Michelangelo in Hiding

in the Medici Chapels

A small room to the left of the altar
a trap door and down. You hide
and wait for world’s forces to forgive
to find art is more important
than power’s shifting tides. You sketch.
With charcoal, with your finger.
The corners full of shadows, footsteps
on stone above. A tiny window for light
and it is not always light.

day one day five day twenty
day six twelve nineteen

The food is cold the cell is damp how long
will you huddle here? Haunted by what
you have yet to do, by all those stone hearts
waiting to breathe

Inspired by this article about Michelangelo and by PAD Chapbook Challenge Day 16, a “haunted poem.”

Western Empires

of a dream
this slim shadow
beneath tall stone walls
medieval streets steep-falling
with Tuscan sun: Porta all’Arco

and all our mouths full
round vowels in Chianti
steeped: Montepulciano
Leccino, Toscanello

These illusions worn to mystery
by centuries of hill-building
empires seeking meaning
wine-sided, steep-falling
faceless in dark


2014-10 Tuscany Italy 021 (6)


Strange, how I can see the hilltop town

lights many miles away and the headlights

of distant cars twinkling as they move down

switchback loopy roads—glittering stars

to the steady planetary glow of the towns.

But no, the planets move and so they are

the cars and the towns the fixed-star definers

of the sky: the hills are there and there. Strange,

to tell myself I am here, tonight, in Italy.

(I have to keep telling myself.) For I have seen

hills before and hilltop towns before. True

there are cypresses, tall thin shadows in this

deepening night, but I have seen stone houses

before and olive trees before. I have felt

gusty fall breezes before, seen cloud-shrouded

full moon before. I have drunk Italian wine

before. But on this chill night in this gusty breeze

under this cloud-shrouded moon, with the warm

light through the doorway of this stone house

above this olive grove (with this glass of Italian

wine in my hand), I know I am here, and am glad.