Germany 2007

Rome & Milan



The 145 steps

That lead to Santa

Maria in Aracoeli

Climbed by Romans

On their knees who

Believed that such

Torture would surely

Bring good fortune

In the lottery

No less but I guess

It mostly brought

Them bloodied shins

And mounting


As well it should

Why grovel for

Lady Luck when

All around you

There's more than

You cold bargain for

From the Forum

To the Gianicolo

The Siroco blows

An ill but warm wind

The moon rises early

And is completely full



The cats in Area Sacra

Have it made

"Do Not Feed"

The sign reads

"Because they are feed

Three times a day"

And so loll about

With nothing to do

But bask in the sun

Hundreds of them

Sprawled on ancient altars

Where no one but 

They can tread

Living in sacred temples

With malice toward none

No fighting or courting

Not even much fun

For they're all rendered

Gender neutral


An immense Beaux

Arts drawing of

The Villa D'Este

Hung over my desk

At Cornell

Drawn in plan

Top down & flat

Everything reduced

To two dimensions

The grottos/the fountains

The stairs/the trees

The olive grove

A field of circles

But today I saw the

Grounds in the round

True to size/true to space

All levels in living color

Yet because it was Monday

And officially closed

The water organ

As in the drawing

Did not play

And the 100-headed

Fountain neither

Splashed nor flowed


Where the Milan marthon

Begins I don't know

But the finish line

Was right in front

Of the Duomo

In the piazza where

There are usually

More pigeons than people

Today was jammed

With anxious competitors

And curious spectators

A maze of barricades

And chain link fences

Made the approach

To the cathedral

Almost inaccessible

And once inside

The overly amplified

Proceedings were nearly

Impossible to ignore

Even without the race

It would have been

Hard to find a way in

Since the entire facade

Was wrapped for restoration

A daunting occupation

Anywhere but here on

This brindled edifice

With its legion of pinnacles

And corroded sculptures

It's an undercover operation

Of inspiring proportion

2012 & 2014

Michael and I went to Irleand twice.

The first time because we had never been there. The second, because Michael loved it so much.


The Dublin Writers Museum

contains trivial memorabilia

about famous authors' lives

There is a note in elegant hand

Thomas More wrote accepting

a luncheon invitation

but excepting an overnight

Brendan Behan is represented too

by among other things

long-winded letters and

a beat-up typewriter

Nearby a recording of James Joyce

tongue-twists its way through

part of Finnegan's Wake

and a letter from

George Bernard Shaw

artfully declines to give his

autograph to a charity fundraiser

emphatically stating that

he never signs anything

and to raise the stakes

adds the date

Not to be outdone

the neighboring Hugh Lane Gallery

meticulously moved

Francis Bacon's shambolic studio

scrap by scrap from London

At the end of the day

Charles Betty's manuscript

collection got short shrift

as we perused in record time

the darkened galleries

that trace the written word

from inscriptions carved in stone

to bejeweled copies of the Qu'ran

and first edition Gutenbergs


Met John Kerry and his

cows up above Doolin

in the hill and pastureland

he was missing all of

his front teeth

but no mind

he gladly let me take

his picture with the herd

I put Michel in

for good measure

later on the bus

I took hundreds of pictures

of The Burren but they

aren't very good

since there's nothing 

there to shoot

they all look alike

and so what if

Nora Barnacle's

house was closed

Galway is on the sea

and known for oysters

so oysters it was

and a bowl of

creamy fish chowder


Auetal--the valley of the river

Aue a fertile land still farmed

And neatly fitted with

Green and yellow fields

And random leafy villages

Mere clusters of houses

Mostly brick with tiled roofs

The home of my ancestors

Who 150 years ago or so

Set out in steerage

To come to America

Leaving behind not only

Cozy houses but friends

And family and thousand

Year-old churches

Not to mention routines

The knowable patterns

And inevitable wars

To start anew in

A strange and distant land

They were a hardy lot

Fearless and adventuresome

Did they ever miss these towns

Grow melancholy or homesick

Wish they'd never left


After starting the day in 

Koln's Cathedaral

Who would have thought

We'd see another church

Let alone several

That held our attention

It's as if after eating your cake first

You discover how good

The sandwich tastes

Which we did in fact eat

Sitting initially in the shade

And later on in the sun

On a Strasse in the old town

Which along with the cathedral

And the other Kirchen

Had in the 40s

Lain in ruins


Today we took the train

to Wexford

Michael's great grandfather's

stomping grounds

we stomped too

all along main street

North and south

and along the quay

(i.e. key)

and the Irish Sea

past churches

old houses/graveyards


and gardens

to and from our B&B

through streest mobbed

with shoppers and

after hours

eerily empty

the sun shone

the rain fell

there was a brief 

sleet shower

at times we froze

but now I'm tired


Rainbows everywhere

blowing over me

wind and sea gulls

and of course swan

and rainbows

arching from dawn 

to the horizon

and the wind

blowing over me

and then again

the rainbows

and then the rain


To Powerscourt and


by cab with a driver

who must have

spoken English

but sure was hard

to understand

No problem!

the sheep knew

what he said

when he rolled

the windows down

and baaaaaaad

I took the obligatory

picture just before

we had a puncture

No problem!

the tyre was fixed

before our tea

was drunk

and in no way

did this take

anything away

from our memories

of the day

Powers court still lords

over its green terraces

St. Kevin's ruins

are waiting

above piebald tombs

the tranquility of the

Wicklow Mountains

refuses to vanish

our amazement to

actually be here grows


There are great views

of the slate gray Atlantic

from Rosses Point

and of the Irish-green

island that's for sale

for a a million or so

just down the coast

And then there are the

eternal things like

the lichen covered

Celtic crosses

in the cemetery

at Drumcliff where

Yeats lies buried beneath

his oft-quoted epitaph

"Horseman, pass by"

And then there is the rain

that came down

by the bucketfuls 

and the pass through the

mountain range to

a glacial basin

halved by a 

pencil thin waterfall

And the human needs

like when Mike had to pee

and walked to a secluded

spot shielded from

roadway gaze

only to be spied on

by two curious sheep


So much destroyed

During World War II

The Reichstag

St. Hedwig's Cathedral

Almost everything around

The Brandenburg Gate

And a few years

After the blitz

The infamous wall

Now mostly torn down

Divided the city

Into haves and have-nots

Only grimy fragments

Remain grim reminders

Of Cold War days

Except for Checkpoint Charlie

Never more than a shack

Still completely intact