William Notter

Père Lachaise Cemetery, 1991: William Notter

Père Lachaise Cemetery, 1991

Never mind the ordinary French,

philosophers, composers, authors,

the guillotine’s inventor and even

the founder of paleontology.

Jim Morrison is twenty years gone,

if not living the dream in South America,

and this whole cemetery is his monument—

graffiti on the proper stones and mausoleums

marks the way to his grave,

The Lizard King and Jim This Way.

Gathered at the grave are pilgrims

who barely were alive when Jim

joined the 27 Club in his Paris bath.

A pile of joints and wilting flowers, a painting

of the singer in his prime on someone’s

marble tomb, and center stage, two longhairs

leaning against the headstone,

drinking wine and arguing in French,

the kind of discussion so deep it could only be sparked

by conspiracy theories and rock and roll.

The loudest one’s vest has Jimi Hendrix

painted on the back with a mushroom cloud

of day-glow hair.  The other flips a cigarette

into the flowers, pulls a black and white rat

out of his denim jacket and feeds it

scraps of bread on top of Morrison’s stone.

Frustrated agitator, poster child

for sex instead of revolution,

you left some songs that make us nod or shiver,

poems that can make us cringe.

We celebrate you here today

with spray paint, gouges in the stone

where someone chiseled at the anchors

of your marble bust and took it home,

a rat that stands on hind legs and dances,

turning wobbly circles for bits of baguette.