Upon Glimpsing a Plaster-Cracked Virgin

I recently discovered a handful of poems I wrote many years ago in Rome. When I was in need of a place to stay for a few months, my friends Miriam and Chris let me crash in their guest room. Every morning I would walk in a nearby park and write a few verses as a sort of spiritual exercise. Some of the poems are stiff and mannered but a few, like Roman Market, aren’t entirely terrible. In that spirit, I dedicate this poem to Lilli, my friends’ departed canine companion who brought joy to everyone she encountered. Well, almost everyone, since there’s a waiter at a restaurant near the Lungotevere in Rome who might disagree. Much like the Zen master slamming his pupil’s foot with a door again and again until the pupil attains enlightenment,  Lilli used her canine chompers to awaken the careless waiter with big feet. To my experience dogs, like rain drops, are far more effective spiritual teachers than even the most learned and eloquent of men.

~BT Waldbillig
March 26, 2017
– – – – –
Roman Market

March 2003

I turn my wine-heavy head
and hurry past an ancient
tribal matron
settling into a forgotten corner
of the abandoned market
still littered with rotting abundance

settling under a faded Madonna
she hopes perhaps for shelter
from the delirious clouds
swiftly drifting across the muddy sky
and whistling hot-cold gusts
over the asphalt desert

thunder-crackle deafens me
to her mumbled request
as I lift my eyes to glimpse
the tempest’s first droplets alight
the plaster-cracked Virgin

and marvel at how
they resemble tears

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