Henry Israeli
Blame the French


Whatever you do

the French did first.

Whatever you say

the French said first.

Whatever you wear

the French wore first.

You see the pattern?

There is nothing in life

that the French did

not do first. Nothing.

Can you think of anything?

Wrong. The French

did it first. Say what?

The French already said that.

You saw something

original in a film once?

Then you never saw

Renoir or Cocteau.

You read something?

Zola, Baudelaire, Rimbaud,

de Beauvoir, take your pick.

Food? Don’t even go

there, wise guy.

You had a dream

after which you awoke

amazed at the veracity

of your complicated mind?

Get over yourself.

The French dreamed it

long before you.

Everything you’ve done

in the bedroom—

I’ll simply say, the French,

and waste no time

humiliating you further.

Everything you ever

encounter or experience

in this short-long life

you may thank or blame

the French for,

take your pick.



But, for god’s sake,

pity the French, will you?

For they have no one

to praise, no one to fault.

They are doomed to

the boredom of


When a Frenchman

looks in the mirror

he sees no reflection,

nothing whatsoever,

for there is nothing

to reflect upon.

As the originator of all

he can only,

as Descartes said

more eloquently, be.

A Frenchwoman can

never experience

the joy of being told

she looks French,

for that is a vile

(or as the French

say, vil)  redundancy,

and holds no logic

for the French mind.

It is like kissing your

own ghost and falling

into an ethereal abyss

of self-referential absurdity,

which is, after all,

typically French.


Found In Volume 44, No. 03
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  • Israeli
Henry Israeli
About the Author

Henry Israeli’s books include New Messiahs (Four Way Books: 2002) and Praying to the Black Cat (Del Sol: 2010) and god's breath hovering across the waters (forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2016). Israeli is also the founder and editor of Saturnalia Books (www.saturnaliabooks.com). He lives outside of Philadelphia with his wife and daughters.