The Form of a City Changes Faster, Alas,
than the Human Heart (excerpt)

The Gioconda

To see Mona
Lisa, real fans don’t trot
off to the world’s end, no not
even to the Louvre

They go where Rue de
La Rochefoucauld crosses Rue
Dame-de-Lorette, they
step into the café
and there she is

The painting’s on the wall
in beige and cream
the frame beige-cream plus a touch of orange
the canvas signed
in the artist’s own hand
It’s Mona all right
the Mona Lisa of Mérou.

Emile Mérou? Eugene Mérou? Ernest Mérou?
could be Emily, Eugenia, Ernestine?
who knows?

Behind her well washed glass
Mona Lisa looks content
she looks at me
she smiles
without the littlest condescent
without an atom of mystery
all placid
a beauty

Well whatchexpect?—it’s Mona Lisa!

Real fans don’t trot off to
world’s-end or
the Select-Bar at the Rotonde
or deep into the jungle nor
to the islands of the Sonde
nor to Peru
but from the Sacré Coeur it’s just a few
steps, Mona Lisa’s on view

Mona Lisa, Lisa Mona,
Mona Lisa by Mérou

let’s give a-one and a-two
for Lisa, the



O I see you
with your big tit in the shape of the cross

but you’re seven babybottles!
I see you all perfectly from down the hill
in Square Saint-Pierre
three little babybottles
three medium babybottles
and one big fat one

It’s evening
the glorious sky scoots over
so the angels can come and suck at 
three little babybottles
three middling babybottles

But you
big babybottle
you are for Baby Jesus
may he not bruise his lips
on your cross-shaped tit


Informal Intimate Ode to the Copy of the Standard Meter 
in the Rue de Vaugirard

Under the arcades in Rue de Vaugirard, between Rue Garancière and Rue Férou, one reads:


The National Convention, in order to encourage use of the metric system, had sixteen standard meters (in marble) placed in the busiest spots of Paris.

The meters were installed between February 1796 and December 1797. This is one of the last 2 in Paris and the only one still in its original place.

time has passed, old friend
since we first met
I was twelve and you
one hundred forty-eight
it was winter
nineteen hundred forty-four
it was cold
the fountains in the Luxembourg were frozen
the statue population 
asses of the lady statues 
all white with white
frost on
white marble (where it wasn’t green)
and so cold

I stretched out on the ground
to be parallel to you
to measure myself
against an exact measure
much more conclusive than the tapes
or metersticks
or strings
my father used
to check how my
brothers my sister and I
were growing
if not visible to the eye
visible at least by lines penciled
month after month
on the kitchen door frame

I trusted you
I trusted the Convention
that had placed you
and your fifteen siblings
at various spots in Paris
so that citizens would get used
to contemplating
the ten-millionth part
of a quarter of the earth’s meridian
I never believed in the platinum-iridium prototype
in some building in Breteuil 
even less the absurd story
of wavelength
but I believed in you

now I’m old
I’ve grown stopped growing begun to ungrow
and that’s only the beginning before it all ends
with a notable absence of all measurement
but you
I’d say you haven’t changed
you haven’t budged
an inch
if I dare use this term
barely some expansion and contraction
from unavoidable heat-and-cold
because of nights days seasons
for me you’ve stayed the same 
dignified, thin, tense, straight, calibrated in decimeters, 
     between your two tips
     topped by your family name, METER, by your Convention hat, 

spring nineteen
hundred ninety-
four I’m here to visit you
as from time to time
when I happen to be in the area
you won’t mind if
I don’t lie on the ground this time
at your feet which aren’t feet
people in the street might find it bizarre
for a gentleman of my age
even in front of the Luxembourg Palace
where the senators 
of the Fifth Republic doze
this might seem
an ill-measured action


Impasse de Nevers

né, nay, nay, nell, nay, né on, neon, nor on,
need, neo, new, n’you, knee you, nu, nuance, nuke,
navy, navel, no well, no, no, no way, now, now,
no, nay, nay, nudge, nude, nub, nubile, numb, neume
not may, not my, mai, may, moo, menial, nil,
nemial, nay may, nave, name, no aim, noon, nose,
nosegay, nude, neu, neuter, nog, noggin,
nous, new, mew, mew, meeow, minion, minime, nimbus,
nimble, nimmer, ni meurt, number, nummer, mummer,
moon, no on, noon, no, nay, nouveau, nova,
n’eve, ne, nev, neve, never, never


A Bit of Sociology

158 saints, 33 female saints,
popes, 8 cardinals, 11 abbots, 3 abbesses, 1 canoness, 1 rector,
priests, preachers,
Capuchins & Carmelites, Celestines, Recollects
Ursulines, Franciscans,
1 commander-in-chief,

princes, 3 dauphins, 1 princess, 6 counts, 1 countess, knights, 
1 Lord,

4 presidents,

8 marshals, 64 generals, at least 14 colonels, 2 lieutenant-
   colonels, 3 commandants, 8
captains, 4 lieutenants, 4  sergeant-majors, 1 corporal,

1 agent,

plus 3 judges,

1 banker, entrepreneurs, goldsmiths,
1 single slave trader,

at least 41 doctors,

shepherds — & two shepherdesses,
bons vivants, 2 butchers, bakers,
coal merchants, hunters, lime-burners, vinegar-makers, 
   1 crêpe-maker, 1 cooper,
1 mailman, 2 mowers,1 falconer, farmers, landscapers, 
   1 glazier,
gardeners, sailors, fiddlers, millers,
fish-dealers, 1 haymaker, 1 potter,

