Decadence

 
by Dr. William Miller
 
My Son on the Spanish Steps
 
My son went to Rome
to study, write, explore
dance clubs and ruins.
 
I told him to sit on
the “ Spanish Steps,”
talk to the travelers,
drink good, cheap wine.
 
Then, he was to find
the room where
Keats died, “the poet
of the earth,
the beating heart!”
 
That room was still
a shrine all young
poets like himself
owed a pilgrimage.
                                                             
He promised he would
but later wrote me
a different story.
 
He was about to go in,
stand by the deathbed,
when he met this
Danish girl, tall,
red-haired.
 
They spoke by looks
and gestures, a few
common words,
but well enough
to know they had
to leave that sickness,
           sadness behind.         
                                                                                                                           
                They walked through                 
a poor neighborhood,
got gladly lost,
found a wine bar
in a narrow lane.
 
They drank and drank,
not needing even
a few words
to say what they
both wanted …
 
My son’s email
ended there, but
I’m sure they kissed
more than once against
an ancient wall.
 
And that wall was
far from a room where
a poet was bled to
death, great
passions died …
 
They weren’t lovers
 on a cold urn,
but more alive
with each touch and taste,
forever young.
           
 
 
 “The Shadow” 1932
 
She bought the radio
with eggs from
a sagging wire coup.
 
Once a week, she sat
on the plank floor,
close to the dials
and yellow light.
 
A strange, thrilling
music slowly filled
the dark room …
 
She listened to this
week’s mystery
in a distant city
she’d never see.
 
With two flashing pistols,
“The Shadow” stopped
“The Black Falcon” from
ruling the world …
 
She was glad
for that hour,
the hour she forgot
about the choice
she’d soon have to make:
 
a wedding to a much
older man, tending sick
children by oil light;
 
a job in a mill
where girls grew old
at looms always booming.
 
The end was the same,
an early grave
on a red-clay hill …
 
She wanted to live
in that dark, city world
where every wrong
was made right.
 
In a black cape,
 “The Shadow” walked
a cold, windy street,
fought evil in the heart.

 
Dr. WILLIAM MILLER lives and writes in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  He has published five collections of poetry, twelve books for children and a mystery novel.        
 
 

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Belle Rêve Literary Journal is a southern literary experience. Our mission is to capture everything that makes the South and its residents unique through the best contemporary literature we can find. We publish new works weekly.