Wednesday, May 9, 2018


you can’t get a taco in venice

fat foreign people
stroll eating gelato at dawn

taking big licks like mischievous children
as they stop to photograph lilacs
the peeling paint off of ancient walls
and the stinking water of stagnant canals

frazzled teachers prance chattering school groups
through sun-soaked piazzas

packs of kids all dressed the same
in levis t-shirts, ripped jeans and nike shoes

who chant rap lyrics in unison like little fascists
in a malaise i call america

in the tourist bars
the tourists are drinking flavored spritz drinks
before the sun is fully in the sky

lingering over verboten alcohol and stale olives
served to them by sullen waiters
pining over women in love with their cell phones
and not the gorgeousness of the bridge of sighs

tourists, we think this is what life can be like
…at least for a little while

we know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder
but we’ve forgotten that love is blind

that stravinsky and pound are here somewhere
rotting in a lagoon cemetery
far from the gleam of murano glass

we’ve forgotten the suicide feel of a hangover at noon
because it’s been too long

or that work and death will always come back calling
much harder than they ever did before all of this

while in dark alleyways
wayward nigerian men stand next to graffiti signs
extolling libertine virtues
for the right cost

next to posters
advertising the genius of veronese and tintoretto
we’ll never bother to see

next to trouble-free people
sucking down plastic cups of white wine

ignorant of illiberal democracies everywhere

they hold out floppy hats
emblazoned with stained italian flags
and logos for the new york yankees

nigerians swatting at mosquitos
staking out a claim against starving seagulls

begging for change and bottled water
in the spring sun’s merciless heat

of a beautiful city
that’s slowly sinking into

the dark green and heavily salted sea.
--John Grochalski

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