Posts Tagged ‘bronze button’

Last night there was a total lunar eclipse, with the moon shining silver, and then amber. I awoke from the winter solstice in the mood to tap-dance around public squares. I imagine gently clicking out a tune with my feet against large pottery planters and along low wall-tops. I’m getting ready to go out dancing; I’m listening to Let’s Misbehave, have tacked bright copper pennies to the worn soles of my brogues, and am dressing for sartorial success in a midnight blue velveteen three piece wide-labeled suit adorned with a dozen Italian bronze buttons, a jaunty wide mustard, deep blue, and Kelly green stripped bow tie, a white starched shirt, a Kelly green and mustard hounds-tooth fedora, and Kelly green socks.
“If you want a future, darlin’,
Why don’t you get a past?
‘Cause that fateful moment’s comin’ at last…
We’re all alone, no chaperon
Can get our number
The world’s in slumber–let’s misbehave!!!
They say that bears have love affairs
And even camels
We’re men and mammals–let’s misbehave!!!”

(By the illustrious Monsieur Cole Porter)


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I am taking a walking tour of the North Beach area in San Francisco. They have arranged a special midnight tour, in which we are granted admittance to Coit Tower. I’m wearing a double-breasted ankle-length navy wool coat with 11 rows of bronze dome buttons marching up the front. It is a luxury to be there without being crowded. We gaze in stunned admiration at the WPA murals, as the trench-coated guide talks about the eccentric and infamous Lillie Hitchcock Coit and the history of her legacy. I remember Lillie’s admiration of renowned firefighters, and giggle as Hilaire Belloc’s “Matilda” runs through my head.
“Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity.
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the Telephone
And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London’s Noble Fire-Brigade.”

(By Hilaire Belloc, 1870-1953)

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It is autumn and I have just left L’Hotel, the small Parisian hotel where I am staying until I find a more suitable and permanent address. I wave good-bye to the stout mustached Gertrude Stein look-alike proprietor, and slouch towards Boulevard St. Germain. As befits my current state of mind, my ankle boots are scuffed and desolation is in the air. Even the cooing pigeons fail to cheer me up, and each dry fallen leaf is a reminder of my literary failure. I frown, brushing stray croissant flakes from my purple velveteen suit jacket with a limp hand. If bronze could easily tarnish, the simple bronze buttons on my double-breasted jacket would be green. There is a brash man on the corner soliloquizing about Stevie Smith, and I catch the tail end of “Not Waving, But Drowning”. I’m so glad that they have picked a piece that reflects my current emotional turpitude that I flick them a coin. Nothing cheers like poetry and shopping, so I turn into a millinery shop for a new chapeau to accentuate my dapper suit.
“Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.”


Simple Bronze Button (suitable for Paris)

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It is a glorious night in the narrow city park. The moon is full and shines high, the wind is a little strong but carries the promise of autumn and winter rains, and people promenade in groups of two & three. There was a parade earlier in the day and sequined stragglers scamper past, looking chilled but giddy. I wrap my orange, violet, and gray striped wool scarf around my neck more closely, and button up the front of my vintage green herringbone Norfolk jacket. One of the bronze buttons is hanging loosely, so I yank it free and slip it in my pocket to sew on later. I nibble on another salted caramel from my bag of candies. A jaunty woman walking a fawn-colored Greyhound and wearing a tattered top hat saunters by whistling “Lili Marlene” in perfect tune. I wish I could whistle.
“Underneath the lantern by the barrack gate,
Darling I remember the way you used to wait;
‘Twas there that you whispered tenderly,
That you lov’d me, you’d always be,
My Lilli of the lamplight,
My own Lilli Marlene….
When we are marching
In the mud and cold,
And when my pack seems
More than I can hold,
My love for you renews my might,
I’m warm again,
My pack is light,
It’s you Lili Marlene,
It’s you Lili Marlene.”

(by Hans Leip, Norbert Shultz, and Tommie Connor)

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