Dante’s Eyes

Dante’s Eyes

Another blast from the past. Italy 2004 continued…[Warning: some R content]

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Kim and I lunching in Capri

June 5, 2004 

Frescoes are a poor man’s Bible in a time when a Bible cost as much as a house.

Dante’s eyes in his statue look alive but trapped in stone, possessed or dying. Dante was excommunicated and tried writing very well to be reinstated to Florence. Milan Kundera’s theory is that being excommunicated from your home makes you a better writer.

I need to get kicked out.

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By Bruno Barral CC Wikimedia

 

June 6, 2004

The poppies on the hillside look like light blood stains on green pants, scraped knees and grass stains. Boys playing in fields snatching at footballs and shoulders, tumbling to the ground and bruising. Wrapping their knobby bones and flesh together for mere seconds then pushing apart and running with a continued fervor.

One of the girls on the trip is eating an orange like an apple and biting into the skin and swallowing it.

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Hotel view in Sorrento

We went on the Blue Grotto boat ride around the Isle of Capri. Drove into a cave –sounds of water clapping against polished white walls. Echoes of voices like shards of glass cutting the water and hollowness. The water rises and sinks sending diamond bracelets dangling from stalactite hands. Dipping my palm into the turquoise Mediterranean Sea and when it dries in the Italian sun there is a shimmer of salt coating my fingers.

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Giorgio Sommer [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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Statue on the rock in Capri – Scugnizzo

The young man working the snack bar on the jetfoil to Capri looks like a man in a movie, not from good looks but in the nature in which he inhabits the room. Silent, sad eyes. He lightly probes the room. He trails a pretty older lady as she walks by then resigns to making espresso, staring at the slowly filling white cup with the same sad, empty expression. In the movie version of his life, we follow him back to his room. We call him Dante. He’s lonely, horny. He jerks off in his bedroom watching commercials for self-tanner. He imagines himself with the older lady. He lightly touches her breast. The linen of her shirt. Hesitates, pulls his hand away. His sad eyes searching her face. And then he’s back. Back to us, making the cappuccino, back to being alone.

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And for the hell of it, another poem:

Apollo and Daphne

Perhaps the characters will be named

Apollo and Daphne

Chasing one down a long hall of

glowering ancient busts,

Climbing into a laurel tree and

shivering from fear

and the cold night air. A predator

at the base with a gold

Arrow in his hind. Naming

oneself after a Greek myth

is only so cliché that it can

be new again.

The lead in her side causing an itch,

a tearing of the flesh, a vomiting

at the look of those loving eyes.

Let night come! She pleads,

Let the sun go away.

Let the leaves fall around the

Crowns of your head.

In Dante’s writing, the reader visited Heaven and Hell and everything in between…if that sort of fiction interests you, check out my satirical novel about religion on my other site here. A new chapter is posted each Wednesday afternoon. And don’t forget to add your email to both sites to follow all new content.

The Papal City

The Papal City

In honor of The Young Pope on HBO, I thought I’d share some more journal reflections from 2004 and a poem – what? Poetry? Read to the end for that lyrical treat.

June 4, 2004 – Vatican City

The walls of the Vatican support the hills of Rome. A cathedral built over a dead body of a saint. And in its walls, building up from the earth, it grew into his name, San Pietro, making rotting bone into crumbling wall. An idolatry of architecture. Walking over a grave.

St. Peter, crucified and buried outside the city. A heretic, outcast. 260 years later and his cathedral is revered, so easily reversed. Being outside the city, it was easily defeated and soon enough the walls were wrapped around to protect, to hold up the hills. Its own city, The Vatican. More prized than Rome itself.

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Perugino has Christ give Peter the keys to Heaven, a symbol of the Renaissance. St. Bartholomew holds his own skin that was taken from his body in life causing his death. And in this empty skin that he holds, Michelangelo’s face appears. St. Catherine holding her own spiked wheel was covered and her head was turned towards Christ after the artist died. The bodies emerging from the green, yellow ground with gap-toothed ugly faces and skulls draped with linen, a covered hand reaching up to a fleshless chin. The bodies are huge, holding up books and crowded among pillars. God is in a human brain touching Adam’s finger.

last-judgement

The Sistine Chapel smells like air conditioning, coldness and slightly like paint or the stuff that cleans paint. It also smells like bodies, lots of bodies pushing and gazing.

I get dizzy, staring up and circling all the bodies moving and twisting, separating the light from the dark, night from day.

brain

Air conditioning, it’s all I smell.

There’s a demon in the orange, red glow of Hell. His head shaded in grey with fur horns or thorns circling his skull. They pull and push and throw the writhing bodies down into the pits. Pleading to be freed one last time. To be redeemed and resurrected like Christ, wearing holes in their hands and feet and praising the light.

Jesus on the cross pieced together like a plastic action figure with bendable arms reaching out on the beams. Blood runs from his ribs down to his thigh and streaks down his arms to his pits.

How horrible is the guards job in the Chapel, silencing people all day long?

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And now, a poem (apologies for the spaces between each line, unintentional):

A New Blue

A bird nesting in ash

rising with glistening new feathers

from its own death,

The columns of St. Peter’s

rise into a horseshoe of human 

forms and masonry

A grave beneath a city of God

on Earth

Handed to the red Cardinals,

a bird of a different color

Rotting bone into crumbling wall

Building into a new name

San Pietro

Holy City

A heretic crying dirty words

outside the city walls

Pentecostal pinnings, a bird

voice warbling an ugly song

turned on his side and drained

of life

Blood rushing to the Christ points

and draining into a pool that

no Pietà would care to show

The apostle rotted away

outside Rome centuries

piling up on his dirty bones

Ash upon ash 

Dirt and dust

Clay in shapes and rebuilding

A man in breaths

A wall is built up

A cathedral     A holy sight

A religion

And a man becomes Saint

Michelangelo paints us God

Creates a new blue

Sistine Chapel images from Commons.Wikipedia – Public Domain