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  • In the Palazzo chapel
    The family saint, darkly wrinkled
    Cramped, no doubt, in her thousand year cocoon,
    A holy Roman relic waiting
    in her frescoed hall
    locked down to keep her safe and safely in
    lest whiffs of judgment
    or other noxious airs
    wander loose
    a saintly sniff among the pale marble of pagan gods

    Rescued she was
    Not from her final martyrdom
    But from mercenary marauders
    Looking to trade her promise for a score of Caesar’s coin
    now she sits in splendor
    resting in a no flash, photos only with the five Euro photo pass, zone
    peace at last
    thus the family holy ghosts held close

    it is the walking ghosts that steal our ease and rest
    the threadbare, tattered host of holey ghosts
    that drink our dreams and steal the morrow from all hope

    we know them well
    these are hoarded closer still
    maybe, tipped on tip-toe
    on a topmost closet shelf,
    an artless stack of framed pictures
    Or, jumbled in a drawer, a toss of faded moments
    The stuff of ifs and maybes
    Talismans unmade
    Souvenirs from the land of nothing ventured

    even filed thus, even knowing them as well as I do, I awake,
    to see them ranked before me,

    sometimes in the hour between sleep and the alarm’s insistent call
    among the bars of night and moonlight stark and bare
    caught in the pines’ eerie stretch of shadow fingers
    sharp as etchings on the wall

    or, alone in a silent car,
    far ahead, city lights spangle the empty plain,
    while just as far behind, the warmth of home

    then I know they are close
    the walking ghosts
    threadbare skeletons
    Only tatters clinging where once life filled them round
    Screaming why me mouths and empty maybe eyes

    No wonder the Pope and kin let the family saint sleep within

    No wonder
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