William Ruleman recently visited Sicily for the first time. He often writes about his travels, as in his collections Munich Poems and Salzkammergut Poems (both from Cedar Springs Books, 2016). His volume of translations of poems by the German Romantics (Verse for the Journey, also from Cedar Springs Books) is subtitled Poems for the Wandering Life. More about him and his published works can be found at his website: www.williamruleman.com.
Taormina, March 2018
Sebastiano seemed a happy man—
A man who saw it as his role to serve.
He worked as hard as any waiter can
But never got upset or lost his nerve.
Short and broad of shoulders, belly, chest,
He had a limp he struggled to conceal.
But how that chest swelled in his velvet vest:
He was one of those who still can feel.
In flared-white-collared shirt and crisp black pants,
He greeted sea and sky with open hand,
Inviting us to join the morning’s dance
As if the day had come at his command.
And he himself seemed from some grander day
As he embraced the sun and said sole.
En Route from Taormina to Siracusa
6 March 2018
A wan sun strained to pierce gray clouds the day
We left Giardini-Naxos, seacoast site
Of the Greeks’ first settlement in Sicily.
Mount Etna eyed us as we made our way;
The Ionian winked, and, if we blinked, we might
Just see the toe of mainland Italy.
Orange and lemon trees bowed low with fruit;
Bougainvillea was in full bloom;
Palms and red-tiled roofs rushed past our train
With olives, prickly pears in mad pursuit.
In fevered flight to flee the morning’s gloom,
We sought the sun to shun the chill and rain,
For if our world gave “little cause” to sing,
We still held hope for what the day might bring.
6 March 2018
The Piazza Duomo loomed stark-white and chill.
My senses said this square was near the sea.
And, like the sea, its grandeur saps the will,
Upsetting all sense of identity.
This mad expanse of dazzling cream-hued stone,
Ill-peopled on this bleak late-winter’s day,
Does make one feel diminished and alone—
Left with little to think, much less to say.
Just so, the caves where Dionysus heard
Rebounding off the towering quarry walls
His treasonous prisoners’ every whispered word,
And then the arena where the whole crowd cried
With glee as gladiators left their stalls
And bets were cast to see who lived, who died.
In the Villa Communale, Taormina
Soft winds are fondling the cypress trees.
Calm waves caress the shore with muted roar.
The bougainvillea woos the eager bees;
All seem to say: Bring peace to earth once more.
The wispy cirrus clouds that stroke the blue,
The lizard slipping down the balustrade,
The pungent air, the pigeons’ soothing coo
All tell me: Do not fret or be afraid.
Carve rivers of reverence and pools of prayer.
Serve the birds that soar with ceaseless song.
Send your silent praise out on the air
To wander through the world and right each wrong,
Heal the hurts of those who feel distress,
And lend your poetry the power to bless.
All poems on this post: © William Ruleman
Published with the permission of William Ruleman