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Dec 4, 2012

Lord Byron’s Lips - Thomas Michael McDade

Lord Byron stands in
the Borghese Gardens
atop a block marked
with lines from “Childe
Harold's Pilgrimage.”
Rome is hot,
the poet sweats,
imagines a grotto
in La Spezia and a plaque
listing his aquatic feats.
On San Lazzaro
where he fled Venice
to learn Armenian,
I visit his study.
I view his pen, inkwell,
and scrawled autograph.
I try his meditation hill.
My guide who looks like
St. Jerome, says Byron
swam here hoping to leave
his imagination behind.
Byron stares from
his portrait with lips
puckered from an Adriatic
crawl, or love, as I pay
the cleric 5,000 lire
for the tour and inhale
any castoff Byronic fancy.
Whether I see him swimming
beside the boat-bus back or
it's just drizzle casting me
into a time dissolve
is anybody’s guess
but mine.
Reappearing following
my fifth or sixth bottle of puke poor
Peroni, I invite him and his Childe
Harold to doctor their lips
wet their whistles if
heroic enough.

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