a brief infidelity


i never loved you more

than i did this afternoon

when we met in front of the cafe


we should have been in Rome

sipping coffee in the Piazza Navonna,

our feet in the Fountain of the Four Rivers


I can see it now

we laugh and splash out of the fountain

to prop our wet feet up on the tanks


the soldiers have aimed their cannon

toward Trastevere at the old woman

who stands at a window and sings

ballads about wars Italians always lose


below her, spies run narrow alleys

and wine drips from pergola into mouths of cupids—

the baker shouts after school boys

who steal loaves from his stand out front


we loll in the Fontana di Trevi,

invite romans to join us in a fiesta of legs,

haunches, generous bosoms,

and men whose backsides make the old woman

remember the days when the boys were soft and taut


the pope climbs to St. Peter’s cupola

to issued another bull about people

making love in fountains and mocking soldiers

in tanks protecting the virtue of the republic


we wait a few minutes and make love again—

the old woman recites poems

while her husband, wrinkled like Umbria,

strums the whores of Perugia like lyres


people stream from theaters, love exhausted,

eyes glassy bright—fishermen jump

bow to bow across the Po


young lovers care not about fascisti, spia, polizia segreta

but only that Pan has ushered in a time of forgetfulness


yes, the soldiers turtle out of the tanks now

and the waiter at the Cafe Navonna

wears nothing but his apron


along the alleys, spies pine for days

when wretchedness was good business


young lovers stretch out along grapevines

and wine flows from the lips and nipples and penises

of every marble cherub and god


the old man runs off with his Perugian whores;

the old woman stands naked in the window

flanked with strong, anxious young men,

with never-ending hard ons and a penchant for service


she sings arias to linden budding in the square


under the statue of St. Andrew, the pope has given up,

he wanders St. Peter’s, raises his hands to heaven, cries,

and the world rejoices at rebirth


in this moment on a sidewalk

you and I become complete,

whole, needing nothing

with god’s blessing

Published by

Patrick Dobson

Patrick Dobson was founded in 1962. He is a writer, scholar, ironworker, and poet who lives in Kansas City, MO. He is author of two books with the University of Nebraska Press, Seldom Seen: A Journey into the Great Plains (2009) and Canoeing the Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer (May 2015). Dobson is a work in progress until termination.

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