Breath-sent Cantos

Venive cruise ship

cruise ship anchored
off the Grand Canal
dwarfs boats of Venice
stacked decks regular as ridges
of a washboard, whiteboard side
sterile as an OR wall against
vibrant architecture— the difference
between sterility and life,
between steel and flesh
set by the contrast
given by arcs of antique bridges,
arches of hand-laid stone,
canyon walls that, like canzones,
rise from canals—
chiaroscuro throbbing against
hulking digital grid
looming as real as the sum of Venice’s
antiquity, real as a lotus on a pond,
but white hulk nevertheless
without hint of  blood and sweat or
spit and bone, the drone
of machine rather than
the rising falling riffs of
breath-sent cantos


Jim Culleny