It was a summer
somewhere where
the dry grass
in the slight
not cooling breeze
still whispers in
fluid demotic Latin
and the vulgar
gossip of grasshoppers
peppers the pale
baking yellow fields
under brickoven sunday

so we stayed
in water in the
pool in the
repurposed villa
in the shade
of old olives
sipping the golden
glinting wine
from sweating crystal
all the day long

but one evening
out of nowhere
just at sunset
we get to
hear the bell
calling from atop
the ragged rock
cragged ocher hill

we climbed then
the snaking steep
ancient stone path
sometimes with steps
up to the
bone white church
crumpled wall ruin
and by the time
eating air in
hamhock hunks
we got there
its inside behind
the missing doors
was tomb dark
and silent, no
mass or choir
of faithful vespers

we hurried back
down in sweat
to not miss
dinner’s first plate
and met a
man walking a fat
rheumy eyed dog

who could speak
our own language
and asked why
we were there
and we told
him about how
the bell tolled
and he laughed
and then said
the bell had been
stolen by Napoleon
2 centuries ago


Mr. Shepley is a writer who lives and works, still, in Sacramento, CA.