A Syn via Flickr

Death’s Door; Or, European Cinema

Ignore the clavicle knocker
and the articulated backbone handle.
The mortice long ago splintered the post.
Just nudge it with your shoulder
and you’re through.
Down cobbled streets—
atwist past bookshops
crowded with old prophecies,
and a maskmaker’s window
screened with personae,
and a glassblower’s blue flame
distantly flickering in his window’s black depth—
all the way to the café bar.
Stand and drink your cappuccino
from a mottled brown skull saucer.
Get all excited and trip over the cobbles
in your long coat,
scarf afloat on the breeze,
as you meet the girls’ coy eyes.
In the old cinema with the putti
on its tobacco-stained cielo,
calm your nerves with wine,
and at the last reel cry.


John Pistelli was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he teaches literature and creative writing. His fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Rain Taxi, New Walk, The Millions, Revolver, The Squawk Back, Winter Tangerine Review, Atomic, The Stockholm Review, and others. His novella The Ecstasy of Michaela was published by Valhalla Press in 2012. Find out more at