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The Execution of Saint-Just at Thermidor

In his favourite coat, immaculately smart,
as if invited—as if death were at home
to him that day—he played a Frenchman’s part

as everything went Roman. Robespierre,
who’d managed two whole letters of his name,
began to bleed to death with a frantic stare

while all the other suicides manqué
messily followed suit. But Louis-Antoine
was beaming to himself as if to say

this too was written. Then he fixed his gaze
on the Declaration of the Rights of Man
where it hung like some old print from the old days,

and he said: Well, we did that. Sported a smile
at the barber’s, in the carriage, on the stage,
in the spotlight, even afterwards a while.

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