Showing His Monster

Lazarus Colloredo of Genoa
had a conjoined twin,
Monstrum novissimum,
a human Janus
hidden under his cloak,
whose torso, head and left leg
dangled from the belly

of the mobile Lazarus.
The sins of the mother,
seventeenth century belief—
parasitic hydrocephalic, flesh
and blood doppelgänger.
The twin never opened his eyes,
or closed his drooling halitosis.

Lazarus married, had children.
By all accounts, his wife
was happy, learned to love him.
Audiences paid to see and pinch
the twin, Joannes Baptista,
to hear him peep.
Showing made them rich.

They visited Paris,
the court of Charles the First.
In a bar, Lazarus killed
a teasing man, was reprieved
to save his innocent brother,
the echo, the contained
monster-twin of every man.


Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Water, 1566, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria (detail). Wikimedia Commons