The first Valentine’s day
was Valentine’s last --
his head bid on by an apothecary.
A cut-rate martyr.
The last thing in his head (save the blade)
close, smoky, ringing with soldiers’ serenades to others’ wives
while in a darkened corner
he brooded over a wine-stained tabletop
carved with pairs of small crosses: Valentine’s
illegal young marrieds,
contra legem imperatoris.
He’s under the deepest coldest
dirt in Rome. On that spot, now, a couple stands,
kissing each other breathless,
waiting and forgetting
for the light to change -- hot blood and