Archives for posts with tag: Rome

ORPHIC CANTOS, 37. (Excerpt)
by Ivan Argüelles

satellite planets hovering on the rim of thought
white powder in which the dead recognize other souls
this the anti-earth of Persephone the thin lunar crevice
known as salvation for those that succeed in hanging on
a daimon resides in my head pushing sideways into inferno
legacy of ancient poetry untranslatable traces and dreams
of the other life where the elysian fields extend behind the moon
cold cataracts pour into gassy space the relics of the epic
I am if nothing else the stifling afternoon of Sicilian myth
fragments of rock and vegetation dried air volcanic ash
from which arise spectra shuddering from the noon blasts
pleading to have back some shred of shadow a small darkness
a daimon increases his infinite size within my aching brain
there are things my thumbs cannot know to touch that burn
without sensation of flame that contain forbidden metastases
echoes of the first death for those who undergo the second one
when I reemerged from the oracular furnace feet first
my body was radiant this the daimon’s irredeemable gift
who filled my mind with the voices of a thousandfold gods
in the lair of heat which is the chrysalis of the omniverse
how can a man ever return who has seen and be greeted
by household members as the same when he is polluted
infected by the miasma of being other the outsider?

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I once said I read everything I write and I write everything I read. I believe that inspiration is the one true process involved in the act of creating a poem, if that’s what you want to call it. I am a devotee of the Muse; she pulls me by the hair and makes me do it. No inhibitions. All worlds open, the galaxies are free fall, I embrace the cosmos as both chaotic and divine.

IMAGE: Roman floor mosaic depicting Orpheus surrounded by animals charmed by the music of his lyre. (SOURCE: Museo archeologico regionale di Palermo.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ivan Argüelles is a much-published, innovative poet. Frequently classified as a surrealist, his poetry overreaches that definition and he has pushed the envelope to epic proportions. A classicist by education, he continues exploring the so-called classical world, be it that of the Greco/Romans or that of India, in his constant experimentation with myth. Among his many books of poetry are: That Goddess; Madonna Septet (2 vols.); Comedy, Divine, The; The Death of Stalin; and Ars Poetica. He is currently working on a long series, Orphic Cantos. A Mexican-American, raised on both sides of the border, he is the identical twin of New Age prophet Jose Argüelles. A retired librarian, he resides in Berkeley, California.

by Tobi Cogswell

She turned 25 in Rome and now she is about to turn 50. Back then, traveling with three Israeli boys she met on a pier in Monte Carlo, she camped for two nights in the back of their station wagon, one night parked in center-of-the-street parking in Genoa and one night in God only knows and she doesn’t remember. The night before her birthday, faced with a roadside toilet in the middle of nowhere, wearing shorts that buttoned up the side, a leotard and cowboy boots, faced with a hole, a pole and painted footprints in the darkening night she started crying. She told the boys she was not camping one more night. She was waking up in a hotel with clean hair. If they wouldn’t drive her to Rome she would hitchhike or walk. The next day they bought her flowers and celebrated with orange soda and cake – 25 years later the flowers are still pressed into a photo album having been smuggled back and not declared as fruit, vegetable or any other type of farm product. Can turning 50 be any sweeter?

IMAGE: “Home for Lunch in Rome” by Pamela Allegretto. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tobi Cogswell is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Credits include or are forthcoming in various journals in the US, UK, Sweden and Australia. In 2012 and 2013, she was shortlisted for the Fermoy International Poetry Festival. In 2013, she received Honorable Mention for the Rachel Sherwood Poetry Prize. Her sixth and latest chapbook is Lapses & Absences (Blue Horse Press). She is the coeditor of San Pedro River Review.

by Stanley Moss

Today in Rome, heading down
Michelangelo’s Spanish Steps,
under an unchanging moon,
I held on to the balustrade,
grateful for his giving me a hand.
All for love, I stumbled over the past
as if it were my own feet. Here, in my twenties,
I was lost in love and poetry. Along the Tiber,
I made up Cubist Shakespearean games.
(In writing, even in those days,
I cannot say it was popular to have “subjects”
any more than painters used sitters. But I did.)
I played with an ignorant mirror for an audience:
my self, embroiled with personae
from Antony and Cleopatra. Delusions of grandeur!
They were for a time my foul-weather friends—
as once I played with soldiers
on the mountainous countryside of a purple blanket.

IMAGE: The Spanish Steps, Rome (1895 photo). Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stanley Moss, born in 1925, was educated at Trinity College (Connecticut) and Yale University. He makes his living as a private art dealer, specializing in Spanish and Italian Old Masters. He is the critically acclaimed author of The Skull of Adam (1979), The Intelligence of Clouds (1989), Asleep in the Garden (1997), A History of Color (2003), New and Selected Poems (2006), Rejoicing (2009), and God Breaketh Not All Men’s Hearts Alike (2011). In 1977 Moss founded Sheep Meadow Press, a nonprofit press devoted to poetry, with a particular focus on international poets in translation. He lives in New York.

lyrics by Bob Dylan

Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
footprints are everywhere
You can almost think that you’re seein’ double
On a cold, dark night on the Spanish Stairs
Got to hurry on back to my hotel room
Where I’ve got me a date with Botticelli’s niece
She promised that she’d be right there with me
When I paint my masterpiece

Oh, the hours I’ve spent inside the Coliseum
Dodging lions and wastin’ time
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle, I could hardly
stand to see ’em
Yes, it sure has been a long, hard climb
Train wheels runnin’ through the back of my memory
When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese
Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece

Sailin’ round the world in a dirty gondola
Oh, to be back in the land of Coca-Cola!

