Weekly Poem: ‘City Out of Time’


By Mark Conway

If you wake up
in a thickened hive of light,
and see the cypress,
eternal as the poor,
you know there’s still a Rome
and the Tiber rises
between the sycamores
that split the Lungotevere
in the spit- and pissed-on shade,
Campo dei Fiore still exists,
the statue of its burned mystic broods,
the beam of his black intensity
similar to yours,
the way you stood, brooding,
before the cloaked figure
of yourself and found it


Remember your body?
           How it lay mornings in the tropics
of the Albergo Sole,
before it got up to part
     the beaded curtains and smoke
from a balcony, admiring
the echoing pavilions, all
the period decor of your last
and finite life.


          You’d see them,
from that body, dismantle
the daily set-up for the market,
and later it, the ecstatic if of you.
       would soak up lemon-
juice and clams,
     sucking dry wine
through its strong white teeth
        and then lean back
into the last rags of light,
   the air immaculate,
shining like bandages.

Mark Conway is the author of the poetry collections “Any Holy City” (Silverfish Review Press, 2005) and “Dreaming Man, Face Down” (Dream Horse Press, 2010). He directs the Literary Arts Institute at the College of Saint Benedict.