4 professors,

painters, poets,

curious, very curious, this distribution
of the population
in the streets
of Paris


Counting Out Rhyme for the Year (Two) Thousand

To Paul Braffort

Impasse of the TWO angels
Street of the THREE sisters
Street of the FOUR sons
Street of the FIVE diamond cutters

Street of the SEVEN acres
Street of May EIGHT 1945

Square of June EIGHTEEN 1940

Square of August TWENTY-FIVE 1944

Street of July TWENTY-NINE

Square of June Eighteen 1940

Square of August Twenty-five 1944

Street  of May Eight 1945

Paris, Paris, your city fathers
can’t count to 2000



it’s raining

it stops raining

it’s nice

the sun’s shining
you can see


on Rue BLEUE
on Rue du Chemin-VERT

on Place du Château-ROUGE

a rainbow full of holes



The Impasse du BOEUF is in the IVth
in the Vth the Impasse des BOEUFS
goes from the singular ox to the plural
as we go up one arrondissement


Avenue DU BOIS is in the XVIth
and it’s in the XIXth we find Rue DES BOIS
with wood we jump three arrondissments



Plesent Streets

berber berets in berger street! 
bergs & berms in bergère street!
beer in des bergers street!

Celts & cells in cels street!
cement cepes in cépré street!
checkered cheeks in chevert street!
clement in clément street!
clerks in cler street!
credes & credence in crèche street!
crests in cretet street!

delete delbet street!
descend desgenettes street!
desert desprez street!
drench dresses in drevet street!

ebony in ebelmen street!
&eblé street!
elder eels in de l’échelle street!
ere ergs err in ernest-lefèvre street!
esteemed in de l’est street!
Esther’s in d’estrées street!
ether ettle in etex street!
events ever even in des évettes street!

fennel ferments des fêtes street!
freckles frequent fresnel street!
germs in gerbert street!
jests in gervex street!
green grebe greed in de grenelle street!
greek greegrees in grenet street!

Hellenes hellbent in hélène street!
then henpecked in henner street!
Hermes in hermel street!
hertz in herschel street!
& de hesse street!

jennets jet in jenner street!

kelp keeps well keller street!
kestrels in kepler street!

these lecterns in leclerc street!
get left in lefebre street!

these legends in legendre street!
the length of leneveux street!
these lepers in leredde street!
these lesser letters of de lesseps street!
these level leverets of levert street!

the messes of de metz street!
the meter of meyerbeer street!

the nerve! de nesle street!
nevertheless, de nevers street!

pecked peclet street!
peeled pêle-mêle pelée street!
perched pernelle street!
perfected perrée street!
petted petel street!
petrels in petrel street!
presence preserves de presles street!

the rents in de rennes street!

eh! serpents in serpente street!
eh! serene in serret street!
eh! severe seven in seveste street!

eh! terns in des ternes street!
eh! theme: thérèse street!

eh! verbs in verderet street!
eh! Verner’s in vernet street!

weekends in weber street!

de l’yvette



Licence Portrait of Paris 1992

February, Rue Soufflot               903 JTJ 75
29/04                                 48 JWW
  "    Rue Clément-Marot             253 JWX
05/05  Rue de Parme                  848 JWX
06/05  Opéra                         485 JWX
07/05  Rue de Douai                  311 JXJ
13/05  Rue de Clichy                 688 JXJ
16/05  Trinité                       336 JXK
17/05  Franklin-Roosevelt            182 JXM
04/06  Rue Marx-Dormoy               479 JXY
06/06  Saint-Lazare                  362 JXZ
  "    Rue du Havre                  730 JYF
15/06  Rue de Clichy                 407 JYX
04/07  ?                             653 JZC
12/07  ?                             219 JZF
16/07  Trinité                       851 JZG
17/07  Bd. Saint-Martin              754 JZM
19/07  Beaubourg                     571 JZP
20/07  Place de l’Europe             867 JZR
10/08  Champs-Élysées                939 JZR
11/08  Gare de Lyon                  146 JZW
13/08  Pont Royal                    263 KAF
09/08  Rue Lepic                     4165 WK 75



Ah! what silence
In Rue de Valence!
But what alarm
In Rue de Parme!

Calm ah! how calm
In Rue des Palmes
Such agitation on
Rue Brancion

Ah! how serene
Is the Rue de Seine!
But what disquietude 
Boulevard de Dixmude!

Ah! trouble stem to stern
Along Avenue de Ternes
For ultimate rest
Rue Gît-le-Coeur’s still best.



Rue d’Amsterdam

Rue d’Amsterdam goes down goes up 
Goes up and down it does, my street 
I go up or go down Rue d’Amsterdam 
Go down go up my Amsterdam Street 

We say we go up say we go down 
Streets that go up and streets going down 
Say it even of hesitant streets 
Or streets on absolutely level ground 

We go up streets on the macadam
Walk on the sidewalk down the street
So I go down my Rue d’Amsterdam
So I climb my Amsterdam Street

What is it goes down and what goes up
Goes down or not in every street?
Is it the houses that go up and up
Or falling fall toward the bottom of the street?

It’s the houses, they go  by number 
The one on the door that faces the street
If the street goes down so do the numbers
And if the numbers go up so does the street

But why do we say that numbers go up
Climbing from naught to infinite height?
Because numbers form a street of numbers
The street of whole numbers outdistancing night

Long indeed the high road of numbers
The high abstract road, no end to that way
You go up you go down you count and recount
The world-long night where all numbers are gray

But maybe our streets are just shadows
Shadows of numbers that fall in the rain 
Remnants and ends of the street of numbers
Going up going down while our lives remain