Saturday, February 23, 2008

just checking

today we rented a car, were returning it
and were ten feet from the entrance to the car rental place
on a busy street, turn signal on

twenty feet farther a group of police stood
one flagged us to pull ahead, i told meri to just turn
i waved no to the cop, we're turning in here, be sensible
"no , this is police work, drive forward and stop"

meri did what they said.
while the first cop was asking her for documents etc.
i got out of the car and asked another cop, "who's the boss?"
he was the boss

"why stop us, we were turning back there?"
"it's a car check"
"there are plenty of cars for you to check." i pointed
indeed, many others were speeding by

"where are you from?, he asked
not answering his question, i responded, "i'm a citizen of roma"
that stopped him. he didn't expect me to yell at him in italian.
and that citizen of roma stuff always works

"you know this is ridiculous," i said.
"well, this is how things are done in italy," he replied.
i said, "i know."

and that is the whole truth, your honor

Friday, February 22, 2008

the pantheon

marcus agrippa is credited for first building this ancient shrine
destroyed by fire in 80 a.d., built again in 125 a.d.
the oldest standing domed structure in rome
perhaps the best preserved building of its age in the world

erected, destroyed, rebuilt again, it's original purpose unknown
a circular building, a temple dedicated to all the gods
and for the people, who have always come to this place

the interior a perfect circle, the diameter and height are 43 meters
inside, to the center, below the circular vaulted roof opening, called the great eye, the oculus, over 8 meters in diameter
we paused to enjoy and appreciate

meri, looking through that eye to the sky, saw a lone bird fly over
and asked how i was at reading auguri, omens, signs from the heavens
i held her and smiled

a step at a time, i have no insight into what may be
we do the best we can with what we have
slowly it keeps changing, we'll wait and see

outside to the base of a pillar on the sunny side
we sat to watch for a while
with no particular purpose in mind
two small local boys played as children have for ages
on their marble slab home turf of the pantheon

taking in the bright day
amid the quiet well-ordered mirth
still aware for whatever it's worth
that these precious moments are joys
for our brief time on earth

Thursday, February 21, 2008

weather roma

on a map for italy's weather there were
eighteen suns over lazio, the region of roma

oh, look at venezia, how many suns
count 'em up, there's almost twenty

i found a four percent chance of precipitation
on a clear day, repeated every hour

the amount of winds, negligible
but mentioned frequently

a chart of projections for the day
updated in two hour increments

complete - not completely
no mention of temperature

figlio di putanna, isn't the amount of clouds
and eighteen suns over roma enough for you?

unless we tell you otherwise
weather will continue as usual

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

iced over

a door is opened a crack
and on the back
of my neck
a cold wind pushes me
to recollect a day walking, walking
in the snow with my hands in my pockets
with my head low and nose cold
walking in the wind, in the snow
long ago

to or from somewhere
saw some friends
going to the corner store

city-old maples
fat and icy
tap their limbs upon windows
no one can let them in

puddles on the curb
round the corner
on the curve
iced over

run down the street
feet and ice meet
slide on the sheet
iced over
in the wind, in the snow
long ago

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


our house is your home
would you move out please
we just bought it

we made an offer on a house
in the country, an hour out of roma
the house needs attention
it’s all there, but not how we’d do it

what do we want? something else.
how do we want it? easy.
will we know it when we see it?
maybe, but don't bet on it.

globalization will do away with choice
one burger, one car, one house
why should we complain?
it’s less expensive to make it all the same

and why should it stop? with stem cell technology
one dog: part cat, part fish, part chicken
when you’re done playing with it
you can eat it

Monday, February 18, 2008

quick say

down at the vineria, the wine shop
from thirty feet away
i saw the waiter who has seen me several times
sitting, taking coffee with roberto at mid-day

our eyes met, he paused
recognition appeared
i raised my chin and squinted in question
he thought again and peered

he gave a quick shake no
we exchanged a few slight, rapid tilts of head and shoulders
and nods of confirmation
all was well in order

then both shrugged, turned, went about our way
this was a solid bit of communication
absolute and complete in eight seconds
here's what we had to say

i said, "hey, i know you ."
"i know you also," came his first.
"how are you doing, have you seen roberto?"
"i'm fine," he answered, "but, no, i haven't seen robert. he hasn't been around."
"okay," I said, "let him know i was looking for him if you see him."
"Will do," he answered.
"i'll be back, it was good to see you."
" yeah, you to."

Sunday, February 17, 2008


after a long bus ride out to laurentina, the suburbs
near the grande raccordo annulare, the great highway ring around roma
we relented and returned on the swift metro line b

under the pyramid,
under the old chariot race site circus maximus
below the old forum to our stop

we walked and escalatored up several flights
to encounter saturday night at fiori imperiale,
mussolini's contribution in the 1930s, a boulevard
that cuts through the forum to the center of roma

the ruins of nero's home, domus aurea on the rise behind us
before, the colosseum

behold - grandiose, invincible master of ages
modern marker of the bygone empire

tall and black against the chill of february sky
that has withstood two millenia
of wind, rain, scorching heat and cold
paraded in and shouted over

blood and prayers, beasts and gladiator
lie dormant in the sands beneath

now buses pass closely by
i saw a jet liner flying toward fiumicino airport
photos are snapped and promises have been made
under the shadow of the giant

and in the twentieth century they dug
a metro line tunnel under everything