I left Rome and landed in Brussels
On a plane ride so bumpy that I almost cried
Clergymen in uniform and young girls pullin’ muscles
Everyone was there to greet me when I stepped inside
Newspapermen eating candy
Had to be held down by big police
Someday, everything is gonna be diff’rent
When I paint my masterpiece

CREDIT: Copyright © 1971 by Big Sky Music; renewed 1999 by Big Sky Music. Visit the author’s website:


Essay by Ada Limón

Speaking of art & politics…

: What man is that?

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Set him before me; let me see his face.

Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.

What say’st thou to me now? Speak once again.

Beware the ides of March.

He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.
It’s hard not to think of Caesar on the ides of March. All those knives, all those men of politics. However, I often find that it is not Caesar or Brutus that I think of the most, rather, it is the Soothsayer. The poor nameless fellow who wanders in to warn his dictator of the coming fall only to be shoved out of the way as men with important business to attend to go about their day.

Mainly, I think, Hey, I’d like a soothsayer! Or an oracle. Or a Ouija board, a magic eight ball, even a good horoscope. Unlike Caesar (there’s really little comparison between us), I’d listen. Someone says, “Beware,” and I do, I pay attention.
 Maybe the soothsayers of today are the poets: Poor, often nameless, often shoved aside, often shouting something that no one is listening to.

But if the ides of March has taught us anything (aside from never befriending a man named Brutus), it is that we must listen to the soothsayers. Perhaps it could save our lives.
That sounds dramatic, of course, and it is. I like a bit of the dramatic. I mean, I’m talking about Caesar.

But in all honesty, I do believe that we are often delivered a poem exactly when we need it—when we are unaware that we are asking. We’ve all been on those marble steps, thinking, Man I’m done with this whole Rome thing. Let’s throw in the toga. And just then someone hands us a note, a poem. Say it’s, “Listen” by W.S. Merwin and we read: 
“with the cities growing over us like earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving 
dark though it is.”
And we’re reminded to do so.

Thank you. Thank you Rome. Thank you Romans. And for one more day we walk up the steps and we’re reminded to be, well, alive and for the meantime, happy about it.
 If it weren’t for those many poet/soothsayers, I’d most likely have taken the wrong path numerous times. Maybe you’ll get a poem today, passed under the door like a note. Read it, and in honor of the ides of March, pay attention.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ada Limón is the author of three books of poetry, Lucky Wreck, This Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from New York University. Limón has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and is one of the judges for the 2013 National Book Award in Poetry. She works as a freelance writer and splits her time between Lexington, Kentucky, and Sonoma, California (with a great deal of New York in between). Her new book of poems, Bright Dead Things is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2015. Visit her at

AUTHOR PHOTO by Jude Domski

by C.P. Cavafy

My soul, guard against pomp and glory.
And if you can’t curb your ambitions,
at least pursue them hesitantly, cautiously.
And the higher you go,
the more searching and careful you need to be.
And when you reach your summit, Caesar at last —
when you assume the role of someone as great as that —
be really careful as you go out into the street,
a conspicuous man of power with your retinue;
and should a certain Artemidoros
come up to you out of the crowd, bringing a letter,
and say hurriedly: “Read this right away.
It’s about you, and it’s vitally important,”
be sure to stop; be sure to put off
all talk or business; be sure to keep clear
of those who salute and bow to you
(they can be seen later); let even
the Senate itself wait — and find out at once
what vital news Artemidoros has written down for you.

SOURCE: Poetry magazine (August 1972)

IMAGE: Laurel leaf crown


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Constantine P. Cavafy (1863- 1933) was a poet of Greek extraction born in Alexandria, Egypt. When he was nine, his family moved to Liverpool, England. For most his his life, Cavafy worked as a journalist and civil servant. The author of 154 published poems, his most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday. He is widely considered the most distinguished Greek poet of the twentieth century.

by Bob Dylan

Oh, the hours that I spent inside the Coloseum,
Dodging lions and wasting time.
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle 
I could hardly stand to see ‘em
Yes, it sure has been a long, hard climb
Train wheels runnin’ through the back of my memory
When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese.
Some day everything is going to sound like a rhapsody
When I pain my masterpiece. 

Listen to The Band (with Levon Helm — RIP — singing) perform the song on YouTube.

Photo: Coliseum, Roma, by Jolove55


It’s July, and you still have six months of 2012 to accomplish all you set out to do in January.  Think of July — named for Julius Caesar, born this month in 100 B.C. — as January redux: Another chance to begin. And who doesn’t love new beginnings?

Photo: Coliseum, Roma, by Jolove55