Michelangelo Paradox

Michelangelo, lying on his back, painting the Creator and His Adam…

they say it isn’t poetry 

if it doesn’t rhyme

I won’t argue or agree

not at all this time

lie Michelangelo

stroke by stroke by stroke

mirroring his mem’ry

onto the chapel’s dome

commission his to fail

his mind doth wander off

‘tween the sky, the present

and deep into his soul

forbidden, in the darkness 

sepulcher by moonlight

he strips away the putrid flesh

exposing His myst’ries

ligaments, bones and muscles

kidney, bladder… heart

did he expose the soul?

as he stroked his Adam’s

flaccid genitals and hand—

was there disappointment

in his own relations

the count, the marchionessa?

amor, perché perdoni

tuo somma cortesia

sie di belté que tolta

a chi gusta e desia…

(love, why do you permit

your highest favor, beauty

to be taken away

from one who enjoys and wants it…)*

poems flowing his love

rhyming flawlessly

but then, he was in Italy

words end in a’s and o’s and i’s and e’s

disappointment in mere mortals?

and who wouldn’t be

debauchery, greed, pride

and more, so much more.


he pleads to his protégé 

“Bring me carmine

this wicked flesh….”

on his back

his mind returns to the task

and what color is the soul?

brilliant lights and brightness

emeralds, golds and pearls

God’s countenance shining?


blacks and ochres or magentas

darkness, shadows, fire

be it Dante’s Hades

a place where you expire?

Deh, quando fie, Signor, quel che s’aspetta

per chi ti crede?  c’ogni troppo indugio

tronca la speme e l’aluma fa mortale.

Che val che tanto lume altrui prometta,

s’anza vien morte, e senza alcun fefugio

ferma per sempre in che stato altri assale?

(Lord, when will come what is awaited by those 

who believe in you? For every excess delay

shortens hope and puts the soul in mortal danger.

What good is your promise of a great light to all,

if death attacks first, and fixes them forever

in the state he finds them in, with no escape?)**

I won’t argue or agree

not at all this time

they say it isn’t poetry 

if it doesn’t rhyme

or is it? 


*Michelangelo poem #146

** Michelangelo poem # 295

The Poetry of Michelangelo: An Annotated Translation

By James M. Saslow 

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