Five Poems


Kalends; August 1
Things are bad now?  Trust me: They will be worse.
On the faithful day the arch was finished,
I was asked to speak the rite, make the wish   
Of happy hope, but when I read the verse
For Vestus Spes the ambitious transverse 
Arch collapsed on Priestess Hope: She was squished
Flat.  Well, then my verse of hope was stale fish
And I was blamed for squashing Hope, accursed
By day’s end.  I was battered to confess,            
And confessed, as who would not.  My fault.  Oops.
The hopeless part?  Itching while restrained.  Nope,
Couldn’t scratch and still cannot in this blessed
Wall of Spes’ squeezed in Santa Nicola                      
Where I am stuck, a spackled scagliola.   


An ancient stranger handed me the leaves
And turned away and slipped into the mist.      
On the leaves in slanted Latin were twisted        
Letters resisting when I tried to read
Them.  I persisted and I could believe
That low whispers rose from the wrinkled list
Of prophesies.  “Shush!” I said.  It insisted,
Whispering nonsense.  I was not deceived,
This was the real thing and it was trouble.
Damned stranger, she didn’t want them either.
Wrinkled old Sibyl, floating on the ether;
Ouu, “I want to die.  I want to die.”  double
Tongued witch.  Now I am stuck with this old rot when
I thought the cursed things were burned by Christians.


The Pope in Rome can draft a prayer;
    John Russell Pope can draw a dome;
    The poet Pope can pen a pun;
I hope to style a smart affair                         
With Liza of the flaming hair.
    That girl whose quick ideas run
    Quite naked through a hippodrome
Engraved in pictures fine and rare.
O, I have seen her skipping through
    Egyptian temples—clever minx,
    I’ve seen her smile back at the sphinx
And wink.  Ah…the sphinx winked, too.
Who wouldn’t craft a cunning ayre
To win the girl of flaming hair?


Ides; August 13
Old jackal, he will talk with anyone,
    As can be seen in his statue.
    You’ll see, he will talk with you.
But beware, he’s a trickster, full of fun
And always changing.  The God of seasons,
    Growing gardens, cherries too.
    You know Pomona?  No?  Who
Was she?  Just a bud that he forced up.  Dun  
Got her unawares.  She was a pretty
    Thing, ripe and luscious, sweet rose
    Lipped, like you dear.   He knows…
I shouldn’t tell.  I should tell?  You will see
That worn old stone blossom with a kiss.  Yes,    
The God’s garden grows on a kiss.  Like this.


I Nones—IV Ides, April 4-10

Your Great Mom pebble head’s
    A cheap Greek trick:
    Slick politics;
Nasty, slutty maenads;
Phrygian knuckleheads;
    Limp dick eunuch,
    Ball-less prick
I dare ya, go ahead,
Beg for another obal,
    See what ya get.
    State funds?  Yet,
Girly, ya got no balls.    
Go home, Galli.  Foreign
Radical, unRoman.

About Michael Curtis

Michael Curtis is a classical sculptor, painter, and architect who lives in Alexandria, Virginia. His verses have been published in Candelabrum, Blue Unicorn, The New Formalist, The Lyric, American Arts Quarterly, Amphora, Pivot, and many other journals. His translation of Afrikaans verse, “Land of Sunlight and Stars” will be published in 2012.