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I wish I’d paid more attention in history class

To the stories life was telling

In between the facts and dates

And names and places


I wish I’d paid attention just a little bit harder

To the dreams and journeys and the loves and lives lived


I fell in love with history in Arrowhead, California in late 2002

3 years out of high school

She was a humanities teacher and a writer of historical novels

And would fly me to Italy with her son, who I was sleeping with

He photographed art and food and cobblestones

And everything but me

And I had my affair with the city


A writer and a teacher and fluent in culture, food and art

She painted scenes in every Florentine corridor and alcove

And the world burst forth with vibrancy


Vasari Corridor – Medici’s safe passage for exodus in event of rebellion

The Sabine sculpture in the square – women clawing and agonizing, writhing in the bronze arms of lascivious and merciless barbarisms

Rusting keyless locks love-cast, myriad, across the shallow archings of Ponte Vecchio

Full-form rabbits skinned and slabbed, front-toothed and all eyes gazing crystal clearly in the butcher’s display boasting freshness

Ancient floodlines slicing a horizon across frescoed plaster walls, bisecting into water-warped obscurity/godly immortality

Michaelango’s last surviving, Doni Tondo, painting his sexuality across its wood

Cast later then into the servitude of Pope Julius II to craft one of the finest tourist attractions of all time – and a sculptor cast nearly sightless in the heat and dark of another’s high-flighted aspirations


All these stories painted here and

I wish I could take back time

Devour the words squandered on textbook pages

In high school classrooms

Pop-quizing our ways through,

Eyes closed to the passion, the heart

Ambition, deceit and scandal


As with all things, both mother and son are my history

High school learning is my history

Italy's a decade past


But the stories will leave marks ever after


-       C. R. Cohen


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