Caravaggio

By Edward Butscher

Circling tourists, mainly American

and white-haired, are unable to dilute

its spotlight flood, the blood-letting

of a prone John the Baptist occupying

an entire wall in St. John’s Cathedral,

 

his zealot’s head bound for severing

to feed a reckless, feckless beauty—

or to float (strings invisible as shark

atoms) down to that sunless sea

of another poet’s opium dream.

 

A docked white yacht bares masts

tall enough to recall the bristling

forest of Barbarosa’s armadas

when Suleyman the Magnificent

twice gnashed his teeth against

Valletta’s star-stoned bunkers,

awaits our return with champagne

cocktails and glazed tea cakes.

 

The caught faux knight fled Malta

to reclaim Rome’s papal pardon

for his original crime, parading

rough trade across a Biblical stage,

painting the forbidden hidden light,

but he was wounded in the attempt,

fittingly dying of a fever at age 37.

 

Dance with me is the nightly request

as a school of mainly older bodies

surges around a rainbow-lit lounge,

childishly defying pain-jolted bones

and the fecal blackness smeared on

cabin portholes with a blind brush.

___

Poet, critic, and literary biographer, Edward Butscher resides with his wife, Paula Trachtman, in Greenport, Long Island. His poetry and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies since 1976. Collections of his poetry include Poems About SilenceAmagansett Cycle, and Child in the House. His biography Sylvia Path: Method and Madness, was the first of that poet, and Conrad Aiken: Poet of White Horse Vale won the Melville Kane Award from the Poetry Society of America.


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