Pompeii as Text

18 Hours

I thought I knew pain.

When it comes it is all consuming,

overwhelms one’s senses.

Takes control.

Ones heart grows heavy.

I thought I knew pain, until Pompeii.

The people of Pompeii knew more pain than I will know in a lifetime.

The clay figures above give off an aura of indescribable loss.

I will never forget.

These figures seem like parent and child.

Their whole world was up in flames in a matter of 18 hours.

Imagine that.

The day before life was as usual.

18 hours later their souls reached their destinations.

I wonder what they were doing 18 hours earlier.

Were they cooking,walking home, or visiting neighbors?

I like to think they were dancing under the moonlight,

Blissfully unaware that it was their last night on this earth.

I also wonder how they ended up there.

Why didn’t they leave when they had the chance?

Maybe they were trying to flee, but knew it was too late.

They decided to spend their last moments in each other’s embrace.

Human touch is the remedy for most pain.

Perhaps they thought the same.

Parents should never have to watch their child take their last breath.

That’s not the way life is set up.

It is unnatural.

I cannot fathom the pain the parent was feeling knowing

there was nothing left.

Now that I have seen the face of true pain,

I pray that I never get the opportunity to meet it myself.

18 hours was all it took.



Destruction by Ashley Rodriguez of FIU at Roma, Italia.

 The most beautiful things are found in destruction. 
Destruction unearths the humanity hidden beneath the surface. 
Through the cracks one can see what once was.
In the colosseum I see violence, injustice, and pain. 
I see men fighting for the opportunity to live. 
I see slaves praying to Gods they don’t believe in. 
I see innocents being made savages. 
Humanity in its rawest form. 
I also see joy, laughter and love.
I see the crowds full of glee when a life is lost. 
I see laughs being shared amongst friends. 
I see a widow sob when her love takes his last breath. 
These cracks give us insight into the truth about you and I. 
Allows us to see what has stood the test of time. 
Humanity has shown its ugly face time and time again. 
We have not made much progress. 
I turn on the TV. 
I see the highlights of a boxing match. 
I see bulls being made savages by humans. 
I see a mother sob as she is separated from her child at an immigration camp. 
Again I see violence, injustice, and pain. 
Human nature is not always what it seems to be. 
It is often just too painful to realize. 
Millions travel to visit this wonder of the world. 
They see an architectural marvel. 
They see a community center. 
Sure, they also see the destruction. 
They see the building under construction and the caution tape. 
One must look with a critical eye to truly see through the cracks.

Tivoli as Text


Green by Ashley Rodriguez of FIU at Tivoli, Italia.


As far as the eye can see

There is no end, no limit

To what could and could not

Be done.

The landscape at Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli

Humbles even the most ostentatious.

There is so much more than

One’s own existence.

We often assume our existence is the center of the universe.

The truth is that our existence is solely the center of OUR universe.   

There is no end in sight, just


Our minds wander to answer the burning question,

What awaits at the end of the landscape?

Perhaps this wandering imagination

Allowed the Romans to be free.

Free to embrace other cultures.

Free to love who you love.

You see Romans were not concerned

With conforming to sexual and societal norms

Romans were interested in ethereal pleasure

If we were more like the Romans in this way

Perhaps we would be substantially more content

With our lives.

Perhaps love would indeed win.

I imagine Hadrian stood where I stood,

possibly with his wife.

And dreamed a great dream

A dream where he had never fallen

Into the Nile river that day and that his great

Love story was still alive.

A dream where he could look

Into his lovers eyes one last time

and admire the way the green reflects

In them.

A dream where at the end of all of the green

Stood the great love of his life, Antinous

With a beating heart and life in his eyes.