Hunchbacks give hunchback rides
round la fontana dei matti
as round the cloisters st francis goes batty
talking to birds of the feathered variety.
You can easily vanish off the face of the earth
where you’re lucky to be born with your date of birth;
godfearers in umbria in unforeseen trouble
get gobbled up by earthquake rubble.
Gargoyles at the churchside
come a poor second in the village’s annual gurning contest
to your neighbours, gap-toothed and goyaesque,
pulling faces that knock spots off the rest.
From their hovel next door you hear one of them sneeze
as rats race round forcing the working population to its knees;
the whole continent in sepia, and a plague painting each town red
you hang on to your dear ones, and bring out your dead.