Guillermo Lanza

The First Mistake

         for Consuelo


Holding his hand was the first mistake.

Then we went to dinner—Italian—

a restaurant near his apartment. Then

to a movie—Fatal Attraction. Why

that movie, I still don’t know. But,

at the time, it was fun. Then we kissed

on his bed. After the courtship, the marriage.

Three years of calm. Three years of peace.

Then began his insults—like spears

from an army attacking. A few at first then

more and more until I responded in kind.

Then the beatings, the throwing—he threw

all kinds of things—dishes, lamps,

the dog’s bowl and bone. Then he broke

the door. And, all the time, the screaming.

Him at me. Me at him. And, now, he’s

finally gone. Hallelujah! I cry.

Hallelujah! into my empty hands.

To Marcia Hall
(Temple University)

Let me remind you who I am. It’s been many years.


After I wrote a paper for class on Pontormo’s Deposition

evoking the grief of the man and the woman

who lift Christ down from the Cross, of Mary, Mother of God

and of the artist himself by analyzing color, shape, space, value and line

you praised it highly. “Professional,” you said. “Insightful.” “Elegant writing.”

When you read my thesis on Titian—his Venus de Urbino

you offered to help with a Ph.D., find me a job as critic,

introduce me to your colleagues. Do you remember?


Well here I am at Woodlands on a fifteen minute break

from digging graves, blowing leaves, laying sod.

At times a gentle rain falls like mercy on the graves

and shakes me alive with beauty. Remember or not, Doc,

thanks for the Art, for your smiles and your praise—

they dropped, it seemed, from heaven like the rain.


Guillermo Lanza, prior to the pandemic, could be found wandering around South and Central America. He is now in Bogota, Colombia for the duration. His work has appeared in Chicago Quarterly Review, Nine Cloud Journal and Potomac Review.