- Love’s Faithfulpolyptych in Seven Panels for Dante Alighieri
THE FOG SPEAKS, ONE NIGHT IN 1321
I am everywhereThis morning
In the fieldsover the rivercloaking the mountainsway up there
I’m everywherethis morning
I’m here tooin the writer’s room
They left the window open
the banished poetthe exiled poetEGO SCRIPTORthe writeris therein his bed [End Page 82]
in his rose-colored room
fever flays himlikea lynx
death bites downenters his bonesit penetrates, cracks openhis skull-box
like memewho’s everywherethis morning
he is dyingthe writerhis mind befogged
Does he pray?Does he recite his Creed?Does he see Eternity?Or does he doubtsunk in remorselike a wounded stag?Or for a momenta single momentis he seized by fearand sees nothing but Darknessthe Darkness of the end?
beforehe’d seen EternityParadisea thread of smokepale blue incensehe had written itblack on whitenot far from herein the pine woods [End Page 83]
on the shore at Classeand now those 13 cantithose last 13 cantiare hidden in his little roombehind that rush-woven matnailed to the wallin that forgottencubbyholedug into the wallyesit’s ParadiseParadiseit’s inside therewalled in
he is dyingthe writerthe little wormafter years of exile.In Florence they want him dead!Still!Never pardoned him!A bonfirein the public squareoh surethey can’t waitset fire to him!like a sorcerera thieving graftera corrupt politician!Stepmother Florence!Whorehouse and gallows!
They forgot to closethe windowand I’m hereand theyare all therethe lords of the citystudents and friendsthey hosted him [End Page 84]
the refugeeopened a School for himwhere the refugee taughtDE VULGARI ELOQUENTIAand then they sent him toVeniceas ambassadorto avert a war
the road’s a riverof filthy watera swampof malariamalariathat melts your throat
and now they’re all therethose romagnoliwatchingtheir distinguished guest shiversplutteringravingAlabaster RavennaRavenna of the tombsRavenna felix
Twenty years in flightover the mountainsSarzana Forlì Bologna VeronaArezzo Treviso Padova Luccaat the foot of the Luni mountainsto Paris, perhapsin the Vico de li Stramiday and nightice and heatno bread in his pocketno homelandstray dog dayslife’s fangs gouging himlike a vicious curand now it sees him swoon [End Page 85]
in that little roomthe exiled poetshit-smearedthe writerthrown back and forthon the shifting, roilingsea.
THE DEMON CRIES OUT FROM THE DITCH
Cast your eyes below!At the river of boiling blood!At the great ditch of Phlegethon!In which boilthose whose violence drove madthe lives of others!Oh mad, mad, madCruel bestiality!Oh youtyrantsoppressorsboilingtherewith piercing screamsstench, fecesthe final black pitof the universe!Profiteers!Profiteers!Guzzling shit-sweetened bloodand behind, the financiersthe 500 familiesno longerwalled in their villasno longerholed-up in their gardensno longerbarricaded in their partiesI see them therein a place mute of light [End Page 86] upside down in the mire!And the merchants of deathdoing businessdragging downthe disemboweled peoples andidiot Christs in the trenchesnailedon the bridge of yearsbetween scorn and mockerypure, mute Christswith cut-out tonguesscattered amidst trash and mudand sheet-metalwith the stink of piss andanger and fear and desolation andtrade in human flesh andcries of mothers in the nightunheard andthe armsdealersarmsdealers on a cruisearmsdealers out for a sailarmsdealers sipping drinkstaking a posefor the next photoamusing themselvesmaking five-year planson the death of othersarmsdealers double-breastedarmsdealers hinting a smilearmsdealers with...