Friday, July 24, 2020

The Last Bitter Coffee

The last bitter coffee
in Naples, the last sip
of this life I live
vicariously, a traveller’s
life, denizen of cities
lived like dreams
,one at a time,
everything in the moment,
but soon forgotten.

And, like a miracle
of San Gennaro himself,
this is the best coffee
of them all, and a fitting
postscript to the sweetest
dream I have dreamt.

O, how good it tastes,
How strong and jittery it makes me
For the train ride to come,
for tomorrow
and tomorrow
and all the tomorrows
to come.


"The Last Romantics." Seen in Forcella, Naples.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Worse than Ozymandias

Nothing says fuck you
quite like a castle.
it stands there
daring you
to fuck with it,
to assail
its unassailable heights
,its unreachable ramparts,
but no matter
how many castellani
you manage to kill,
the castle remains.
And when it’s yours,
your own conquered
fuck you
rising from the earth or the sea
as far into the sky
as any human construction,
you’re trapped in it
until the next barbarian
comes along
,takes it from you,
and locks himself
in its dank


Castel Sant'Elmo in Naples. Angevin, built around 1275.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Hymn to Partenope

Partenope, predatory
as any earthly creature
,who all must eat,
omnivorous and unable
to fish—her bird wings got in the way
of the wire—created the art
of singing. To snare a man. Any man.
Not for loving—
she sang of other matters
of poverty perhaps, or camaraderie,
or the moonlight on the turbulent sea
—anything but romance, anything but love.

For she and her two sisters
had grown tired of poking their beaks
into the dirt, of grubbing
for scraps, and the island
was too rocky to plant. Anthropologists
confirm civilization impossible
under such circumstances.

            Not even Circe’s
Resources—a hut, a stall,
or the power of magic
to protect them, the sirens
did all that they could do.

Until Odysseus undid it all.
This is how my city was born in blood
And death and singing.