A New Poem: The Streets of Trastevere are Haunted…

I've begun to write again...
Crossing Ponte Sisto to Trastevere, 2.20.11
Crossing Ponte Sisto to Trastevere, 2.20.11
The Streets of Trastevere are Haunted

I spend a lot of time walking.
I’ve got no particular place to go,
but still I walk

pass the people who look
nothing like me,
pass the ones who speak
languages foreign to me,
pass the crippled homeless man
on that bridge, Ponte Sisto;

the one I cross too often,
the one that was built by prostitution,
the one where I see people
who look…

like me,
with shades of dark, naturally,
but darkened even more
by prolonged time spent
under the sun, selling

knock-off wares to tourists,
who barely care
and are feeling superior
(even though they would never admit it);

shades so dark that both sclera and teeth
appear whiter than the white
of those to whom they try to sell
tokens of meaninglessness,

and so my senses always become flooded
by the decay of living wastefully,

because I desire neither to feel nor to think
beyond the moment’s necessities,
because I desire neither the weight
of possessions nor being possessed
by life-long acquisition;

still it’s always like that,
that we are made to experience,
 either directly or vicariously,
 the things we reject:

these darkened men who
always stare and speak at me,
the homeless man who
always smiles and bows to me,
the self-inflated tourists who
always see and brush pass me

as I walk, step by broken step,
on cobblestones that hurt
my already broken feet
and engrave in my already broken soul
the fact that I’m living again somewhere

that doesn’t belong to me,
that is beyond anything
that I should’ve experienced:
this city and its history.

The streets of Trastevere are haunted.
And I’ve got nowhere but there to go,
passing by broken English speakers
offering this and that,
“Vivo qua” I say,
and again acknowledge to myself
that it’s already been three years
of vacuous time

that I’ve yet to fill with memories
of these streets,
of these people,
who spend everything:
time, money, bodies, minds,
and souls to achieve
the memories I refuse to acquire.


In the autumn the streets are owned
by starlings and umbrellas,
and evening becomes a time to fear,
with sounds like too many squeaking mice
to match the rats that run under feet,
down by the Tiber,
or up along the streets,
in the depth of the subway system,

where I heard that someone,
who didn’t belong here,
had their body tossed;
but they didn’t look like me,
probably they smiled and thought
the best of the world around them,
even of these haunted streets.


5 thoughts on “A New Poem: The Streets of Trastevere are Haunted…

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