Your Momma Says Omnia Vincit Amor

January 17, 2008 at 1:57 am 2 comments

David Kirby

Listen (to Kirby read)

Running down the Via degil Annibaldi
I hear Aretha say
my momma said leave you alone
and as I hurry up the steps
of the church of San Pietro in Vincoli
I hear her say my daddy said come on home
and as I turn to go down the right aisle
she says my doctor said take it easy
and then I stop right in front
of Michelangelo’s
oh but your loving is too much strong
for these chain chain chains
which were used to bind St. Peter in Palestine
and are themselves preserved under glass
in the church. Moses is angry;
he’s just seen the Israelites
dancing around the Golden Calf
and now he twists his beard with his right hand
and shifts his weight to the ball of his left foot
so he can jump up and smash the stone tablets
with the Ten Commandments on them.

I’d like to be that angry just once —
or, like Berini’s St. Teresa,
to pass out from pleasure! I think of Bo Diddley
as I scurry down the Via XX Settembre
and up the steps of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria
with its great Baroque sculpture
in which the angel smiles at the saint
as sweetly as a child would, yet his copper arrow
is aimed between her legs;
God might as well have told Teresa
he walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire,
got a cobra snake for a necktie
and a house by the roadside made out of rattlesnake hide
because, really, the only question is,
Who do you love?

– From Big-Leg Music, 1995

Reading Kirby is like doing multiple things at the same time – reading a witty poem, refreshing your memory of or learning about spectacular art or literature, listening to your iPod and free associating while you are at it. Doing all this in one poem seems hard, but making it all seem effortless is what makes Kirby amazing.

This poem isn’t really a favorite. But it is the one reading he features on his website, so have fun. Rest assured, there will be a lot more of his poetry featuring here soon.


[1] David Kirby’s website.

[2] Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools ( YouTube)

[3] Bo Diddley’s Who do you love?(YouTube)



Entry filed under: Black Mamba, David Kirby, English.

The Warm Rain The Bedroom

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sudha  |  January 17, 2008 at 4:13 am

    That’s just pure genius. This is an awesome find, thanks a bunch!

  • 2. Nopsynon  |  August 2, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Thank you


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