"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."  --William Shakespeare

Entries in surrealists (8)


"I Love You Touch My Pieces" (Surrealist Translation)

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Pole Ka.

After a three-month break for other writing projects, we're back. Here is an interview in French, by writer Sophie Pujas, of the collagist street artist, Madame Moustache. (Thanks, Veronique Mesnager, for the link). 

Although we understand the French, I wanted to translate it (quickly) for those Paris Play readers interested in wonderful street art, especially collage. So I ran the article through Google Translate. There is something surreal and delightful to us in this fractured translation.


Richard's photographs were taken on a recent morning outing with Madame and her paste-up buddy, Fred le Chevalier, that began with a civilized morning espresso in an 11th arrondissement café. Madame requested that we not show her face.

Here you go:


                              *             *          *

Madame Moustache: "I do not pretend to be outlawed" 
Art - Street Art

Madame Moustache, currently exposed to Sète in the K-Live festival, poetizes streets surrealist collages perfume and retro. 

Where are you from?

I come from a family of artists. My grandfather and my father were painters ... I have always refused to do. Although I've always drawn, I did not feel my shoulders to carry the family tradition ... I was an actress before becoming a designer. I made small drawings, collages, travel diaries when I was traveling, where again I stuck stuff ... I started to collage, because technically, with drawing, I could not express what I wanted. At the same time, I was hanging out in Paris with lots of graffiti. I made my first collage to the Canal Saint-Martin there is a little more than three years. It was a big monkey with an elephant's trunk. It is so fine that it has done me good, I found it easy. It was not crooked, I asked where I wanted ... I started small, and bigger and bigger.

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Pole Ka.

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache

Designer, was already an appropriation of space. He left something in your street work? 

I realize that yes. Especially since recently, I rotated on many objects - things that I can touch to act on it, slightly changing the meaning. In the same way that I am influenced by the images of Epinal. I always like this is a bit hidden, what does not discover at first glance. Hence the fact of choosing objects can I divert, lit and extinguished lamps, build boxes ... I love being surprised. When I like an artist, I like to be surprised that he changed support, colors ... I hate boredom, and I hate that I think of Lady ... So I try to diversify although I think I'll stick still in the street - I love it too. 


Why this retro universe?

I grew up in the workshop of my grandfather, full of old things, and I had the chance to let me touch it. Brushes, palettes, I tripatouillais ... There was a large buffet in his studio, under a large canopy, and I see myself with a book of gold leaf in hand, I had dug there, and he let me browse the sun ... I've always been in the permissive handling is also why I love you touch my pieces! I've kept this messy side - there is always something behind ... I'm very attached to the nostalgia, the taste of childhood ...

But it is a nostalgia plays with irony, offset ...

Always. I do not like people who take themselves seriously. I can not imagine work without me laugh. So I feel that people are laughing looking at my items. Since I put on the street, I need to create something. I did not want to stick something and people do not understand. Even if there is a double or triple meaning in one of my collages, I feel that the first reaction of passers-by or smile. They feel that there is something funny. I stick express day to see the reactions. I just stuck the night, at first, and it did not fit me at all. I am not a vandal, I do not claim to be outlawed. I claim nothing, if not tolerance or questions. I like to discuss, even with some who do not. I understand - I needed something sticky on the street!


Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache
Why the question of identity, such as you take to heart?

Since forever, I asked a lot of questions about it. I think it goes back to a childhood trauma. I had very long hair and one of my friends asked me to play at the hairdresser. I thought she would pretend, and she cut my hair flush ... For several months I was treated boy! I hang with a lot of guys, I do not let me piss ... My work is also related to the fact that today I do not understand how anyone can still judge people on their identity or sexual preferences By what right? I think we're both in us, a little masculine, a little feminine. It is not necessarily predestined to love someone of the opposite sex, we have the right to try both, to test ... You brought me in tolerance.

Mustache with which you sign, it is the emblem of this claim?

Of course! I love bias borders. I like from saying stuff man, or vice versa this very girly picture: a very big makeup guy who rips the heart by saying ultra sensitive stuff you. I really like to mix the two, while trying not tired, not systematic or become redundant. In my cultural journey, I was also influenced by the punk that my brother loved or images transgender 80s.

Where are the images that you use for collages?

