn—perhaps worse.”

That dampens his appetite and they leave to find a bench on the Seine to eat.

“Izzy, I think Jason likes you.”

You like Jason.”

“Yes, but do you too?”

She frowns and bites into her slice of the triple b’s as they call it. She watches the lights refract and wiggle like serpents on the river.

“He’s too…he’s always moving.”

“He hasn’t moved in six months.”

“That’s not very long, even in poetic time—oh can I tell you the splendid idea I had today?!”

“If you want to avoid the subject.”

“Did you tell him my age?”

“No.”

“Good. So the idea was: a poemonomy.” She smirks, perhaps partially at her idea and also that Jason doesn’t know her age.

“A what?”

“Let’s imagine a world or far off land you could say, or even an alternate plane, where everyone chose their unit of currency to be the poem. For example, if you ordered a meal at a restaurant, the waiter would return after you’d finished and ask for two to three poems of medium length and quality, more if the food was exceptional.”

“About what?”

“Whatever the restaurant wanted, or your choice. And say you wanted to purchase a warehouse to make into an artists’ collective, it would only take three great chapbooks of poetry or one or two if they were transcendently made.”

“Couldn’t any type of art be accepted?”

“Surely! Paintings, stories, music scores, crafts, performances, any act that is creative: an artonomy. So that the foundation of the creation of wealth is based on art and not the abstraction of money, but of expression and its reflections.”

“Sounds lovely and impossible—it would take great magic.”

“Oh it would, but it starts in places like where we live, but then sadly money can kill it, fame strip it, and history distort it, if not discard it.” She looks as if she might weep and while Art doesn’t mind if she does, he doesn’t feel like she wants to.

But then, marvelously, he sees a parliament of owls descend to the ledge of a bridge close by. “Oh, that’s odd! Look at those owls!”

Isabella looks over to the bridge to see five owls blinking their saucer yellow eyes at them. “I’ve never seen one, let alone five in the city!” Art continues.

His mother blinks her big eyes back at the owls and then after a distant gaze over Paris and back to Art says: “They’re telling us it’s possible.”

The cats all nod knowingly, and leap up to the warm laps waiting for them. As the silent rolling of the Seine goes on, Isabella leads Art in a magical chant to seal the portent.

© 2013 Ian Drew Forsyth

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