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San Luca

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Below is the poem entitled San Luca which was written by poet Paul James. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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San Luca

He walks, rosary in hand, up the steps. 
His tread is broken, fragile, and the joggers 
Might hear his breath, each sharp inhalation, 
Each hissing exhalation, were it not for their 
Own breathless haste, their pounding feet, 
Strutting out their health in upward bounds. 

He takes a rest; age has bowed him. 
He wipes his brow. Sweat runs. Through 
The portico wall he watches the landscape 
Sizzle in the heat. Yet his feet are cold, so cold. 
No warmth can touch his extremities. The 
Deafening din of the cicadas sends him on. 

“Maria, beloved, only one, let me reach you, 
Give my feet strength, give my heart strength.” 
(666 arches up to San Luca, and how many steps? 
The devil is in the detail.) “Thank you, Maria, you 
Came to me in my dream, angel-light into this 
Dismal exile they call a Home.” 

Back there they will be wondering where he is. 
Nurses frantic, ringing round, searching. 
For months he sat slumped in his chair, they saw 
Him as already dead to the world, bled white of memory, 
Hands twitching to death’s tune, his soul dribbling down 
His neck, wan eyes watering into dissolution. 

But his pallour was contempt of all around – 
Dead to that, yes; turning inwards, away from 
The reek of disinfection toward memory fragrant 
With images of youth, his fingers dancing, his body 
Welling up with tears as he remembered her smile, 
An incandescence, illumination, true beauty. 

Onwards, upwards, she will be waiting like the last time, 
Her bridal tresses spilling from the sun, her gaze towards 
Him, a bouquet growing from her hands, from her waist the 
Cathedral train carrying all their dreams, and behind her 
San Luca, the organ music swelling the oleander-sweetened 
Air; she will be there, waiting for the last time. 

He climbs the final barrage of steps, and turns the corner. 
That is where the police await him, and Sister Grace, 
Who claps her hands in what could be indignation or relief, 
And he falls to his knees, his lips murmuring her name. 
“But your Maria is dead, Giorgio, long dead!” (Sister Grace shakes 
Her head), and she takes his hand and leads him away. 

She had found the faded photograph of the wedding by his 
chair, the rest had been intuition. Back in the home 
He appears confused, restless, in his bed he complains of 
Knocking – “don’t you hear it?” – and when the morning 
Comes he really is dead to the world, across his wizened 
Face an expression of grief too hard to bear.

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  1. Date: 12/15/2010 7:49:00 PM
    This paints a portrait of life, love and touches the heart. Don't worry about the lack of comments. It is very good. Hopefully poetry soup will feature it some week and will get more exposure. Vince

  1. Date: 12/14/2010 9:47:00 PM
    John is right , people see the length and quite often give it a miss, but it is a very good poem and I enjoyed it, and as it was mentioned on your blog, the more comments you make on other peoples work the more likely they will read yours and comment, good luck

  1. Date: 12/14/2010 8:53:00 PM
    I actually do like this one even better myself only for the fact that it as crystal clear for me. The other one was a wee bit over my head. I really love this one. I wrote one like this and ended it differently with the guy having a smile on his face for meeting his love across the veil! Luv, Andrea

  1. Date: 12/14/2010 6:36:00 PM
    Longer poems just simply don't get read as much as shorter poems, Paul. I see no other reason that the poem was not read more. Agape, Moses

  1. Date: 12/14/2010 4:06:00 PM
    Well Paul I see you are getting hits now. I think perhaps it was just the circumstance of the time that you posted that it was passed by. It is beautiful and narrative or free verse, well worth our time to read and comment. Now I will have to check out the one that got the hits and you didn't think was as worthy. I usually write in rhyme and am more apt to read that than free verse. Sometimes free verse isn't poetry at all but in this case it's a lovely, touching poem. Love, Joyce

  1. Date: 12/14/2010 1:19:00 PM
    Dear Deborah and Constance, thank you so much for stopping by, reading and commenting - it is much appreciated! And you are right, it's more of a narrative or prose poem than free verse. Long, yes, perhaps too long. Thank you again!

  1. Date: 12/14/2010 1:07:00 PM
    Dear new poet friend you asked in your blog for input so here's mine. Why isn't it read? Free Verse does not get much read on this site, #1. Second, it's long. Is it an excellent write, most assuredly in my mind! I don't think it is free verse though, more Prose Poetry. Soon as I get a minute I'll check out more I be THRILLED to have you write for my contest. I write a bit of free verse too. The Contest is Winter Holy Days. Light & Love

  1. Date: 12/14/2010 12:39:00 PM
    I think this poem is amazing and wonderful, but is it Free Verse, seems to me more like Narrative, as you are telling us a story, but no matter what you call it, outstanding writing, is what I think it is, well done~~

  1. Date: 12/14/2010 7:33:00 AM
    Oh, this is so very moving, Paul. Is it based on personal experience? It touches the reader so deeply to learn of this man's struggle not only to cope with the loss of his wife, but also to climb those steps as he recalls their wedding. Beautiful work! Thanks for mentioning this in your blog. Best wishes, Carolyn