A Poisoner’s Manual

          For Lucrezia—


Calumny doesn’t have to be a calamity, a reputation disintegrating • as if it’s been filtered through a game of Chinese • Whispers isn’t the end feared by some, many, in fact, • have recovered, intact, their dignity and influence without even acknowledging • the attempted attack, with my help they have survived the • •


demands of public life with minimal impact, astringent as persimmon • once bitten, revenge is a fragrance whose taste quickens its • effect in those it afflicts, sickening without any obvious symptoms • those derelicts who would have made you their victim, doing • away with them by chewing away at them from within, • •


feasting without ceasing on the very core of their being, • sated only once they’ve been wasted, and by then you’ll • have vanquished your opponents before any notice can be made • or given of them having gone missing, this disappearance of • your critics and the increase of your power is the • •


promise of a poisoner’s manual, and what I offer princes, • if ever you’ve encountered opposition in your ascent, is the • opportunity to make vanish every enemy who’s accused you of • vanity, deflecting evil intent using the techniques of the Renaissance, • at the expense of innocence, experience makes us intimate friends.