Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
I have come to rescue you
Mules on the road, troops mud-slogged,
wet in their capes. Heavy guns drawn by tractors.
Where the Isonzo River flows from the Julian Alps
into the Adriatic—now Slovenia—
40,000 Italians dead or wounded.
280,000 POWS, 350,000 deserters or stragglers.
There were defeats before (and after)
but for the Italians, nothing like Caporetto.
A nation looked to a new Italy—
Who dared oppose the jutting jaw,
the black-shirt swagger?
Tua promesa. Your brightness—your splendor.
(In some corners of Italy,
your portrait remains—)
‘Indulgent’ toward professors, you read Socrates
But your feet proved wingless in the free fall.
Knave or fool?
A noose of regrets.
Sumptuous tears. The rusty knife,
moldy prayer book, no use.
No apologia, only the claim:
I am crucified by my destiny.
Copyright 2016 Joan E. Bauer. First published in Rune and republished in Vox Populi by permission of the author.
Benito Mussolini (1883 – 1945)