from Venezia to Maribor
Venezia 4/4/02

part one

Like a small child
crossing the wires of countries
imbedded in rituals,
learning to wear colours
growing up drunk on god and wine.

The little Bacchanal toddles off into the city
searching for Arlecchino and his mates
their different language keeping something of the past afloat
between echoes, and passing conversations.

The square opens up into higelty-pigelty proportions,
scaled against the circling panic of pigeons doing fly-bys of history  and the church.
Of St. (swoosh, swhoosh) Sebastian like a hundred mistaken heroes
forgotten at Sebastapol,
their grave robbed memories rippling from the stroke of every gondoliers oar.
parading their skills and service in the night lights of walk filled streets.

Each series of steps a bridge, a corner, a dead end
(which often means the sea)
not enough space to turn a boat, or give way, or,
when drifitng,
to give pause a thought in the piles of plaster
long since cleared from beneath the crumbling walls,
or to think
in different languages of fixing historic flaws.

part two

The landed fish speaks
to each masked Venetian Punicello,
of ridiculing Pantalone
and the slapstick of Arlecchino:

It isn't just the pristine wonders of the world
that makes a place,
its the patched up walls
the making do
the peoples protests
that shape a city's face.

It's wizened dogs and feral cats,
rumbling hand carts, and children's play
it's myths and overdone historic facts
its bells, its birds, its odorous waterways.

its words sprayed in anger on the walls
that help a city usher in each day.

For truth is not the renaissance, empire, or churches reign,
it isn't what you have or haven't got,
or going to get, it isn't even pain,

It's not a secret language, or the nighttime closing in,
or begging like a supplicant for forgiveness of your sins,
it's not the classic architecture, pristine, or tumble down,
its not whether you vote or not,
or swear blind allegiance to some crown,

It's not the black and white of Gondoliers
or the clowny colours of a Harlequin,
the cruciforms of a vineyard's fence
or some epitaph like Gunga Din's,

it's the last thing you'll find a postcard for,
It's what lays the whole world at your feet:

Remember that every house of cards you build
should have a door open onto the street.

m. dunlop
poetry