A Pope’s Youngster

©1999 Ward Kelley
Is there anything more artistic
than the movement of sliding skin,
hands on thighs, the revelation
of the flesh occupying flesh?
I do not know what else we could be for.

And if you do a thing - be brazen,
be true to the nature of your own flesh,
and do not tarry over morals or beliefs
or the sanctity of marriage;  do not ever once
lie to the impulses that have always embraced you.

All the poets write of death, a merriment
of pens rushing to this certain topic,
dashing like girls chasing a wooden ball
across a tailored lawn, all in all a solemn dance,
an event, a lance through the heart of youth.

So when you speak of me in subtle tones,
a madonna, a child, an affront, a weapon,
know that I do accept all these titles, and even
salute you who, so graciously, bestow them . . .
all in all, we all go to the same place,

the other side, and I only, in my girlish
manner, wanted to arrive there
on the attack, a full vibration
of what it meant to be, truly be, 
of the breathing ones . . . full most full.

We all desire to be as we must.
Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519), was the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI. Married five times before the age of twenty-two, Lucrezia apparently had numerous lovers, serving always as a political tool of her family’s ambitions.

Although historians have found little evidence to support this, she was reported to have been involved in an incestuous relationship with her father and two brothers, the younger of which, Cesare Borgia, was the model for Machiavelli’s “The Prince.” After her father’s death in 1502, she led an exemplary life in the Ferrarese court, as the wife of the Duke, and became a patron of various writers and painters, among them, Titian.

Mark Losing and Losing

©1999 Ward Kelley
The golden sheen of her hair flitting
against the blue of sky . . . I have
this image left to me . . . I possess
this final view of my dear daughter.

What is there to make of a world
that gives you the possession
of such great child beauty . . .
only to destroy it even while you hold it?

She was in my hands, as simply
as she was held in my mind;
she has always been a thought:
the clarity of her sweetness,
the butterfly-stepping kisses of her touch.

I am ashamed . . . I have made nothing
of this loss . . . I have not been able
to fathom it . . . and I have not seen
the way to call her back much more
than gold flickering against empty sky.

Amen, I guess, amen.
Mark Twain, pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), writer, who was America’s greatest humorist and one of her greatest novelists. Although he was popular while he lived, the literary world treated him in a patronizing manner, and even the generation that followed him failed to recognize his genius. Twains rise to prominence can be traced to Ernest Hemingway’s observation that “Huckleberry Finn” is both the first and best book of American literature, a view later espoused by William Faulkner. Toward the end of his life, Twain entered a black mood that lasted from 1896 to 1904, mostly precipitated by the devastation brought on by the death from meningitis of his favorite daughter, Susy.
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