Thoughts While Visiting the Grand Opera in Paris
Napoleon scoured continents
for matched and colored marbles,
fanned them proudly as a winning hand,
raked in the chips, raised the stakes
in mosaic stones. The cascade
of the grand staircase, the flash
of gems, whetted smiles,
calibrations of disgrace,
fans wafting scandal and musk,
whispers of taffeta.
a chorus of the poor reminds Napoleon
he has a throat.
He beheaded his own
Presidency, crowned himself
where Liberté once lofted baskets of heads
over the crowd’s roar: a sliced
throat sucking air.
Neon expresses the values
we hold dear. Every billboard
a new obligation of freedom.
Models smile as if shopping
has cured them of pain.
A man, kneeling on his cap, stares
at the ground, willing food to appear,
clutches a crayoned sign
informing us at no cost
that he is dying of hunger.
A century later, Marc Chagall
paints the bounce of dance and ping
of violin, over Nappy’s nymphs and fauns.
World war has banished the canned glories.
Malraux hires the sunny Jew
to float iron and fly goats
who pipe and frolic.
is all we can touch
of an Emperor’s garments.
And our own sad leader?
Lover of pudgy girls.
What has he bequeathed that a century later
genius might revise?
In today’s paper he surveys an earthquake
somewhere, sporting a lei of flowers
from brown-skinned supplicants whose real
poverty is the need of this unplugged
celebrity. Disguising his hunger as a gift,
he smiles and waves, preening
for the adoring mother in his mind,
tipping his head as if pulled
off plumb by a crown
Causes Peter Coyote Supports
The Global Security Institute, Native Sovereignty Issues, Wild Earth( Natural Corridors Program),