“Three Couples at Trieste Stazione” by James Ragan

James Ragan


The first, Venetian lovers, with trysting hands
like birch branching through the window,
do not talk or breathe, but leafing tongues
in words too thick for seeing, the girl
still wears her thought’s seduction in smoked perfume
a soldier walks into, backward, eyes saluting.

The second, boarding baggage, knows the terror
that follows once the straps are hung
on shoulders or on rungs above the cabin sink.
He has packed the year’s mementos greed has won,
his nona sliding lires into hands her eyes will bless
in thought each night against her cheek.

The third will not survive the train’s departure,
the kiss so passionately endured it quickens
as though in touch, their souls ignite in water
as in fire. They have passed what aging each denies,
and the body ruins, their Tuscan masks disguise,
will splinter into bones like timber, one onto the other.

from Rattle #12, Winter 1999


James Ragan: “I write to break down borders. My sensibility has always been global, to find expression through my poetry, plays, and films to bring individuals and worlds, seemingly apart, closer in understanding.”


James Ragan is the guest on this week’s Rattlecast! Click here to watch …

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