the romeo letters


They arrive by the sackload from the main office on the Via del Pontiere,

Pouring from the bags as if a torrential weeping,

The envelopes a collage of shapes, a multiplicity of pastel hues,

Some addressed with all the formality of a judicial summons,

Others bearing no more than the name of the distaff half

Of the city’s most famous equation.

They tread upon paths long since worn by any number of their predecessors:

Tales of love unrequited, passion misspent, promises untruthful and unmet.

These epistles and their authors seek solace of varying degree and efficacy:

Some seek kernels of actual guidance or blessing,

As if some ancient and inscrutable advice columnist

Had taken up residence in the Basilica di San Zeno,

Others looking to self-heal through the catharsis of the act of writing,

Most content to quietly assert to the universe itself

I am here, I am here, I am here.


Where, then, is the corresponding mountain of missives

For the son of the House of Montague?

Surely, his shade would be as kindred a soul

To those which affairs of the heart have left so disheartened,

(Indeed, more so, as our hero is much more

The schemer and dreamer of the dramatis personae in question.)

For him, though, no truck with the lemon-cheerful Posteitaliane markings

Arrives at an office for secretaries to answer and archive its all-but-holy contents;

More likely, there is some humble cart,

(The wheel bearings frozen up, the canvas mildewed and frayed)

Containing a handful of birthday cards intended for some Renzo or Romano

Miswritten by some absentminded grandmother or great-aunt,

The odd solicitation or final-notice

Which shall go no further for all of eternity.

Despite the hectoring tone of the envelope

Stressing that the material is critically time-sensitive

And intended for the eyes of the addressee only.



(Apropos of nothing, really, although there is this as well as this being the twenty year anniversary of this underappreciated collection.







4 thoughts on “the romeo letters

  1. I have the greatest admiration of your ability to take a well-known character (real or fictitious) and rewrite their story from the modern perspective. This is the beauty of archetypes, and you have a monopoly on how to tell their stories in the most relevant ways.

  2. Those County Wexford zip codes have no zip codes, just County Wexford on the envelope. Maybe a big pile at the town square to be sorted through; talk some gossip, star at Mrs. Mcginnis’s new high heels, but that’s not Verona. Harmon Killibrew was born in Idaho, so was Ron Romanick and the Law brothers too, good enough.

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