Life, back then, was more glamorous. Bridges
over the Seine were always bathed in fog,
old men draped in long black capes whispered
to each other about Classics and the coming

war, painters' studios looked out on rooftops
and brick chimneys, writers spent their days
in dank cafés and always wrote in pen.
The ugliest, most foul-mouthed prostitute

standing on a street corner still cast a long,
romantic shadow into the lamplit night.
Tough guys wore caps and tucked their clean white shirts
neatly into their pants. Work was something

to pass the daytime hours. And everyone smoked:
lovers and boxers and ballet dancers,
cops and robbers and naked artist models,
chorus girls at the Folies-Bergère, even nuns.

To think that time's sole consolation
is nostalgia -- what unwelcome news!
But name just one photographer who hasn't
set down, in black and white, that truth.