Tanzaku: Seven Snapshots in Italy

by Garrett Hongo

Garrett Hongo

Orvieto to Firenze

Carousels and their gaudy flickers of light,
candy-skinned ponies,
the circumference of the world aswirl…

From the start you struck poses, voguing,
lifting your arm, torso twisted, contraposto,
an aerialist, barely earthbound…


A dandelion big as your face, radiant white starburst,
puffball of Aeoleus and putti…. Cheeks full of wind like Diz,

you blow and, from the stem in your hand, stars stream,
each a universe, kind of Mnemosyne, parachutes of promise…

San Zaccaria

You wear a pea-green GoreTex jacket over Gap Kids cottons,
your feet in Mary Janes, and strike a kabuki pose,
one leg outstretched, the other bent at the knee,

and I recognize it’s a mi-é from Sukeroku, your umbrella a peony
blooming over your shoulder as though the Venetian rain
were just layered on a cobblestone street in Osaka.


Four years old, you climbed 3,000 stairs…
the look down from the rim of the bell of the apse…
the look up through all the winding murk…

until that burst of sunlight and wind
opened to the roofs of the city laid out
like 10,000 scales on a terra-cotta fish.

The Bridge of Sighs

You loved the tale of Casanova diving from the bridge in escape,
a gondola awaiting him, its black prow coursing through the lacquer of night,

your smile while crossing the narrow hall, the grin of a goblin,
eyes lit by the brief moon of my camera’s flash.

Birthday in Bassano

The glee, fork poised over a plate of squid-ink pasta…

Le Giubbe Rosse

Near recumbent on your side, you lounged in the linen seat,
your face becalmed, a Noh mask agaze at the Everlasting.

Last updated September 09, 2022