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Ma bohème (my dysfunctional memory), 2004

Ever wondered what happened to all the poems we all painfully had to learn and recite in front of the class at primary school? Personally, I realised one day I could not remember any. The next day, the first strophe of "Ma Bohème" came back to my mind.

I went off with my hands in my torn coat pockets,
My overcoat too was becoming ideal,
I travelled beneath the sky, Muse! and I was your vassel,
Oh! dear me! what marvellous loves I dreamed of;

I immediately thought about writing the poem on little pieces of paper to sow them in the street but could not really explain why. Later on, I searched for the rest of the poem.

My only pair of breeches had a big hole in them,
Stargazing Tom Thumb, I sowed rhymes along the way,
My tavern was at the Sign of the Great Bear,
My stars in the sky rustled softly,
And I listened to them, sitting on the road-sides,
On those pleasant September evenings while I felt drops of dew
On my forehead like vigorous wine;
And while, rhyming among the fantastical shadows,
I plucked like the strings of a lyre the elastics
Of my tattered boots, one foot close to my heart.

I realised that I had not forgotten the end of the poem but it had only come back to my mind in a different way. The words were missing but the ideas were still there.

I wrote each verse on little labels and stuck them onto the pavement, on the bank of the Thames, near the millennium bridge.

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