Campo de’ Fiori

To Bruno—
     the century predicted by him—
          here where the fire burned—
     Ash Wednesday (February 17), 1600—1


Fire as truth, how I burn for you,
a whisper through a brush, hair rushing between
fingers to unbraid itself, breath loosening what secrets
have not yet left, webs of weakness stringing
on liars who have played us both before,
choirs rehearsing denial to perform disavowals of their
love more powerful than any psalmists ever before
had the balls, the brazen chutzpah, to handle


better, when, in the end, in our Hiddekel,
the river of fire where angels dip their
tongues before they can speak, I have returned
to tell of our fall, burning the bouquet
turning burden to a banquet, thieves of this
glimpse feasting like fiends on my letting go
as I weep, not for loss, but the
cost of it all, of having to pay


so much for getting what I wanted, to
know only now how things go for those
of us for whom this bleeding out is
a leaking of truth whose flow no spectators
can slow, impostors poised to pose as concerned,
my words are another world’s unheard prose my
pain reworks into songs, verses kindled with my
own heat, our world is what we show,


what we cannot speak, the way you perceive
me is not the way I perceive my
Self, a question constructed from a mess, I
answer only to the one who can deconstruct
the façade I erect, can put up with
how I front in the presence of an
audience, it is all in your head, the
secret is buried, the tongue its key, guarded


by silence resting between teeth, you are what
I speak, gone when I say nothing, then
something, someone, your beauty the only reason to
believe in god’s existence, more proof of him
than I need when I manifest a feast
and have you to eat, foregoing Courbet’s L’Origine
du monde to greet between two mountains a
better end, hanging on after pounding in, surviving


the little death of my own crucifixion to
revel in the apocalypse sown in your garden
there, heaven’s reflection, ecstasy in Gethsemane, sweating seeds
dropped like swollen beads thrown from a bursting
rosary, in my dreams every night since then
perusing the Parousia of your second coming, its
revelation inundating my mind’s eye with sickened sight,
fulfilling filth curing any ill will my reactionary


criticism since our splitting might have spread, offering
up this vision without giving in, burning as
I am an apple, per Kabbalistic tradition, to
resist temptation, lest I succumb again to your
sadism, since every poet is an ardent proponent
of masochism, suffering a lattice-work of soft light
navigating the flesh of his extinguished lover’s alabaster
thighs, brunet shadows relinquishing splintered glimpses between sighs,


coveted tendrils of musk covering up his blush
as my tongue made a garden of that
bush, pushing into that trench of yours this
work will immortalize as an experience much more
universal than it was personal, persistent kisses where
muscle meets manhood in a grotto of sweat
below a field of broken flowers, stems bent
by clenched fists, every lick tasked like a


slave’s master with the rake’s errand of wielding
lust’s spade to dig from love’s grave an
unrepentant memory of recanted sin’s taste, a withdrawn
dick mining flavour from his exertions’ spent scent’s
secretions, when you are reading this maybe you
will recall the feeling, of no desire of
yours ever being refused by the man before
whom you are now kneeling, a former muse


seeking a portentous omen or full-on forgiveness for
speaking oracles against my success, begging pardon for
your loss, for handing our executioner the torch
he tossed on the bonfire of my vanity
you once called hot, this is what happens
when you fall for someone you are not,
when all your flaws become art you fear,
in an instant, a heart held dear vanishes.

1This dedication has been translated into English from the Italian of the inscription at the base of the monolithic granite plinth atop which Ettore Ferrari’s ominous 1889 bronze statue of Giordano Bruno dominates Rome’s expansive Campo de’ Fiori. The eponymous piazza of the poem’s title is today as popular and populous an open-air market- and gathering-place as it was then where, on the date memorialized by that towering monument, the Inquisition martyred by burning him at the stake erected on its site by the Catholic Church, that most erudite and forward-thinking of its countless convicted “heretics.” A firebrand polymath and occult adept whose book, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, ignited the seven-year trial which ended in flames on Ash Wednesday (of all days). Bruno’s thought and its consequences illuminated the transition of the Renaissance into the Enlightenment, anticipating not only the birth of the exoteric, but championing also the continuation of the esoteric, sciences. It is fitting, then, and no accident, that the statue’s gaze faces across the distance of centuries in the direction of Vatican City.