Serene beneath its heart of beating stone

the city stretches and reclines in pleasing

ocher curving lines; spreads its gray paws

upon the piazzas, haunches tucked against

precisely windowed and proportionate facades;


turns -- a glint of claws.  Secreted daggers

at the Duomo’s doors, Savonarola’s

fierce dark face, edged as an axe,

still cut their saturnine steel ways below

arcades that run from weathered corner frescoes


past slit palace eyes, to the Campanile

lifting itself hand over hand in slender

colonnaded spurts of hope towards heaven.


What caused this nuclear outburst

we can never know, who talk

of grand dukes, Buonarotti, Fra Angelico


the force that splintered doors

still volleys, vaulting passionate and hard

down arched percussive halls to where its dwarf

retainers troop -- small shuffling bands

on tessellated floors.

Version first published in What Rough Beast, June 24, 2019