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Venetian Masks, a Poem by Russell Willis

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

Waters rise, drowning the square

St. Mark’s afloat, a vessel in danger of floundering

Its clock ringing out a call of distress

Yet, still, a mundane fact of life

Simply marking time

Grandeur muted by futility

Holiness sucked dry by fear as the square is inundated

The majestic lion, a cat not fond of a soggy swim

Around what was the teeming square

Tables and chairs are stacked inside

Robbed of conversation and laughter

Politics and romance

Floating fowl now rule

Where once doves skipped and swooped and

Stole scraps of baguettes and

Terrorized or delighted children by

Chasing or being chased

Behind the square

Demarcation of city and canal slowly dissolves

Masks hanging in shop windows

Display sorrow and hope in the painted frowns or smiles

The eye holes of the sorrowful drop imagined tears

Adding flow to the deluge of fear

The eyes of the hopeful behold St. Mark’s and dream of

Canals agleam, doves above, awaiting permission to land


Ethicist, online education entrepreneur, and pastor Russell Willis emerged as a poet in 2019. Russell grew up in and around Texas, was vocationally scattered throughout the Southwest and Great Plains for many years, and is now settled in Vermont with his wife, Dawn.


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