Nightriders Il Duce’s Villa In the rearview mirror of a pickup turning a corner peaked heads crowd around a burning cross. Mussolini took his mistresses there, where everything’s built to outlast a plunder of secret clocks, & now newlyweds rent his bed for luck. Silence illuminates flesh & myth till they’re one song of blood bloating the crescent till branches sag. The mirror glimpses one of the four horsemen, & he’s the ugliest angel ever caught in a dogwood. But one would think this ritual sours the sweetest love apples as rosewater turns to vinegar & all doubt is left black & blue. I can still see those Africans selling knock-off sunglasses & watches for upright middlemen hidden in the everyday light. In a square people throw rocks at two ghosts hanging upside down. Fano is now a half hour away, & the engineer grips his brake. Every tree here is a magician. There’s a country in the young women & men at tall windows set in stone, but maybe their bodies try too hard to answer D’Annunzio’s lore of dead shepherds. As the train speeds into a tyranny of frescoes, into breathless depth & coloration of stoicism, the blanched villa in my head. Newlyweds tangled in sweaty linen dream of egrets clouding Ethiopia’s brown Coptic hills. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE In a deep vista of scrub oak a hoot owl names the lost one, & he becomes the never-heard-of. 59 The fleshy scent of magnolia rekindles the years, & a single night cannibalizes a century of blooms.