Whistler’s Venice



Baruch November’s recent full-length book of poems is entitled Bar Mitzvah Dreams. His earlier collection of poems entitled Dry Nectars of Plenty co-won BigCityLit’s chapbook contest. His poems and short fiction have been featured in Paterson Literary Review, Lumina, New Myths, The Forward, and Jewish Journal. 


“This poem has been many years in the making in order to find the power

of Venice. I started it in graduate school, 20 years ago, when I took

an elective in art history and came across this picture. I have been

saving it for something special, and I have edited it here and there.

In fact, I took the liberty to add stars that Whistler does not seem

to have in his painting. Thus, I’d have to say, despite the title, it

is a poem not only about Whistler’s Venice but mine, too.”


Whistler’s Venice


-After Nocturne in Blue and Silver: The Lagoon, Venice, 1879


City of water 

and more water, 

steeped with demise. 

The gondolier’s garden 

of Eden, where at night 

they never fall

into slumber, 

but stretch out

like water bugs 

on the lagoons. 


Deep indigo night 

covers with stars 

to save them 

from getting lost 

or dropping

their change 

without wishes

to the water’s