New York City skyline at night


Spring 2009



Patrick Henry

Mosaic at Ravenna

Four corners of the square hold: first: St Francis church;
Next: the tomb of Dante, close by the museum of his times;
Thirdly, the house where Byron lived for a while;
Lastly: this pavement café where I write in the late sun.
The monk's house of prayer outlines his stark, plain style.
Inside, shadows on cold stones calm the intense mind.
The poets each were forced here in grand kind of exile,
By the Tuscan High Cabbala; or by the English moral code.

A girl sitting close by, glances at my notepad.
"You are writing poetry!" Her accusation stops all sound
Of cups, spoons, cash-tills, tongues babbling; upon the shock.
To this charge I must plead guilty, owning up each time.
Time since let off the famous poets. What sentence could fall now?
How did she guess? Short lines can be letters or shopping lists.
She has the eye for telltale verse, that makes bored pupils droop;
But pumps the pulse leaping in addicts needled by this vice.

Beyond poetry offences, I act the fugitive in this city;
Broke, waiting drafts from London , the banks here might cash;
Sleeping rough, eating dry bread; counting each coin each minute;
While seeing for free, the mosaic exhibits I came for.
Someone longing for this trip, struck disaster, missed the chance.
In place of them, I find how these slight vivid stones make up
The vast picture how a religio-Roman capital ruled here.
State powers rush my cash through. I warm to that side of belief.



Back to Poetry