Paris on the Kuskokwim

by Michael Faubion

Gather round me people, I'll tell you what I heard--
All across Alaska, Bethel is a dirty word.
But those of us who live here know the shocking truth:
It's a special case, it's a happenin place, though it's homely and uncouth.

It's the center of art and culture for many a roadless mile.
You can acquire a taste for the rural pace, but you gotta stick around a while.
No, it ain't exactly heaven; sometimes it's downright grim.
But to me it'll always be Paris on the Kuskokwim.

It's the hub of the Y-K Delta, got three big grocery stores,
cultural diversity and opportunities galore.
When you're comin in from Kwethluk, around the river bend,
The Bethel lights are a beautiful sight--Paris on the Kuskokwim.

We got a radio Eiffel Tower, a museum to rival the Louvre.
Taxi cabs up the ying-yang, everybody's always on the move.
We may not have a Moulin Rouge, but the Actor's Guild is keen,
Amenities like ARCS TV and international cuisine.

We got the K-300, a real dog-sled Grand Prix,
Eskimo high fashion and a port facility.
They got the Versailles Palace, we got the Kusko Inn.
You don't have to say "Champs Eleesys," just "Paris on the Kuskokwim."

It's the hub of the Y-K Delta, got lotsa things to do.
The roads are rife with the gay night life on the left bank of Brown's Slough.
Were dippin' for smelts after breakup, watchin' the barge come in,
Frolic and fun in the midnight sun--Paris on the Kuskokwim.

It's the metropolis of the region, what we ain't got you don't need.
Folks come to town from upriver and down, they're a special Bush-bred breed.
For Mink Festival in the winter, Camai dancin in the spring--
Drums and fans, but no can-cans, furs and kuspuks are the thing.

It's the hub of the Y-K Delta, Alaska's risin' star
May never be as gay as Paree, it's just too damn bizarre.
We have our good days and our bad days, some days we're just weathered in.
It's the Twilight Zone, but it's our home, Paris on the Kuskokwim.

It's the hub of the Y-K Delta, got a hospital and a Bastille,
A university, cash economy, it's incredible, it's surreal.
When you're comin' in from Anchorage on a jet with all your friends,
Just sigh and say, "We're on our way to Paris on the Kuskokwim."
Just smile and say, "We're on our way to Paris on the Kuskokwim."

©1996, Far Beyond Publishing

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