Magazines of the early twentieth century until the 70 maximum. After, colors and materials change. I like to keep some obsolete thing. I like the idea of ​​craftsmanship, this is a little damaged, we do not know quite where the image has been edited or not. This is still a story of transgression: transgression of the time, the style ...


Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Fred le Chevalier.

Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache. Additional art © 2014 Fred le Chevalier.
You feel close to a certain tradition of collage - surreal or Dada, for example?

Not at all. Of course, I was in the museum when I was little, and surely I have certain things. But I purposely avoided looking at, I do not want to be influenced. I do not want to dada! When I look at the pastels I did at one time, I think it looks the Chaissac. I did not do it consciously, but I had seen too kid because my parents loved ... And I do not want to spit out something that I was taught there a thousand years! I am afraid of being influenced, but also to compare me. I like to go see something else feed me art that does not look at all like what I do. I love art brut, for example, or photo.

Why decline on objects?

If it runs, is that it touches. I sell very expensive products, not as bags or serigraphs, so that it circulates. I do not pretend to live ...


Artwork © 2014 Fred le Chevalier
You feel in dialogue with other street artists?

Especially with Fred Knight [Fred Le Chevalier]. It much glue to one side of the other. Suddenly our dialogue works, and we're both big on words. He and I, we are very tortured, and is found on many points, such as the genre. But I do not necessarily seek this kind of dialogue. At the moment I tend to go to places where there is nothing. I'm a bit tired of places where garbage, when you arrive, there is already stuff loosely bonded, and finally where you can not see anything, there are more surprise. At first I tried a bit of dialogue with what was there, now it interests me less. And then I make bigger and bigger, so I need walls where there is nothing!


Artwork © 2014 Madame Moustache



If I Were King. Or Queen. An Invitation to the Surrealist Café

Street art (c) 2103 Fred le Chevalier

Okay, time for another gathering at the Surrealist Café. This time we'd like you to invent your own government, with YOU as the leader, and to pick your nickname. E-mail your game entry to us by Friday, October 18, 11:59 p.m., Paris time, and we'll post it on Saturday's Paris Play.  

Here's how this topic evolved: A few weeks ago, my cousin and I were talking about that dashing French king, Henri IV, le Vert-Galant. Hank wondered if there were other names besides his namesake, Henry, that French and English kings had in common. 

I looked up French and English kings and found one other: Charles. And was struck by two things: how many English queens there have been, how few French queens. And that what the French lack in gender equality, they (sort of) make up for in amusing nicknames for kings.


Street art (c) 2103 Fred le Chevalier

Kings of France

The Franks:

  • Clodion- the Hairy (c. 400-447)

 The Merovingians:

  • Childeric III the Fainéant (the Do-nothing) (714-743) 

 The Carolingians:

  • Pepin the Short (715-751)
  • Charles I the Great (or) Charlemagne (742-768)
  • Louis I the Debonaire or Pious (778-814)
  • Charles II the Bald (823-840)
  • Louis II the Stammerer (846-879)
  • Charles the Fat (839-888)
  • Charles III the Simple (879-929)

The Capetians:

  • Robert II the Pious (972-1031)
  • Louis VI the Fat (1084-1137)
  • Louis VIII the Lion (1187-1226)
  • Louis IX or Saint Louis (1214-1270)
  • Philippe III the Bold (1245-1285)
  • Philippe IV the Fair (1268-1314)
  • Louis X the Haughty (1289-1316)
  • Jean I the Posthumous (1316-1316)
  • Philip V the Long (1293-1316)
  • Charles IV the Fair (1294-1322) 

The Valois:

  • John II the Good (1319-1364)
  • Charles V the Wise (1338-1380)
  • Charles VI the Mad or Beloved (1368-1422)
  • Charles VII the Victorious (1403-1461)
  • Charles VIII the Affable (1470-1498)
  • Louis XII the Father of the People (1462-1515)

The Bourbons

  • Henri IV Green-Galant (the gay blade) 1553-1610)
  • Louis XIII the Just (1601-1643)
  • Louis XIV the Great (1638-1715)
  • Louis XV the Loved (1710-1774) 

It started sounding to me like a Surrealist game. Just like the governments of so many countries lately. So many of them seem to be tumbling down, or to be, at best, shaky.


