Pompeii Graffiti

Preserved by ash, perfect as when
it was carved or painted onto walls.

Almost poetry, lines left by lonely
people baked into clay statues.

“Secundus says hello to his Prima, wherever
she is. I ask, my mistress, that you love me.”

“If anyone does not believe in Venus,
they should gaze upon my girlfriend”

Some philosophy: “A small problem
grows large if you ignore it.”

“Lovers, like bees, live a honeyed life”
“Once you are dead, you are nothing.”

But mostly, it’s what you would expect
from anyone today.

“Staphylus was here with Quieta.”
“Marcus loves Spendusa”

“Restituta, take off your tunic,
please, and show us your hairy privates”

“Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up.
Now it penetrates men’s behinds.”

“O walls, you have held up so much
tedious graffiti that I am amazed

that you have not already collapsed in ruin.”
But they haven’t, they haven’t.


24 Responses to “Pompeii Graffiti”

  1. brian says:

    ha. the thought that graffiti is eternal gives hope to many a bridge under poet….i love graffiti personally and you played well on it…did you see the spider they unearthed from there a month back?

  2. Gay Cannon says:

    When I finished reading this, I felt as I do when I walk through an old graveyard. The idea that reaching back in time, people felt, lived, hoped, and love like we do. There’s something tragic and haunting about it. Beautiful work, here. I really loved it. Gay

  3. Joe Hesch says:

    Great discovery of information, great presentation to the reader. I loved this, Valerie.

  4. ayala says:

    “Lines left by lonely people baked into clay statues” I love this line -nicely done! 🙂

  5. Pretty damn funny. And smart. Two of my favorite adjectives to combine!

  6. Imagine how much harder it was to be a graffiti writer before the paint spray can was invented, when one would have to carve words into stone. It would last a lot longer that way though… it takes time to make time.

  7. fireblossom says:

    “If anyone does not believe in Venus,
    they should gaze upon my girlfriend”

    somebody’s in lurv! and, what woman wouldn’t like to be thought of like that?

    the hairy stuff, um, not so much. and, i can’t find a single tear to weep, dude!

    i like the ending. sometimes it seems the sheer weight of inanity would cause some sort of black hole, but it never does. still, i’m glad that although we are all of us in the gutter, some of us are looking at the stars. 😉

  8. Mama Zen says:

    This is hilarious and poignant all at the same time. Excellent!

  9. Wow…Valerie, as I read this piece, I thought of the trip that I took to Pompeii years ago. You put some of my thoughts about that place into words. It is the fact that it was a regular city with ordinary people (like me) that made it so compelling and the human tragedy so real for me.

  10. Valerie says:

    Thanks for the comments, all. Brian, I didn’t hear about the spider, what happened? Eric, I think some of the graffiti was painted on and some carved… sort of like high school bathrooms today, I guess, with keys and markers instead of simpler tools.

    Phoenix, I went to Pompeii many years ago and the same thing struck me. In a lot of ways, people are still people even a couple thousand years later.

  11. claudia says:

    ha …isn’t it awesome how each of these carvings in the walls tells a story and gives us a glimpse into the people’s lives back then…uncensored and straight from the heart..

  12. brian miller says:

    oh goodness its been so long i cant remember the spider….ha…will have to google that…i do remember this one but was a fun revisit….the almost poetic lines….i feel you there….there is def a bit of the artist in them…smiles.

  13. Bjorn says:

    Wonderful expose of Pompeji graffiti and we are still humans aren’t we.

    Yes sitting reading the toilet walls are a lot like this.

  14. Ha, we don’t change much over the years. A great piece, glad you unearthed it for the prompt.

  15. Anna :o] says:

    Graffiti has the power to glimpse into the past – how wonderful that we have not changed that much.

    Thanks for the journey through Pompeii Valerie.

    Anna :o]

  16. shanyn says:

    Love this! So far away in time and yet not so far from us at all! Great stuff.

  17. this is a great poem…love the past brought to the present…
    this line is amazing
    Almost poetry, lines left by lonely
    people baked into clay statues.
    thank you

  18. kkkkaty says:

    Great take on the prompt… and clever….Restituta and all….picturing hearts with arrows drawn through them and initials or “John loves Mary”…;)

  19. Oh if these walls could talk hua!

    Nicely done!

  20. I like this. Goes to show how little we’ve really changed over time!

  21. lucychili says:

    some themes are eternal =)

  22. Valerie–I love this. Shows we have not changed much. Sad, too.

  23. deb says:

    this made me laff out loud several times….how delightful! Can you imangine a rogue Roman rousabout trying to chisel out a message of disobedience over some Council declaration in the dead of the night with a chisel and hammer and lantern??? More dangerous than the gladiator games…

    Those stupid patricans…why so Serious???

    Thanks for this ….i loved it…

  24. Kim Nelson says:

    Indeed they have not. You have taken a very different perspective for your response to Anna’s prompt, and I quite appreciate your creativity as well as the history imparted. A good change of pace.


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