At PaestumOur bus maintains a distance-runner's pace.
Lurching on tires scraped bare as marrowbones,
It hauls us past a teeming marketplace.
We shun life. What we're after is old stones.
Pillars the Greeks erected with a crane
Went up in sections as canned fruit is stacked.
An accurate spear could pierce a soldier's brain
Before he'd even known he'd been attacked.
Bright fresco of a wild symposium
With busy whores, nude boys, a choice of wines—
("And where in Massachusetts are you from?")
Abruptly, snowdrifts clasp the Apennines.
"Wouldn't you think him practically alive?"
Says someone of a youth fresh out of school
Painted upon a tomb, who makes a dive
Into the next world's waiting swimmingpool.
Lunch is a belch-fest: rigatoni, beer.
A sawtoothed wind slices through fat-topped pines.
Weathered white temple columns linger here
Like gods who went away and left their spines.
from In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New and Selected Poems: 1955-2007 (John Hopkins, 2007)