Street art (c) 2103 Fred le Chevalier

Last week, I read Plato’s The Republic again for a fictional classroom scene. Plato discusses four kinds of government, and how they evolve or devolve into one another:

  • timocracy (the government of the best, of honour);
  • oligarchy (a government in which the rulers are elected for their wealth, in which the rich have power and the poor man is deprived of it);
  • democracy (where freedom and frankness prevail);
  • tyranny (slavery). 

And I wondered, if we gathered together next Saturday right here at the Surrealist Café in Paris Play, what would those of you who join us want to include in your ideal State? Which three things—values, or services, or goods—would you deem most important for a humanitarian kingdom?


Street art (c) 2103 Fred le Chevalier

And what would you like your subjects to call you, what nickname that summed up your life as head of state would please you?


Street art (c) 2103 Fred le Chevalier. Ravaillac was the assassin of Henri IV.

And, even more telling, what would your detractors call you? We're sure Nixon would have wanted to go down in history as Richard the Diplomat, but probably history will remember him as Dick the Tricky. Then there's Slick Willy, Gerald the Bumbling, and Bling-Bling Sarko. 

Albert Einstein wrote that "Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought." In other words, creativity arises from putting unexpected things together. Isn't that the essence of Surrealism?

Einstein knew the power of play. So does every child. Which I suppose means that none of us are ever too “important” or “unimportant” to play.

Maybe we can dream up some more effective government on this planet by playing together. Or at least have some Surrealist fun, the way we did as kids for hours and hours a day. Once again, use this link to E-mail your game entry to us by Friday, October 18, 11:59 p.m., Paris time, and we'll post it on next Saturday's Paris Play.


Street art (c) 2103 Fred le Chevalier



Surrealist Café: Sensual Surprise


Painting, Pussy 2, (c) 2013 by Philippe Lardy


Last week we asked friends around the world to "Send us a paragraph or a poem or a photo or a drawing of absolutely anything sensual—food, love, beauty, dance—that you experience, observe, dream or imagine that takes you by surprise."

This week, from France, from Switzerland, from Vietnam, from Norway, from Washington, California, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Ohio, from around the world, your responses. Thank you for playing with Paris Play. (All texts and images (c) 2013 by the various artists.)


Cassandra Lane: Excerpt from her manuscript, Seed of Strange Fruit

Our obsession with food eventually moved to Jay’s kitchen. A trained chef and winemaker, he sautéed scallops in the finest of butters and wrapped their plump bodies in caramelized onions. Placing his creations strategically on stylish plates, he drizzled a creamy red wine balsamic sauce across the scallops and the saucers—a dazzle of color. “Let there be light,” he joked. We placed each scallop whole into our mouths, where spices awakened my taste buds and my flesh. 

Chilled glasses of white wine—always sweet, despite that Jay preferred red— refreshed our palates.

He drove me to wine country, fingered grapes while waxing poetically about their complexity, and introduced me to his winemaker friends, who offered me sip after sip of reds and whites. At a cottage restaurant, we shared a goat cheese soufflé and port-glazed figs, and I told Jay about my fascination with figs, rooted in the fig trees that grew in my childhood backyard. In its raw state, the purple-black skin is the sweetest part of the ripe fig. When you peel away the outer layer, you’re left with the milder, milk-white surface underneath. Not as sweet, but pliable and swollen, a lactating breast. One gentle nip releases its cool red ovaries, and here is where the fig’s sweetness returns, trailing the tongue.

I was drunk on our love. We were bound, Jay said, by a soul connection most people would go to their graves not knowing. We reeled each other in with our words—whispered words, written words. In emails and letters, Jay poured words into me that seemed as whole and fresh as the juice of a mango. I would read them out loud, holding the syllables in my mouth, believing them with my entire being. Somehow, I had forgotten that everything is skewed in the first stages of romance. Add to that an illicit love affair, and the sparks of distortion turn to flames. Reading astrological charts and Sabian symbols, I tried to confirm that this man was my soul mate, that we had not—could not have—destroyed our lives for naught.

At least, I could not have.


Nancy Zafris

I doubt you'll find a more sensual or appetizing food photo than this -- Ohio State Forest deep in France...


Photo (c) 2013 Nancy Zafris

Scott MacFarlane: Excerpt from novel-in-progress

Maybe my malaise went far deeper than this current contaminated mess.  Hell, I didn’t understand my own chronic alienation, except that now, without a doubt, the old model was badly cracked.  Even the morning wind through the firs sounded weary to my ears, and the late August sun burned dry from above the Cascade Range to the east––a deep red ball shining through a pallor of dark gray inversion.  The remains of Vancouver and Seattle still smoldered.  The murk settled over the Skagit Valley like an omnipresent reminder of collective doom.

