Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry

La Serenissima

Her stones weren’t made
For empires to trample them,
Nor her palaces or churches,
Nor the streets of water
Into her heart.

She was blessed and fierce,
And kindness never close
To her nature, in the dungeons
Under the roofs, in
The invisible rooms

Where judge, jury, and hangman
Leaned against dark wood, one
And the same, and in a single sentence,
With anonymous precision and
The mouth of a lion, despatched.

Her stones were made
To walk from, to conquer
Beyond the lagoon’s horizon,
And expand Europe into
The southern seas.

What fierce beauty remains,
Remains in spite of oppression,
Hers of others, and others’ of her,
Even greater tyrants than
Her secret councils.

She sinks under the weight
Of what she attracts now,
That horde of the curious,
Keen to spy on her failures
And past transgressions,

But she depends on their bounty
For her resurrection. And the
Scents remain those of
The centuries gone, and
Her pride is not diminished.

These stones, these palaces,
This bloodied flooded city.

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