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Index of titles

Amis amiss

Derrida’s teleology…

Faustina, Tour Guide, Regrets

Follow Me Down

Kingdom Come






Faustina, Tour Guide, Regrets

Then here in Lombardy, in December,

In buttoning up against the freezing

Rain, I have grudgingly done as instructed,

Re-treading young Faustina’s public route

Through the city’s streets and piazzas, all

With a catalogue of dusted monuments.

I found her at last, solemnly ensconced

At a table she was obliged to share

With strangers – a bizarre English couple

Irresolutely consulting a map –

The three thrown together in a café

Named after Vittorio II.

Insanely bored, Faustina put them right,

With an index finger tracing out

Their best first choice, from the five bronze doors

Of Il Duomo – ‘Here!’ – to the threshold

Of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

‘That’s over there!’ ‘Ah. Grazie mille.’

So the pair went, back to all beginnings

Here with the cathedral, so giving

Up to me their palely lamp-lit window space.

I cradled my cup of cappuccino,

Now under Faustina’s penetrating gaze,

She re-gloved and scarfed, and ready to go.

She remains as defiant as you warned,

If unwilling to malign her employers,

Whose patronage is at once liberal

And patrician, in a weird conflation

Of public duty and strictly private

Living – an assertion I can’t argue with.

I am just a phlegmatic northerner,

Brought to reflect on the extravagance

Of urban existence, but bound to say

Her argument is not with you – not yet.

She deals in generalities, in questions –

Centred on the fabric of our living here.

Her exception is, you do not understand

Youthful rebellions, in a metropolis

Whose founding generals and financiers

Sit astride the pavements everywhere,

Sculpted and statuesque – a living amber

Weathered over centuries of strife.

All is abstracted by that legacy,

Men’s ambitions sanified by art

And architecture, or dramatised

By operatic plots and arias –

Yet, the tabernacles of our tourist trade

Are also a lifelong sarcophagus.

First published in Horizon Review, issue 3