“As fine she’s looked all year,” I heard Uncle Harley say in his smoker’s voice when he turned the Sheriff’s attention away from his barn and toward the river.

“Are you talking about Signe or the Skagit?” Bucky asked, with his eyes downhill.

“The river,” said Uncle Harley.

I continued unloading boxes while the two men in their 60s watched my mother on the sand bar step from her violet, silk kimono and into the cold, slow eddy in the small slough where it entered the outermost bend of the Skagit.  All but my mother’s white bun of hair submerged as she followed her daily, ritual meditation.  Hers was a cold water baptism that I had observed for decades whenever the river turned clear––summer, autumn, winter, or spring.  It was August, so she remained in the river for minutes instead of seconds.  I remembered how Derek and I, as naked lads, used to join her in the ritual.

“Do you think she minds us watching?” Bucky asked my uncle, shifting uneasily from foot-to-foot when Signe emerged from the river.  

Droplets glistened on her long naked body like morning dew.  She closed her eyes, slowly stretching and lifting her arms away from her side.  She faced the sun and seemed to bow.  I couldn’t tell if her expression was happy or sad, but she looked centered, almost serene, when a slight smile curled at the corners of her mouth.  

When her eyes opened, I wondered if she only pretended not to notice the men who watched her bend, then slip so smoothly into her kimono.  Thinking of my mom as still flirtatious bothered me more than her lithe and natural nakedness that had always been commonplace during our sporadic sunny days here in Fish Town.


Mary Duncan: Pillow Gifts

Photograph (c) 2013 Mary Duncan

On her wedding night, a virgin bride found a beautifully wrapped small gift on her pillow. She gently took off the gold ribbon and unfolded the soft, silk gold cloth. She laid the box on her lap and let it nestle in the soft folds of her white embroidered gown. 

Her groom, dressed in a luxurious blue robe, sat quietly on the side of the bed.
As he touched her hand, he said, “Please open it.”
Perhaps she expected a piece of jewelry or a small ornament for her hair.
She hesitated and then did as she was told.
A slight gasp, a blush. Inside the box was a small, ivory, two-inch hand-carved figure, showing a man and a woman entwined. The bride and groom had barely touched until this moment.
The gift of the netsuke (net-su-ke) or (net-ski) was the beginning of her sexual education and could have occurred in Japan in the 1600’s, long before The Joy of Sex was written. In China and Japan, gifts of erotic illustrations and netsukes, were how wealthy families educated young brides.
Not all netsukes are erotic. Animals, people and abstract objects are also highly prized. Japanese men used them to tie their sashes and used them as toggles on small sacks to carry their money and tobacco.
Eventually the netsukes fell out of favor because their sexual positions became too tangled, complex or controversial. When animals and multiple partners were introduced into the delicate erotic carvings, they were temporarily banned.   
Today these intricately carved, erotic netsukes are collected and shown in galleries and museums. They are made from ivory, bone, wood, amber and whale's tooth. In modern times, a combination of resin and ivory dust is also used. Be careful that your gift doesn’t encourage the killing of elephants for their ivory tusks.
Prices vary depending on the age, material used, the artist and origin of the netsuke. Before purchasing or investing, talk with an expert and do your homework. Newer ones are on the market and are far less valuable than those from the 1800’s and earlier.

Netsukes can be the perfect gift for a lover, male or female. Surprise the special person in your life with a gift on their pillow. Hopefully, you’ll both be pleased with the results.


Suki Edwards: Yang of Sensuality

Photograph (c) 2013 Suki Edwards


Gayle Brandeis: Flora

I've always liked the term
"lily-livered."  I know it means
cowardly, but this is how 
I see it:  the liver, sleek
and wine-colored, bursts forth
with lilies; petals drift
and ride the streams of blood.
Think of it:  the body
opens into flower, turns orchid-
spleened, jasmine-lunged, breath
tropical, humid with scent.
Poppies bloom between the legs,
wisteria vines wind
up the spine, each bone filled
with pollen and sweet nectar.  The heart
is a rose, of course, plushly
blossomed, and inside the skull,
with each new thought,
a tulip unfurls
in the brain.


