Dante’s “Roundabout” to Beatrice

Per dVerse’s MTB, The Roundabout:

  • Four quintains (five-line stanzas) for a total of twenty lines
  • Iambic meter throughout
  • Lines have 4;3;2;2;3 feet respectively
  • Line 5 repeats line 2
  • Rhyme scheme is aBccB bCddC cDaaD dAbbA

Naturally, given my current reading, my first thoughts flew to Dante’s unrequited love for Beatrice.

Dante and Beatrice, Henry Holiday (1883), oil on canvas

My mind rehearses all the lines
I’d say if you were mine;
Though you are not
My heart you’ve got
I’d say if you were mine.

Oh, how I long to have a sign
That you like me have fought
The love I yearn
For which I burn
That you like me have fought.

There is no wealth, no treasure sought
That would all reason spurn;
To cross the lines
And God’s designs
That would all reason spurn.

Farewell, my muse, to God I’ll turn
For Love like starlight shines;
My mind refine
My heart confine
For Love like starlight shines.

Balaam To the Kindly Moon

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” — Plato
“They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.” — 2 Peter 2:15 (NIV)

You set me a riddle of romance,
Kindly Moon, a beguiling trap
by the waters of Babylon
where Cartier trinkets line
red-bowed caskets made in China
riding on Charon’s ferry

by the waters of Babylon
where I hung up my Guccis
like spangled semaphores
testifying to the Sinai fire
on a holy mountain while
sipping Florentine wine in D.C.

You sent me a Utopian dream
of Jerusalem under kindly eyes
before my breakdown,
where I dwelt perennial
in the tongues of state
-craft, sightless as a stone
gargoyle with carbonized

hate, when home after home,
city after city I visited, inflaming tribal
sigils, leavening in unguarded hearts
dystopias in abandoned strollers,
palaces of discontent, malodorous
diffusion, contentious, disfiguring.

So now I frame you, with Pyrrhic ruins,
dead-to-rights from my watery
bier with the very crimes
you silver-framed me
in Chicago (Kabul or Kiev)
where all roads meet
with a gunshot and a cry.


*The October full moon is known in China as the Kindly Moon.

Continue reading “Balaam To the Kindly Moon”

Something’s Broken

A babe sat in the green grass bright
Fast held in a predator’s sight.
Is it that of a man or that of a beast?
One’s intent is murder, the other’s a feast.

In what universe would a mother bereft
Of her bonnie babe by its sudden theft
Feel her piercing grief constrained the less
Were it a man for its death to so confess?

Something’s broken, someone’s dead
Something’s taken, innocence fled.

Then is there no evil, no good to pursue
Just the surreal, “to thine own self be true”?
Don’t lose the story, oh, don’t lose the plot
It’s death that’s the enemy, one thing we’ve all got.

Nature or nurture, priest, pagan, or not
Don’t you see we all share the same rot?
In a cave or in a palace, the calling card’s the same
One way or another, we’ve lost the grand game.

Something’s broken, someone’s gone
Something’s twisted, death has won

Death robs us of meaning, or would were it the end
Since deep within we sense something round the bend;
Death is still the crucible, our evil we can’t mend
Till upside down is right side up and earth made new again.


Continue reading “Something’s Broken”