Death in Venice

April 18, 2020

Oily water, rusty cages,
lion’s paw limp through wrought iron bars.
Butchered, bloody body found:
ringleader of a dead circus.

Yellowed teeth, black keys
of an orphaned gila monster.
Last notes of Tosca’s wails smothered,
trampled beneath pale green hooves.

A whisper fogs the window,
breath like stale whiskey, urine,
rotting teeth, raw red meat -
that intoxicating stench.
A gaunt, beckoning, beautiful shadow,
like Death come to life.

He lures me to the ocean.

I long to follow,
long for the salt and spray beyond the city stink,
long for the tranquil welcome of the waves,
need to escape the black and blood of these foul canals.
I crave quietus.

But the knife’s glint is less haunting
than the open abyss,
those dark, watery catacombs
beyond this mortal maze.

Instead I paint reptilian wings and hieroglyphs
inside these peeling, grey walls.
I capture the living macabre in mason jars,
and pour horrific spectacle
into a 1935 Underwood Standard.

I make mementos of him.

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