Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SURFACES AND MASKS; 7, by CLARENCE MAJOR

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SURFACES AND MASKS; 7, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Too many gondolas
Last Line: What venice earned
Subject(s): Venice, Italy

Alone, I went into that special
little windowless bar
near Rialto market,
said to be the oldest of its kind
in Venice; ordered --
with exaggerated ease
(like an exhibitionist
waving his muleta unnecessarily) --
a tocai
and began to eat the sausages
from the tray,
just like the regulars do,
attempting to feel Venetian.
It didn't work.
The fish at the end
of the line finishes itself
by pulling against it. The bartender
overcharged me
as though I were a tourist.
Had I not lived here
a long, long time?
Then I returned
a week later,
quite by chance,
with A.,
who's very, very Venetian,
classy and quick.
We had our tocai
and sausage together.
Two fishermen in the alley
were laughing happily.
The bartender gave me,
like a present, his biggest smile.
I felt the Great Blue
River running through my veins.
I was a way
I had never been before.
A. and I had our tocai again
and the bartender
insisted we have thirds
on him.
With a light head
and happy at noon,
I walked home the busy way
and found P.
making lunch.

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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