The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum


I threw my sweatshirt over my left arm as if it were a toga

Turned off two cell phones before entering La Sala Grande to hear Billy Collins read

I worried still that they might call each other and have a conversation

like all of mine in Rome

In dungaree left pocket Rome cell would speak in Italian rapidamente

Right pocket Gloucester cell would use the flat tone of that speech with mispronounced Italian words


His poetry made me happy and I was happy to be able to tell him so after

Ten years before when we heard him at Harvard we thought that he was our secret

He said, yes, the secret is out


After the poems there were no questions, he guessed it was because of the large sacred paintings in San Lorenzo in Miranda

I thought that poems and paintings worked together to exalt, we did not want to break the spell


Sappho from the isle of Lesbos sat next to me

She called Billy simpatico

I had to say, so, you are a real lesbian.

Her daughter Chloe was there and she does not like poetry

Sappho explained Zeno’s Paradox to me about the arrows Billy saw not getting to Saint Sebastian

But they finally did, and the martyr bled.



 June 8, 2012