I came to Geneva

by the bullet train
up from church kero lamps”
it must have been the bullet train.
I rolled in on a Sunday
to that jeweled circling city
and everything was closed
in the old-fashioned way.
In the city of Palais
and moored Secretariat

I arrived in spring when
the Ferraris came out
but John Calvin, unforgiver,
in your Taliban hat
you pervade bare St. Peter’s
in la France protestante,
refuge of the Huguenots,
Courtauld, Pierrepoint, Haszard,
Boers Joubert and Marais
Brunel’s young Isambard
and their black segmented lord
Rohan, curled on his tomb lid:
roi ne puis, sujet ne daigne
that Perfect Captain said.

Calvin, padlock of the Sabbath,
your followers protect you:
predestination wasn’t yours, they claim,
nor were the Elect you,
but: when you were God
sermons went on all day
without numen or presence.

Children were denied play.

I loved your moral snobbery
but the spirits you relied on,
turned atheist long ago.
Come to Italy, messer John.

( Roi ne puis, sujet ne daigne ”“I can’t be king, I scorn to be a subject,” family motto of the Dukes de Rohan)