her face is channels
&uneven skin
saltpeter in the cracks beneath her breast
a window
to an alley // to a place

an old man on a bench,
his smile caught in the wrinkles of my yellow dress

“too many tourists here during the summer, so– (he blinks)
where are you from?”

her breath flows loudless—milky emerald

&no one knows what she’s carrying beneath
the surface, dreams
of times long passed,
pockmarks and scars,

she finds you
past your masks

makes love to the bookshop keeper
who keeps little bowls around the desk
to feed her dragons

spits you in the face
on marcus place

&licks your sore feet with a mix of grace,
humility and loud italian pride
that you find nowhere else

“can you mark that spot for me?” i ask the man behind the counter,

&he pulls a nail, a plane, a wild cat,
finally a pen from the knitted gaps of his pullover


all the letters from his million books
bend soft black ink towards the sea, a small canal,
the dragon’s exit point,
the moon’s first hiding place after his shift
i feel her rough, full, pouting lips

&a pair of chairs wait for their reader


18 responses to “veniCe

  1. I so need to check out this bookshop, where they keep dragons. As if old books were not enough to keep me hooked. Ha. I envy your travels to places like this. We don’t have nearly enough history here. Love the intimacy you find with the cities. That is truly experiencing it.

  2. How could I not love this poem? Venice ranks high as one of my favorite cities. It’s a marvelous, romantic place and your poem is just as fantastic. Hope you have a wonderful time. I like your yellow dress.

  3. I think it would be enchanting to go to Venice & ride a boat on the canals…I think I would like a bookstore that keeps small bowls to feed a dragon. There is a small bookstore here that has snowglobes and I always find myself shaking one so the magic can begin. That is a very cute sunny dress…

  4. Sigh. A bookstore with bowls for dragons. Lovely. I,too, love your yellow dress – and your poem. It is always lovely to see your name pop up on my blogroll and know you have a new poem. Yay!

  5. I have never been to Venice. but bookshops are a favorite place of mine.. I visited one in Oxford the other week and was captivated by the ambiance of books.. no dragons alas, but maybe they hid behind the binders somewhere else.

  6. Really like that photo of you in Venice! What struck me is that ‘no one knows what she is carrying beneath the surface,’ much more than the dragon. Reminds me once again that there is so much more to each individual than the exterior. And even people we think we know, well there is so much more. Hopefully the dreams of long past are good ones & the scars and pockmarks have faded over time!

  7. It took me a minute, but then–I’ve been there–so I felt the face of Venice and her breath–the waterways with their milkiness and spit and reflections and dragons. I love that the bookshop keeper feeds the dragons, that he marks the map with the third thing in his pocket, that the chairs are right where he says.

  8. You have this way of telling a thousand stories in every poem…I love the voice in this, the wise, all-seeing, lover of humanity. And the beautiful glimpse into the place as well.

  9. I love u in that yellow dress, C … u look like a yellow rose … some day soon some body will give me a yellow rose and say: Welcome.