Hadrian set Venus to face the bloody
Coliseum, reinscribing martial Rome with amor,
Which, as the emperor via his temple
Architecturally ordained, is Roma backwards.
The temple where the two goddesses sat back to back
Was built on the site of Nero’s
Golden House and leaden crimes.
The shimmering green goddess,
The alluring one, cast her spell upon the city,
Backed by her sister; the cavalcade of history
Broke over the metropolis—churches and columns
Commingled, promiscuous in baroque subversions,
Bedecking a city no longer of empire but
Of La dolce vita, Fellini’s carnival.
O Venus Felix, your power, your seduction
Still washes over the city in perfumed waves,
Spins desire in elegance and glamour,
From the Spanish Steps to the Pincio, from
Santa Francesca Romana* to Castel Sant’ Angelo.
*The church of Santa Francesca Romana was built on the site of the temple.
[Michael Routery is a writer and poet living in Northern California. He is the author of From the Prow of Myth, and his work can be found in a wide variety of publications, including Beatitude: 50, Datura, and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina devotional anthologies, Written In Wine, Bearing Torches, Unbound, and Out of Arcadia.]