Once, there were no panhandlers in La

Serenissma. Now there are four beggars –

men from Dalmatia, the old colonies,

and a Roma woman with no past.

Near the Rialto, two alternate

on the same pitch: heads sunk, hands out, their stories

in English on cardboard. The third plays

an accordion near the Accademia,

his history on plywood at his feet.

Only the woman, dark-eyed, distressed, who sits

anonymous, huddled, swaddled against the

long wall of the Ospedale Civile,

looks charity the tourist in the eye.  She

takes the last  vaporetto  for Torcello

– and disembarks somewhere in the dark lagoon:

but returns always as if she were any

other traveller on the chopped and dancing

water, under the pellucid sky, in the

serenity of the light.





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  1. #1 by Ian Craine - December 15th, 2012 at 19:23

    The great Dalmatian cities are perhaps more than mere Venetian colonies.

    Spalato, where Diocletian built his mighty palace, is older than Venice which owes its existence to Romans fleeing the Germanic invaders.

    Ragusa would by the 16th Century become an entrepot to rival Venice itself, and even today under its Slavic name Dubrovnik remains one of Europe’s great cities.

  2. #2 by Adrian Ackroyd - December 17th, 2012 at 10:30

    Liked ‘DECLINE AND FALL’ as a reflection on modern day Venice contrasted with the reflections of and into the past pointed to by the other 4 poems.

  3. #3 by David Selzer - December 17th, 2012 at 14:22

    All true, Ian, but Venetians would see Dalmatia et al as ‘the old colonies’. ‘Once, there were no panhandlers…’

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