They Were Never Wrong

In the city of Cosimo de’ Medici,
two soldiers in fatigues, with automatic rifles;
two armed policemen – one overweight,
a family man, the other tanned, young
and assisting; and three paramedics – one
a girl who struggles with the ambulance’s
sliding door, and all in hi-viz yellow: have come
to take a youth, who lies, grey hooded,
in a station doorway. This tableau, somewhere
west of Bethlehem, freezes, waiting
for the painter and an easel. Gets me,
the tourist on the bus. I do my best,
in honour of the city on the Arno.

The boy’s dark hair, and deep, deep skin
speaks of Africa, His thin legs dangle,
too weak to take the weight his small
life needs to bear.  What care he will
receive, I’ll never know – nor whether
poverty, drugs or drink had brought
him low. A refugee unsheltered or
feeble menace to the state?

The bus takes me away
and Mozart whispers in my ears.
And round our city palaces and galleries,
the fortresses of our past and care,
oil-painted waters pluck and pound.








Cicadas mate like crickets in the grasses
dry from this Italian summer.
Round the pool we also gather,
More noises, callings, rituals, displays.

A woman, blue costume lacing
front to back, oils her partner’s
body with her palm. It’s factor 20
comes between them, later
he’ll burn, hot skinned in her arms.

Two girls smoke, laugh and lie together.
Tuscan, brown as olives, tasting.
A dozen tattoos back their conversation.
A heart in red, cartoons the faith
that brings us all together in the end.

For those of us who are not young,
there is the mirror of the water, our feet
disturbing, shocked to feel its sudden
cool – an amniotic balm, a hint
of dying  on some other day. The rest

of us read books, and watch the shadows –
thrillers, or excitements felt from missing,
something. Our pages turned or turning.
Sleep also holds, behind dark lenses,
Sleep: sun-dowsed, dazed and welcome.

And evening calls. We guise our bodies –
wraps and towels. Grey and tan,
a pigeon dips, and drinks the water,
arrows to a thin and dancing tree.

And crickets like cicadas call in grasses.

Canalicchio 2018