M. F. Nagel

M. F. Nagel

M. F. Nagel was born in anchorage Alaska, her Athabaskan and Eyak heritage gave her a love of poetry.

M. F. Nagel now lives and writes near the banks of the Matanuska river in the Palmer Butte, Alaska, where the moose, wild dogs, roses and salmon berries provide unending joy and inspiration.

 
AFTERNOON AT THE UFFIZI

I came to the Uffizi
On a Tuesday afternoon
To escape the Tuscan rains.
I saw a class of little children
As they sat in their little chairs
Before the Botticelli’s.
I saw them
Dancing with the graces
And
Making funny faces.
As I wandered through corridors
Alone.

Io studentesso
Di Lorenzo IL magnifico.

Before dusk
I saw
The sleepy curators
Sweeping the ancient dusts
In conversation with the busts
Of the dead Caesars.
Then
I waved
My arrivederci
To a Tuesday
Afternoon
At the Uffizi
Where I came
To escape
The Tuscan rains.

 
THE AMERICAN WAR DEAD IN ITALY

(American cemetery in Florence)
(Kilroy e stato qui)

 
They shipped out.
Landed
In a place of bread and grapes
June 1944
Soldiers.
Sailors.
Airmen. 

The American war dead in Italy
Bleached by the Tuscan sun. 

May 2
Il Duce surrendered
The battle of Rome.
Rows and rows
     Of
White crosses
Six pointed stars
Bend the earth
Into infinity.
 
 
The American war dead in Italy.
Bleached by the Tuscan sun. 

4,402.

None unknown
Each to each.
Warriors.
4,402.
On a hill
Between
Florence and Chianti
An American flag
Unfurls
A sentry
In
Eternal watch
Stands
In
Eternal remembrance
For

The American war dead in Italy
Bleached by the Tuscan sun.  

But.
Before.
Before
Came
A
G.I. with a sharp eye,
A good knife.
Carving,
Carving
In the ancient grove. 

KILROY WAS HERE
(Kilroy e stato qui, Molto tempo fa).

 
MARIO THE GREEK GOD

When Mario poured
A drink
In his tavern at the corner of
Ouzo and afternoon,
A whistle away from the docks
He would give you the look;
Dead-eyed, curled lipped.
If he liked your face
He’d smile
And
Say;

I used to be a
Greek God.
But
Now I’m just
Goddamn Greek.

Then he’d pour another
Make the sign of the cross
To the Icon in the corner.
The Greeks invented
Democracy
Mario would be the first to say.
Aristotle’s poetics
Your turn to pay.

 
The abbot died Good Friday
 
The abbot died Good Friday.
Midday Holy Thursday
With matins said
He led his fellow friars in
A mass for the dead
 
The brothers wept and washed his feet
And drank the alter wines
Ashes to ashes
The abbot’s ancient dust
Was collected in a rush
Of angels wings
Entombed
In the gloom of holy Saturday afternoon
The abbot dreamed he saw
His Easter Sunday soup
And
The resurrection of the dead.

 
SHANGHAIED

When Christos got off the boat today
He did what first mates do 
Before they see their mothers 
After
His brother- in- law Rots
Waited
In the dark
Smoking a pack of cigarettes.

 
I drank my way around the world
Had a Singapore sling in a bar in Singapore

Nobody, ever shanghaied me

The old Greek would say;

Nobody

When he finished drinking his fisherman’s pay
And couldn’t remember his name
His brother in law, like a bellhop for bums
Would roll him on the docks
And take
The last dollar from his wallet. 

When he was sober
He’d call
Cousin Sinny.

They’d have a drink.
And
He’d tell him;
I drank my way around the world
Had a Singapore sling in a bar in Singapore

Nobody ever shanghaied me

The old Greek would say;

Nobody

Then
His brother in law
Would come into the bar
To buy a pack of cigarettes.

 
All poems on this post: © M. F. Nagel
Published with the permission of M. F. Nagel