Jane Kitchell: Red Bird Woman 

Sculpture and Photograph (c) 2013 Jane Kitchell


Eric Schafer: Excerpt from his short story "Married," from his collection The Wind Took It Away: Stories of Viet Nam

I have always loved Miền Tây, the Mekong Delta, one of the loveliest places on Earth. Blue rivers, sometimes mocha with rich silt brought all the way from Tibet; gold-green rice fields; high, clear skies that are almost green with the intense reflection of the rice fields at the start of the day and turn reddish cream at sunset; golden brown rice drying on the roads and green-pink thanh long fruit growing everywhere; hundreds of thousands of coconut trees; red-dusty roads, women wearing nón lá and plaid shirts, gracefully pedaling bicycles; schoolgirls in white áo dài with black trousers, little children running, laughing, shouting back and forth along the side of the road; the scent of fresh air and sweet fruit; the red clay earth running into the rough green grass...


Bayu Laprade

Image (c) 2013 Bayu Laprade

Ren Powell: Sensual Surprise (Dissonant Seduction)

We are taxiing on the runway now. I’m flying to Oslo to swear that I no longer want to be an American citizen.

For it to be real, I have to say it out loud. And someone has to hear.

There is nothing supernatural about oaths and prayers and curses. They are waves in the physical world. They move us, just as the sea moves the shore: imperceptibly and absolutely. Events as solid, as physical, as the moment of held breath before a kiss.

I swear.


There is a beauty in physical ease: dance, the smooth gesture of a master carpenter’s hand, the whispered words of a lover that ride the breath - measured carefully and given over. With ease.


Language is the core of identity. The physical world clings to itself. 

The juxtaposition of diphthongs and fricatives reveal everything. It is an unavoidable intimacy of push, of pulse.  

And I will never pass as Norwegian, regardless of my appearance or papers. The second generation Somalian, whose broad vowel æ resonates without an edge, proves that the visual is trumped by the sensual. Appearances deceive, but the breath can not.


There are so many vowels I cannot sing. Cannot measure.

And though these sounds I make are not beautiful in themselves, they gesture toward something - toward the kind of beauty that is evident in a dissonant chord: the charm of an accent.  A necessary contrast, a drama –


May the waves of my breath, and the surrounding silence, penetrate your chest cavity and finger the hollowness there. May I make you aware of the disruption of molecules – which is heat, after all.


Rachel Brown

Image (c) 2013 Rachel Brown


Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore: Cobalt Blue



Cobalt blue! Whose
very name alone would
make me a believer, but whose
color in transparent glass
against light from a window

lifts the mind to a fantasy of
deep darkness, of
sea-depths, undersides of
sunken hulls, treasure,
deepsea tropical caverns,
night. But

night with a holy radiance,
cloisters, Mediterranean
monasteries, Greek
bottles on high walls overlooking
the brighter blue sea -- 

cobalt blue glass!

Shadowy translucence!

Sexual celestial!

During the day:



Nice Art One

Image (c) 2013 Nice Art



Diane Sherry Case

The first spot of sunlight after my sister's death fell on the peach tree outside my front door. I had not perceived life in color for months. And suddenly there was my favorite fruit, abundant, as many peaches as I could eat. My favorite hues of sunset and the texture of velvet. I sat on my porch and let the sticky juice run down my chin and mingle with tears of grief. I made primal sounds like a famished baby and devoured one luscious peach after another, amazed, simply amazed that life goes on, life goes on.



Nice Art Two

Image (c) 2013 Nice Art


Bruce Moody: With Elephants

With elephants everything

A cascade of cliff,
on four limber pillars.

A fog of stone
always slowly
moving west.

A strolling Niagara.

Wearing a wardrobe
of loose-fitting determination,
she looms 
her great sweet 

You have felt their stone-tough, 

It snouts around like the foot of a snail. 
until it clamps the morsel of crackerjack,
which it, 
like an undersea thing, 
and confidently
and insouciantly
and speedily
into its heart-shaped maw.

Bad for the tusks?

Well, elephant dentists and nutritionists say
Elephants must eat 
for their health and satisfaction,
every day,
of popcorn,
a silo. 

So who am I to lecture an elephant – 
vegan as she is – 
about weight-loss?

