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= On Saint Ronan Street =

Romantic Tale of a Love Triangle by John T. Cullen

Homages include John Updike and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

A Young Poet and his Loves in a New England College Town: Umbrellas of Cherbourg redux I didn't realize until decades later that the tone was both romantic and melancholy, with that same sweetly bitter (bittersweet) Gallic twist one sees in some French movies and novels. It dawned on me: I had pretty much captured a spirit very similar to that of director Jacques Demy in his unique 1964 romantic musical drama *The Umbrellas of Cherbourg*

The most amazing clone story of all, and it was entirely unintentional. As a young U.S. Army soldier stationed in Cold War West Germany during the 1970s, my primary job was at a remote headquarters office where I worked doing awards and decorations as well as general officer correspondence. Evenings and weekends, being alone and single and far from The World, as we called that remote North American homeland, I would return to the office all alone, in an empty building haunted by the ghosts of Hitler's soldiers long ago. My focus was not on them, but on the homeland. Like any young G.I. far from home, I was alone, lonely, homesick, and yearning for past loves (women I dated in college and after). During those years, I wrote many pooems and short stories and a few novels. One of the novels was a manuscript title Jon+Merile, which almost but not quite found its way into print, so it languished for decades. After it sat gathering dust in my garage in Southern California, I rediscovered it, read it, and realized I had a little gem there. More info soon.

Many Ironies. One of the many unintended ironies is the military element in both my novel and in Jacques Demy's film *The Umbrellas of Cherbourg*. See the Wikipedia Page for more information. I was a young soldier far from home, stationed in West Germany during peacetime duty post-Vietnam Era. In the movie, the stunning young woman (played by Catherine Deneuve) and her handsome young paramour (Nino Castelnuevo) are in the throes of a ravishing love affair. Then he is called away to fight in France's Algerian War. There is, to begin with, something profound and moving about the concept of young men sent by their countries to fight and possibly die in distant wars with ambiguous purpose. Some of my Army buddies were Vietnam veterans, with at least one carrying shrapnel and other (some unseen) wounds. In the movie, she realizes she is pregnant; but when she writes to him, his replies are noncommittal at best. Think of it not in light (or dark) of the notorious American puritanisme, but more in terms of a more Gallic sense of c'est la vie, it's life, it's fate, what can you do, these things happen…read the description at Wikipedia, detailing how and why this is considered by many critics to be one of the top 100 non-English language films of all time. I had no idea of any of this. I wrote a fictional, imaginative love story totally invented in my head, in which my spirit soared away with the airplanes whistling softly far overhead at night, heading home to The World. There is more to this story, to be related soon.

Read More Click for this page …as I type these words in my home office of 35+ years in wonderful San Diego CA, memory compells me to pull out the companion volume of *On Saint Ronan Street* (my 1976 novel). The companion volume is *Cymbalist Poems*, which contains the last of my poetry written by about age 27. That's a long story in itself. At right, I will display one of those poems written back in the 1970s at Panzerkaserne (Tank Barracks, referring to its original occupants, the Wehrmacht). After they were defeated, the French Army for a time held the post, but yielded it to the U.S. Army although that part of Germany was in the French Zone of Occupation not once, but twice (1920s, and after 1945).

Some Late Hour

Loneliness is trumpets. Fire in loins.
Silence is music, the creeping time.
I need to embrace, but no one is here.
I know no sweet soul lost in mine.
No arms and eyes warmly reach for me.

I am alone in a foreign land,
In a city others hold dear since childhood.

That I left my own dear city
means my soul is hot and dry, a
fevered thing yearning for water.

Home is far, far, on the day side of the world
and all the unseen whistling jets
are going there tonight.

No one can embrace the moon or the stars;
their warmth is shed elsewhere.

No one can hear the silence or the fire,
the trumpets , the music, heat in belly
and soul like baking stones.

No one can ask time, no one speaks with
silence, no one can be happy alone.


Luxembourg, European Union, United States

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