I’ve gone from looking out
at St Francis’ Basilica in Assisi
to Pigelle in Paris. I’m down the road
from Moulin Rouge and my room is called
Toulouse Lautrec after Henri.
I’ve outlived him. I’ve outlived St Francis too.
It’s my birthday tomorrow,
technically it already is in New Zealand.

On offer at La Villa Royale are Lovebox sets.
In the ‘Paris with Love’ for €35
comes massage oil, rose and litchi,
a feather tickler, ‘Ring for a Kiss’ bell,
a black garter, satin blindfold,
temporary tattoo ‘I kissed you there’
two bracelets as a souvenir, lubricant,
and condom – singular.

For €40
comes the ‘game of seven cardinal sins’,
a pair of elegant handcuffs,
raspberry jam with hints of champagne,
burlesque nipple tassels, a soft whip,
premium vibrating ring, lubricant and
condom, singular, again.

The fact sheet on Toulouse Lautrec
in the English ‘traduction’ offers
an introduction which includes,
‘he was well-known for
grabbing people while doing or making
things.’ A tradition of Trump-esque
reduction but all such unction aside,
from my plush room
across the road opposite the metro,
sex stores, pharmacies, and cafes,

an older women sits on the street,

and a young man with a dog, begs.
I can shout them a €1 baguette

or more, next time,
with all the money I’ll save
from the Loveboxes,

and my two baguettes worth
already given in the offertory at Sacré-Cœur…

with that distinctive taste of wafer,
I can confirm is the same flavour in Italy,
France, and New Zealand.

My curtains are open…
I’m a diva up here,
letting the street come in,
forgetting it is so and pick my nose.