15 December, 2003Issue 3.1Creative WritingOriginal Poetry

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Roman Pictures

Damian Love

Italy beneath the wings, bright babble

Of voices, passports please, what century

Have we landed in? Sono inglese,

Sono studente, do they understand?

Taxi-drivers, spivs, ask them, passers-by,

Which way from here the eternal city?

One line or another, count on it, will

Set us down in the Pantheon of the

Minute – squeeze in by the bella donnas,

Sweat and perfume tangled knots of arms on

The heaving Metro, bright rivers of flesh,

Transported and baptised they set us down –

Avanti, avanti my friends, time is

Short, we have many Romes to build today!

Bustle of bright voices, sun through closed lids,

Ooze of traffic, we hear them distantly –

Babble of bright voices of the past behind

Our eyes Catullus Virgil Cicero

The saints and patrons the household gods

On our shoulders have we borne them – sono

Inglese, non capisco signore!

These petrol-drunken tides lapping at the

Piazza, sunlight, sudden face tossed up

From the surge, Anadyomene, she

Wanders off pouting; – surely there is the

Madonna with the buggy, wheeling her

Fat bambino through the pines, Armani

Blue on gold, chastely fingering the bracelet

On her tanned wrist –

Bright babble of signs and boards, celluloid

Suavity of silk on the old avatars,

Per mangiare, signore, ho tre bambini!

No sense, no sense this cluttered pageant, no

Sense but presence, per favore, haughty

Facades, plush painted martyrs, these we shall

Remember, svelte-eyed shop-girls, scootering

Braggadocios, these our crumbs of radiance,

Per favore, our tender fragments of

Tradition, snap them, snap around the clock,

We will have this to show, per favore,

This album, this loose bundle, this Roman

Relic, this curio.

Damian Love grew up in New Zealand and studied English literature at the universities of Otago and St Andrews. He is currently working on Beckett at Oxford.