Outside the bar in Sorrento,
We could hear the two-man band singing
American pop in Italian
To the chords of an electric piano and
the beat of a drum machine.
"Let's find the beach," she
She heard the lapping waves at the end
of the footpaths,
Where wood boats, blue, yellow, and red,
Resting on pebbles, waited for the high
To set them tugging at the lines
Until fishermen released them
Into the liquid azure of the
"It's dark," I said, "and
these cliffs are high."
Just two days before, in Florence,
With the sky draping il Duomo,
We peered from beneath a red umbrella on
Hercules, David, and Neptune,
White stones chipped to art by the
passion of sculptors.
We watched the revelers in the Piazza
around the corner from the Gates of
Into the small hours of the first day of
"It’s late. We should go back to
the hotel with the others," I said.
Dante had his Beatrice, Boticelli his
Giotto must have taken his to the top of
To view the red tile blanket over
In the dusky light before the morning
When the first Medici climbed the four
hundred steps to
Gaze down on the Palazzo Vecchio.
I should have followed her to the sea.
Sunday Night in the
Anna Laura sang her favorite song every
"I'm gonna take a trip in the good
ole gospel ship,
I'm goin' far beyond the sky."
Crowded to the walls in the church
between the mountain and creek,
Folks in Sunday overalls sang down the
almighty power of God.
"If you're ashamed of me, you have
no cause to be,
For with Him I am an heir."
Women danced in the aisles,
Heads jerked back and forth,
Hairpins and shoes flew,
Children hid beneath pews on the sawdust
To escape flailing arms.
"If too much fault you find, you'll
surely be left behind,
While I go sailing through the air."
A wayward teen ran to the altar to be
From eternal damnation in Hell.
The week before he had let in a pig
During Sunday night testimony service.
"I'm gonna shout and sing, until
all the heavens ring,
While I'm bidding this world goodbye."
The music drifted up the holler to the
tops of the ridges
Proclaiming the word to raccoons and
has served as Chair of the English Department at the University of
Southern Indiana since 2008. Before that, he taught English at Wilmington
College for eighteen years. He has taught and published in the areas of
American studies, ethnic literature, and global studies. His creative work has
been published in the Aurorean,
Estuary, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Coal: A Poetry Anthology. His work recently
has centered on travel.