Elephants remember
to diet on whole savannahs. 
And toss their mighty heads about,
making gales with their ears

and, with their Cyrano noses,
announce ––



Nice Art Three

Image (c) 2013 Nice Art

Rachel Dacus

Nissa speaks in kisses.
A dog’s mouth isn’t made for English, 
so she sounds her vowels with swipes 
of tongue – that best pink instrument. 
She covers the face, the lips 
from which my voice emerges
and patiently investigates
the curves, tasting the salt 
of meaning behind my ear, 
pressing on the place
that looses my giggles,
which I am sure she knows
as her real name.


Nice Art Four

Image (c) 2013 Nice Art



Surrealist Café Two: La Vie Avec Les Animaux

On today's menu, the results of our second Surrealist Café community collage. Readers will recall that we asked you to walk into a cafe (or a spot that animals frequent) precisely at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 29, and record, in whatever medium you chose (poetry, prose, drawing, photography, etc.), your interchange with an animal. We suspect most of you didn't follow the rules about time and space, but nonetheless, these contributors seized the time, and amazed us with their devotion to les animaux. All contributions are (c) 2011 by their individual creators.


       *     *     *     *  

Suki Kitchell Edwards, passing through New Orleans, USA:


       *     *     *     *

Scott MacFarlane, near LaConner, WA, USA:

“Bear Box”

Can replica serve as artifact?  The Northwest Indian bentwood box––with stylized bear design wrapped around four sides––hides in the clutter beside the register at the Rexville Grocery.  Those pens sticking out the top were not native but reinforce how functionality was a trait of this rich art form.

Down the road from the Swinomish tribal casino, this is the prehistoric land of the Northwest Coast Indian.  The red-and-black design with tertiary ovoids portrays a bear.  The little ears differentiate it from an Orca design that would display stylized flukes. 

A half-dozen miles from here as raven flies, killer whales swim.  However, this totemized design––Tlingit perhaps––derives not from here, but from the tribal turf we now call Southeast Alaska.  This design style was more formalized than local Salish art.

When I entered the Rexville, three aging hippies sitting at the counter glanced up and resumed talking.  The pencil holder had caught my eye.  Thirty-three years earlier at the Burke Museum on the UW campus, I had helped touch up these boxes, really a diminutive replica of a native bentwood artifact.  Clear cedar had been silk-screened, notched, bent and assembled just down the hall from Bill Holm’s office in the basement.  Holm was the non-native who devoted years codifying the principles behind Northwest Coastal Indian Art.  He wrote the book. 

          *     *     *     *


Stuart Balcomb, Venice, CA, USA: 



The vet allowed me to hold her
during the injection.
She was deaf, blind, very much in pain.
I know she could sense my heart beating,
her nose against my chest
as her last few pulses faded into memory.
Wife and child couldn't bear to attend,
so I did the deed,
then carried the lifeless cargo back home
where I laid her to rest, deep in the yard,
and toasted her eternal gifts
with a teary glass of Beaujolais Nouveau.


        *     *     *     *

Joanne Warfield, "Birds, Flights of Fantasy," Venice, CA, USA:  


     *     *     *     *

Jennifer Genest, Long Beach, CA, USA:

The Foal
You were part of an outline when I was trying to understand something called, “character need.” Back then, your birth was merely a point in the plot, the thing all the characters moved toward.
I was taught that an animal couldn’t carry a story—not as a character. But you’ve been underneath this one, gestating, being my little ticking clock. I admit it, you were used; the situation of your impending birth provided a way for characters to do and feel all sorts of things. Things, maybe, that horses don’t care anything about.
You arrive at last on page 268, dark and wet in the straw, and I am overwhelmed with affection for you. But once again it is a human character that takes the stage, trying to breathe life into your still, newborn body. 
And here I am, greedy in this tender moment, using the opportunity to move the story forward, trying to decide whether you will stand to nurse or never stand at all, and what that means for each human involved, and I am hopelessly stuck, at least for now, in mourning every possibility, in honoring you, in trying to pull off a story that only unfolds when I feel all of this at once.


     *     *     *     *

Walt Calahan, Westminster, Maryland, USA:


       *     *     *     *  

Bruce Moody, Crockett, CA, USA:

     Les Animaux

 (for Amanda Sidonie Moody on her birthday)


There are always animals about.

Here, there, up, down,

always about. Wild.



