“trou au centre de la terre,” “Black Hole” and “French Lessons”

trou au centre de la terre

Hole in the Center of the Earth

Inside Notre Dame is a black hole

where worshippers find a secret passageway

to grace

After the fiery birth, sodden mementos:

A cross,

A crown of thorns

Sculpted stone and paintings

The smell of charred faith

They are singing hymns all around the crater

that leads to the very center

of the earth:

Christ’s tomb

Walls that roll away

Spires collapsing

Bees hunkered in their hives

Outside trees in bloom and birds in flight

Sun through a hole in the sky

where God might come down and tell

some people off:

Don’t blame the Jews,

the Muslims,

the gays

or the Yellow Vests

Accidents happen

Fires start

Spontaneous combustion

Carelessly tossed cigarettes

Cars gone feral

What’s important is to keep

the fires of revolution stoked

Light through darkness

You and I are not voyeurs

of history

Every one of us is either a collaborator

or a resister

We don’t even know the choices we make

are not ours to choose

The history we leave in our wake

the next generation’s refuse

Black Hole

Like what prepubescent boys imagine

lies at the juncture

of a woman’s legs

dark void that can swallow a man


burning with hellfire

at its rim

if you go there, you must be prepared

to withstand nuclear heat

and to risk annihilation

your own heart plundered

your own soul


if you make it past the hole’s

fiery rim you will know

exquisite pleasure

in dying that

momentous but not



you will have visited eternity

and returned to tell

the tale to embellish

to boast

or if you are the man your mother

dreamed of while conceiving you

on her bed of white stars

you will fall into the black holes

of the eyes of your lovers,

flared with iridescent irises

that match your own,

deep enough to take you

to the outer reaches

of the universe

time and time again

French Lessons

Sing the words, she says,

Round your lips and tilt back your head,

So I try to sound like her, and lilt

the phrases, la musique Francais

But when I try to conjure Edith Piaf

my mouth gets stuck around the vowels

and my syllables trip over themselves

Non! Says the teacher–tu parles comme un russe,

un réfugié

from a very bad movie

Forget it, I say


I don’t need to know how to order le poisson

or even les boisson

I need to find the Yellow Vests.

Comment dit-on Yellow Vest en Francais?

How to be young again à Paris

Forget the happy faces in the text,

with balloons of song in perfect French

coming out of their perfect French mouths

I have to find my way back to la révolution

I have to find a passion

I can really get mon cœur


About the Author

Dotty LeMieux

My work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rise Up Review, Writers Resist, Gyroscope and Solo Novo, among others and anthologies After/Ashes — a Camp fire anthology and the Marin Poetry Center Anthology. I have had three chapbooks published and edited the Turkey Buzzard Review, in Bolinas California in the 1970’s and 80’s. Dotty LeMieux studied at the New College of California Poetics Program and with poets Joanne Kyger, Edith Jenkins and Thomas Centolella. She runs political campaigns for progressive candidates, mainly women, and lives and writes in Marin County California with her husband and two dogs.