A Roman Burial

A Roman Burial | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Pier Paolo Pasolini visiting the tomb of Antonio Gramsci. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

in him those brave
translunary things

Michael Drayton

1. Police Report

Not the hustler,
a boy you’d loved—the Roman
convicted of your murder

on the beaches of Ostia.
Or Maria Callas singing,
Ecco il velen di Laura. . .

It was the stolen film rolls,
and the Mafia, discreetly
extorting you, Pier Paolo, for Saló

2. Post-Mortem

A pipe; smashed testicles.
Run over by my own car—
my carcass, a receptacle

on fire. What a lonely bastard
watching my days
splashing against the alley dirt

like piss near a cypress.
A spectacle. This hatred
becoming nothing, becoming even less. . .

3. In Venice

Walking that winter, confronted
by a rat. . . Merlot-colored,
I was wearing monkstraps

with blue soles; hand-made leather,
Stefano Branchini.
I’d bought them for my burial

opening night at La Fenice.
I don’t believe in ghosts,
only gravesites. The rat was hungry.

Miguel Murphy is the author most recently of Shoreditch (2021), his third collection of poetry. He lives in Southern California where he teaches at Santa Monica College.
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