June-August 2019

This posting marks three by 3’s eighth year of publication. In commemoration, three poems are reprised:  “On Andean Time” was originally posted in December 2014, “The Main Attraction in Marrakesh,”  December 2015  and  “A Self Guided Tour of Pompeii,”  March 2017.  Accordingly, they all relate to a place within a context of time.

On Andean Time

By degrees, the lower slopes turn
into a kaleidoscope—
on one side, blue mingles with white,
a split image of the sky.
On the other, yellow flashes—
as bright as sunlight…

In winter these slopes look like
the rest of the mountain—
no flowers blooming out
of season, only near and far
the cold glow of snow.

 

The Main Attraction in Marrakesh

On weekdays, as a rule,
the market opens
after morning prayers,
closes before evening call…

The old wall looks like a floor
covered with rugs in a range
of sizes, shapes, magic colors.
Whenever the wind blows,
they wave for attention.

Perfume vendors mind booths
lined with shelves.
They sell by scent, amount,
choice of bottle.
Each promises more
than he can deliver.

The spice stalls make
breathing a pleasure.
Deep draughts, one
after another, bring out
their best and worst.

In a tent armed with guards,
there’s much to see,
but not touch.
Glass counters, aisle
by aisle, showcase rare gems,
jewels fit for a sheik.

Tourists are always welcome,
even those who only
browse, complain about
the dust and heat.
Shoppers with hard currency
can buy whatever they want.

 

A Self Guided Tour of Pompeii

                           1.

The citizens of Pompeii worshiped lots of gods—
publicly in temples, privately at home.
Jove, Jupiter, Minerva, Apollo, topped the rosters.
Thanks to them fortune fared good or bad.
More, but of lesser stature, meddled in household affairs.
The Lares enshrined within atriums look human,
dress alike, carry buckets laden with wine,
big and small horns for serving.

                              2.

Tourists visiting the City view Vesuvius
to the north, weather permitting.
Its dark side hides within a deep crater
that can erupt at any time.
The latest, in 1944, lasted a week,
razed an allied air base, neighboring towns,
buckled the strada to Naples.

                              3.

On display among the ruins
lie mummies from all walks of life.
Cooling lava cast them, by chance,
in their final moments.
They remain mute while plaques
in French, Italian, English,
cite facts and figures
incapable of explaining why.

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