Butterflies mating in front of everybody.

The squirrel taking over the roof.

The bird you failed to notice

or identify if you did

overreaching all expectations in the sky.


Consider their quiet absolute presence

like a fur you wear and have become accustomed to.


Consider the tortoiseshell cat next door

and the grey one.

and the other.


They are as impervious to us

as we to them.

We live in concourse with them

as we make our ways

cooperatively like folks on crowded streets


Neighbors we never notice.

Neither talking to one another nor to you.


They are indifferent to us as a species

to our names and souls,

dismissive of our wishes,

as we of theirs.


But they abound,

they abound all around us.

In the walls.

Underground as worms.

In the fields as unseen moles.


Ambitious for and seeking, ever seeking,

as we,



       *     *     *     *

Amy Waddell, Santa Monica, CA, USA:


Walk Lobster

Gérard de Nerval died on January 26, 1855 at the age of 46. That's not to say he did not enjoy a full life. A man who befriends a lobster, names that lobster and has the patience to walk said lobster every day has reaped life's riches in my book. Every day Thibault the lobster and Gérard the poet took air, as it were, in the gardens of Palais Royal in Paris. Sometimes their walks found them skirting the edges of the Seine. It is not clear if the blue silk ribbon that extended from Thibault's craw to Gérard's was necessary, or whether lobster or man determined the course of the walks. It is only sure that man and lobster walked together, sans pincer or boiling water-induced screams, for some years in old Paris.

"I have a liking for lobsters. They are peaceful, serious creatures. They know the secrets of the sea, they don't bark, and they don't gnaw upon one's monadic privacy like dogs do." 

--Gérard de Nerval.



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Edith Sorel, "Day of the Iguana," Key Largo, Florida, USA:



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Richard Beban, Aquarium Tropical de la Porte Dorée, Paris, France:




Surrealist Café #2, Les Animaux

He stands on the chair beside me, nuzzling my writing arm. He is so glad to be released from his overnight stay in the kitchen. In spite of his soft bed, fresh water and food, his litter box in the petit coin, he’d much rather sleep on our faces. But we need sleep, too.

He sounds like a little fire. I put down my pen, pick up the pink brush, and comb his white and gold fur. He lifts his face so I can get at the thick Elizabethan ruff beneath his chin. Marley, Marley.

When he’s happy, the fur puffs up around his face, and he reminds me of a bumblebee, drunk on pollen.

It’s too cold now in Paris to leave the windows open. And anyway, Marley’s not as interested in prowling on the ledge since the Tourterelles were evicted.




One morning, shortly after the first egg was hatched, we opened the curtains to see if their second egg had hatched. The older chick had been gobbling food for days.

The nest was gone. Gone. Our neighbors’ grimy window had been “cleaned,” that is, someone had opened it and rubbed a rag in careless circles, leaving swirls of dirt on the glass.

What had they done with the nest? Swept it out of the geranium box? Madame and Monsieur Tourterelle might have flown away, but the three-day-old chick could not have survived, and the egg would surely have smashed.

This was the first and only video we had of that chick.

We wanted to go down to their apartment and bang on the door. But the building is one adjacent to us, and we don’t have the entry code.

What kind of people, we wondered, cannot wait two weeks for two baby doves to gain the strength to fly, before sweeping aside a nest?

Had they seen Richard’s camera pointed at their window, and felt paranoid? No, he’d made sure there were no humans around when he photographed the doves.

So hard-hearted; they were hard-hearted. Can anyone be callous towards animals and birds, and tender towards humans?

What do you think?

To celebrate the life of the Tourterelles, and to kick off a second Surrealist Café event, in which you readers participate in Paris Play, we ask the following: 

On Saturday, October 29th, at 1 p.m. in your time zone, go to your favorite café, and write or photograph or draw or compose a tune about an animal, or fish, or bird you see that day, or one who is dear to you, or an imaginary beast, or your totem animal. Write or photograph or paint from a human perspective, or from the animal’s point of view. Don’t be intimidated if you’re not an artist. Last Surrealist Café, every contribution was imaginative.

Send it to us by e-mail the following Wednesday, November 2 (absolute drop-dead deadline), and we’ll post the best work on Paris Play Saturday, November 5th.

Marley just leapt back on the chair, nudged my arm, and started purring like a bonfire, like a champion Swiss yodeler.