Not A City But A Beautiful Catastrophe
Nice sitting in Bar Barracuda in the Sottoripa
under the porticos, watching the city
come to life: the fish stalls, the hum
of the sopraelevata, the early-rising priests,
the cupola of Santa Maria delle Vigne
floating in vapour, the addicts, the hustlers,
the pimps, the street sellers, the matelots,
the fish-fryers, an endless unveiling
of gestures, and the Irishman
standing on his tower in Caricamento.
By eight o’clock the sun’s broken through.
It’s going to be a long, hot day.
Madonna dell’ Orto
The vaporetto lurched and groaned.
The water rising, splashing the tables
of the café laid out on the front.
The Madonna dell’ Orto.
The boatman lines up his boat.
People holding tight as they got off,
as they got on.
A cream motoscafo thumping past.
The lagoon that day was a garden under grey.
The currents firing fish,
the fruits of the sea,
the dead rising to the surface.
We saw Stravinsky and Brodsky,
we saw Diaghilev and Pound
The water had given them their shape
their musculature, their purpose.
Half fish, half men.
Some had re-acquired their beards.
The lagoon reeled with the violins
of Olga Rudge.
Pound’s jaws wide as a barracuda’s:
snapping at the bream
snapping at the poles in the water
snapping at his reputation.
Julian Stannard’s most recent collection is Heat Wave (Salt, 2020). He is a Reader in
English and Creative Writing at the University of Winchester.