Magazine | February 11, 2013, Issue


Last Night

If one sits on the steps of Sacré Coeur

     to see the city after dusk,

one sees, too, in the cold, each traveler:

   the silk-scarved men, distinct with musk;

 the ladies in flared miniskirts and tights,

    most often black or midnight blue,

occasionally punctuated — brights,

     or puce, or some unlikely hue.

 One sees the leathered packs with cigarettes

     on precipices blowing smoke.

One listens to musicians finger frets

     for famous songs, of rock or folk,

And smells some bitter andouille on the wind,

     grim and scraggly grass in cracks,

the perspiration of the olive-skinned,

     or warmly melted votive wax.

 Green macaron in hand, its mellow paste

     the flavor of pistachio –

like olive skin one cannot touch nor taste –

     in vain, one fights with vertigo.

The tourists photographing from a tier

     below, curved girlfriends striking poses,

roaming vendors proffer bottled beer

     and blood-red, long-stemmed roses.

As twilight deepens, one will then observe

     deposit, these distracted brash,

the emerald-drained merchandise they serve

     in bags hung on the fence for trash.

Perhaps unnoticed, wholly by surprise,

     a bottle will miss the bag, and break,

its broken shards outspread like distant eyes

     which cause some hazel heart to ache.

Upturned and staring from the chilly stone,

     the pieces render one aware

although surrounded, one is yet alone,

     by means of their green, absent glare.

 Attempting to escape from such a glower,

     one stands, walks to the west, the sight,

the tall seduction of the Eiffel Tower,

     alluring and aligned with light.

And from those heights, perhaps one then will wonder

     in silence, what it would be like

to fall beyond the fence, and tumble under

     this platform — plentiful — to strike

 some unidentified allée, to splatter

     the ground of Sacré Coeur beneath,

and if the dizzy mind would even matter

     to brittle bones, or grinding teeth.

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

The Small Presidency

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La Petite Guerre

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A Man Standing

On November 10, 1975, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed Resolution 3379, which declared Zionism a form of racism. After the vote, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the U.S. ambassador ...
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Old School

The most recent ancestors that humanity shares with chimpanzees and bonobos died about 6 million years ago. For almost all of our existence, we humans have lived in small hunter-gatherer ...
Politics & Policy

Medium, Not Rare

The tale of the whistleblower generally follows a predictable arc. There is the dreadful misbehavior, and the whistleblower’s shamefaced confession of his part in it. The whistle blows. The wrongdoing ...
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9/11 Aftermath

I came out of Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s riveting procedural about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, thinking that it was the best movie of 2012, but upon further ...


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Bailout Facts Mark Calabria’s “An End to Bailouts” (January 28) contains some interesting points, but it also contains a number of errors that substantially weaken the reliability of Mr. Calabria’s advice: 1.) ...
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‐ We wouldn’t be surprised if they lip-synched the oath of office, too. ‐ House Republican leaders have announced that they will raise the debt ceiling enough to let the federal ...

Inaugural Exegesis

Now that the president has laid out his agenda in broad, sweeping strokes — basically, solar-powered wedding chapels for gay marriages — we can get down to the business of ...
Politics & Policy


Last Night If one sits on the steps of Sacré Coeur      to see the city after dusk, one sees, too, in the cold, each traveler:    the silk-scarved men, distinct with musk;  the ladies ...
Happy Warrior

Every Man a Criminal

For Chris Matthews, the sob-sister sap who hosts MSNBC’s hilariously misnamed Hardball, President Obama’s inaugural address bore comparison to Lincoln at Gettysburg. Whether>Lincoln would have felt the same is doubtful. ...

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White House

The Dumbest Firing

Unsurprisingly for the former host of The Apprentice, Donald Trump has given us every variety of firing. There have been necessary firings (at three weeks, the ouster of Michael Flynn was long overdue), cruel firings (Rex Tillerson, check out Twitter), and spectacularly ill-advised firings (the cashiering of ... Read More
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‘We Will Reduce Abortion’

Conor Lamb’s success has revived interest in “I’m personally opposed, but.” It’s a rhetorical convention — a cliché, really — that many Catholic Democrats have resorted to ever since Mario Cuomo popularized it with his speech at Notre Dame in 1984, as Alexandra DeSanctis explained a few days ... Read More