The violin was laid to rest
in the violin-shaped grave
of its velutinous case.
The violin is worth
the cost of a college education
in United States Dollars.
There are mourners—mostly retired
Italian actors hired to cry on cue.
The violin, among other instruments,
must ask permission to speak.
Is the violin worth so many
United States Dollars
because it was played by Mussolini?
The violin, when cradled in the arms,
ebony against an Aryan shoulder,
chiseled marmoreal chin cupped in the chinrest,
the F-holes like two seahorses osculating undersea,
is the size of an orphan, a rifle, a pile of clothes.
Or is the violin worth so many United States Dollars
because it is a violin and violins are expensive?
If the violin could speak, the neck’s scroll
unfurled, would it speak Italian or Greek?
But the violin is stringless and the luthier is dead,
the violinist is dead and the strings are dead.
The violin is worth so many United States Dollars
because it is a violin played by a lamppost.
String it up, as a fascist violinist once was.
Amos Jasper Wright IV is native to the dirt of Birmingham, Alabama, but has called Alabama, Massachusetts, and Louisiana home. He holds a master’s degree in English and creative writing from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and a master’s degree in urban planning from Tufts University. He lives and works in New Orleans.