In this photograph Mussolini
poses in a courtyard, wearing
a ridiculous hat, heels clipped together,
his right arm in a forty-five degree salute.
Several pounds of medals droop
from his chest. His mistress Clara
is perhaps at home, colluding
with her reputation for consuming
chocolates in bed.
Giovanni Buitoni and Luisa
Spagnoli smile for the camera,
offer no clues if confusion
trespasses on their thoughts:
what welcome, or unwholesome
political blessing they received
in exchange for their Baci, chocolate kisses,
almond-tipped nipples invented
to convey secret love notes to one another.
White-clothed chocolatiers stand
in a thick palisade behind them.
One wonders if they too felt honored,
or muttered words of insurrection
as they spat into molten vats.
Mussolini was shot
more than twenty years
later, dangling by his feet
beside Clara in the Piazza
Loreto, Milan, like carcasses
in a butchers window—
El Duce, outlived, outloved