La Dolce Vita


The first time, my folks must have borne me

to Fellini’s film to save bucks on a sitter. I still

hear my mother’s gasp when that plaster Christ

dangled, craned over Rome, and my father’s sigh

over Anita Ekberg’s well-aimed torpedo breasts.


The second time, at seventeen, I sighed myself

over pretty people in finned American convertibles

and tinny Roman Fiats–the paparazzi buzz and flash,

Mastroianni’s calibrated cool, cigarettes and espresso

steaming up Via Veneto. The vaunted rustic “miracle”

only mocked all the Church hoped to teach before

the sundrenched denouement on the beach.


Third time, charmless–in my thirties, good guys

seemed hyenas at best and the rest, sharks.

Even Miss Ekberg’s breasts were props

in a nonstop carnival of venal lusts.

The faithful seemed less funny and more desperate

at the miracle. At the beach, it was overcast–

nobody who’d fought for power was having any fun;

maybe it was the plaster Lenins cracking in flight

over grimmer capitals, further east, or maybe

it was just that I’d smooched lips I’d lose

across the rigid seats of my Fiat convertible

before dumping the gutless, sputtering wreck.


Fourth time, forties, I aimed my sighs behind

the camera, sure Fellini was worn-out from shouting

at extras lost in fields in search of epiphany,

from scouting locations in Via Veneto’s fumes,

and anxious to join Guilietta at the country house,

where she would reassure him he was no plaster idol,

no Cinecittà effete, and offer bread and wine

to remind him why life was sweet.

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