Breath-sent Cantos


cruise ship anchored
off the Grand CanalVenive cruise ship
dwarfs gondolas;
stacked decks aligned as
washboard ridges, whiteboard
flanks sterile as an OR wall
against vibrant architecture—
contrast of life and metal,
clash of steel and flesh
set by the conjunctions of arcs
of elegant bridges— Ponte di Rialto,
Ponte dei Sospiri, Ponte degli Scalzi,
arches of hand-laid stone,
canyon walls like canzones
rise from canals—
chiaroscuro throbbing against
a hulking digital grid, looming
as real as the distillation of Venetian
antiquity, real as a lotus on a pond
the white hulk, nevertheless,
without hint of  blood, sweat,
spit or bone, machine drone
rather than rising falling riffs
of breath-sent cantos

Jim Culleny