He was a miser, stank, wore his leather boots to bed
asked to be buried in his spurs. He was gay
but wrote poetry to a Christian lady, argued
with popes, was canny and faked
paintings in the hand of Older Masters.
He had excellent PR. His surly temper
precluded many friends, but Raphael
sneaked into the Sistine Chapel to be raptured
by his art. Indeed, who is not? Buonarroti
depicted himself flayed, but in Christ’s line of sight.
The rest of us transcend our skins
when caught up in the spectacle of his Judgment
Day, or the eyes of the Delphic oracle.
Walking along the Via Condotti, rich dresses dazzle me, wrapped
around vivacious Roman women and shameless
sexy plastic forms. Seduction
like a good house wine intoxicates
me. I want a man in my arms
and I want grace’s dispensation.
There is an empty pad of paper by my bed.
It is clear that my art, fueled by ferocious longing,
will not bring me the release I pray for. In this
I keep the company of my betters. Matter is a haloed thief
of spirit. The body begets unredeemed light.
by Traci L. Slatton
Original publication: Sulphur River Literary Review, Volume XXI, No. 2, Fall, 2005.