Carmine Di Biase


To feel, behind these crimson hands, my heart

grow cold! Oh make me cold and with this knife

stop up the passageway to hot remorse.

How easy it should be, I thought, to kill

the king and then, as you would say, raze out

our grief, the written troubles of the brain.

But how that face was etched upon my brain!

That father’s face, the emblem of the heart

you pierced! And his thick gore—how it came out

red till red congealed to black! Your wet knife,

with that grim paint, drew our fate true. That kill

became for us the picture of remorse.

Consider it not so deeply! Remorse,

I said, would be the ruin of a brain

that should instead be crowned with gold. No. Kill

the memory of your deed! Wade in, take heart,

part clean the blood-red ocean with your knife

and let my voice, dear husband, guide you out.

You tried not to think of those you carved out

of our way, but you looked back. Sharp remorse

flew through the ruby mist, a black-winged knife

born of your own poor heat-oppressèd brain

and at it aimed. Knock! Knock! Your knocking heart

jarred this, my glass, and did my courage kill.

Here I saw Macduff, striding forth to kill

the hawk that killed his chickens. I set out

in half-sleep to write and free my caged heart,

but here that painted devil stayed. Remorse,

boiling loud in the cauldron of my brain,

kept him in this glass, gripping tight his knife.

Here too my torment ends. By my own knife

I am untimely ripped. So shall I kill

the picture-making squatter in my brain,

so shall I snuff my own brief candle out.

My dying cry, the sound-shape of remorse,

shakes hard this glass. So cracks my quaking heart.

Hot red will cool to black. Keen knife, ease out,

let spill the colors of your kill. Remorse,

paint now this ground. Still this brain. Chill this heart.


Carmine Di Biase’s chapbook, American Rondeau, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2022, and his poems have appeared in various journals, including Italian Americana, South Florida Poetry Journal, and The Vincent Brothers Review. He also writes about Italian and English literature, often about Shakespeare. His articles and translations appear in academic journals but also, on occasion, in the Times Literary Supplement. He is Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Jacksonville State University in Alabama.