Florence, 1993

It was the night after the car bombing of the Uffizi.
The city was a vandalized painting of itself.
I walked the via Inferno, to via Purgatorio,
And saw a prostitute on a street corner
Pointing the way to paradise. I saw
A collapsed bridge in a burning river.
Every sculpture was writhing with animal pain,
Every tomb thrown open, every masterpiece blackened.

My shadow led me like a spirit guide
Amid the howls of lamentation;
The street was river of boiling blood.
Then I saw a light and a passageway.
Above the doors of an old church I read:
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.

Clouds Over London

... neither God nor No-God
Louis MacNeice

Not clouds but burkas naked on clotheslines,
Hawksmoor gloom with Horus eye,
Warzone Luftwaffe left-over thunder,
Lions’ heads on building tops,
Quorum of the heavens… London fog
And a neighborhood in London fog,
The ghost of Hitchcock at the window
Of his house gave the shadow of a doubt.
Nothing was real, not buildings or streets.
Only a waking sleep from cab to cab
And a destination from which you depart.
Not clouds but statues wet in flesh
And veil, as in “The Winter’s Tale,”
Or the dead likeness of a changing guard.
North of the city an explosion; south, a beheading.
Astride the block a shadow slumps.
The head of God, a cloud in a basket.