Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Erri De Luca

“Still now in the nights when I lie in the open I feel the weight of the air in the breath and the acupuncture of the stars on the skin.”

This is, roughly translated by myself, from "The fishes don't close their eyes" the latest book by Erri De Luca, an Italian author from Naples. It's an absolutely powerful, vibrating memoir set in and near Naples and the sea. Words spark raw and profound in an astounding poetic prose. It's the second book I am reading in Italian in years, the first was always by the same author and it was a short story set on a scree in the Dolomiti mountains: "The weight of the butterfly".

I think that some work by Erri De Luca is translated in English.

Monday, December 12, 2011


It’s the cat waking you up in the dead of night,
rummaging in the yard among the cardboard boxes,
tearing up the garbage bags,
sliding “vibrato” along the bars of the basement.
After a jolt of fear you feel
it’s good having been scared
by the neatness of things in the dark,
the sound of their frank squareness,
in days of terribly bright and blank city stares;
all you need now is just this coming across
with the rootedness of shapes.
At dawn you kiss your wife, get up,
for a moment look at her sleeping
and glimpse a corner of the sheet she is holding on to,
a token of the shore you have reached
in the lock of her arms.

In memory of C. One year after.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Mauve meadow at dusk. Winter silence.
And, around, the mountains’ audience.

You step up from the lower road
onto dry grass, just an instant of a climb

and passing between two trees you enter
the stage, the wing of openness.

Your dog barks and waits. Barks and stares.
You throw the stick that draws

an arc in the dark. At once
paws rush and shuffle in a line of frenzy

that underlines the quiet, those seconds
of a few steps that embrace


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


It was strange and nice
to find at once the place I needed,
a small room in a niche in a stone wall
by walled tombs and on gravel paths
graves with their sea of headstones.
I went in, there was a heater
and a young woman at a computer
asking me at once to close the door.
I told her about the small lamp, switched off,
by my grandmother, she checked,
the screen beeped, payments were ok,
she would see to it.
I thanked and left closing carefully the door.
Small place, a small settled thing
and I felt accomplished. I had already
brought my flowers, lilies this time
and also a red rose.

Once more while leaving
I sensed the need of settled spaces,
small rooms to recognise and the hedges
of things to trim, a few beeps and
a few lines with our names,
on this shore by the enveloping sea.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Eliot again.

I must write a poem entitled "The Untold". I know I must. It's a poem that is going to be for me so much as hard as important. In the roots of it I am impressed by a recurring memory of Eliot again, from the Hollow Men, these lines I do not yet know whether to use as an introductory quotation or not:

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

I have never wanted to enquire, reading critics, to what Shadow exactly Eliot can allude to. And I, in a way, do not want to be sure myself about this Shadow. I always felt anyway the power of these lines, the Shadow signalling maybe what man can never foresee about the strength of the "In-Between", life or God or whatever that is always there and can intervene when we are unaware...
Or too aware.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I am reading and commenting The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock. A work gaining momentum with subtlety and tragedy. One cannot but identify with The Great Loser and his increasing sense of failure, paradoxically it seems almost a success, or am I exaggerating?

Probably the most powerful and dramatic image is:

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

That celebrates, putting together, desperation, strength, vastness, loneliness, motion and silence.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


These words of doubt in the mind
and silence, looking
out of the train window
at the marshland mantled
in familiar, grey blankness,
a silhouetted world
the heart mimics
in self-defence.

Barges in the shallows,
in the still swarm of dots,
stuck in their outlines
of seaweeds and slime;
a seagull’s slowly beating wings
soon swallowed by the sky,
you hear a cackling call
and rest for an instant in its wake
and think –in this way
I would like to pass, in a silence
broken and reaffirmed,
I would like to last
for a full long howl
with nothing to insert.

Not these words, threads
that spill over on the silvery damp
and linger undone, in their maze,
having to start all over again,
not these words
when your turn comes,
these lines leaving lines
not these words
consumed in the curls
of their own utterance,

but just this sky-swarm in silence
and, in the strength of blindness,
a cry that doesn’t need a why,
like out of the womb’s.

This poem appeared in "Pushing Out The Boat", Issue 10 ( North-East Scotland's Magazine of New Writing).
I think it is my most recent "fog-born" poem... in these days the fog is back in Venice and in the flat countryside nearby giving that full typical sense of autumn-winter, that enveloping feeling of closeness, despite the damp and cold, and light from shops and windows filtered in an almost blindness, a sort of "braille" of the soul.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

I have chosen this with other two of his poems thinking about some lessons I would like to prepare on him for school.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


A student of mine went to a Dylan's concert yesterday in Padua,
he is still doing concerts at seventy and she the same age I was
when I heard him first, forty years ago.

In the meantime it now seems our Prime Minister is leaving at last,
a sense of outrage for his existence as a politician has never left
some of us, for twenty years or so.

Things persist but, thank God, also finish, all in time’s show.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


The sea after the storm, a neat, roughed up skin,
that is exactly what your own skin now wishes and gets,
goose-bumps glittering with foam and sunlight
haze-free in the clashing roar, the wave-crests charging upon the shore,
the wilderness’ marrow expanding in the morning.

After bathing in the sizzling frenzy
you sit and shiver and sense the simplicity
of Buddha’s all-is-an-illusion flash,
he must have never left what you are now touching for a moment

the quickness, the quicksilver sweeping strength of things,
he must have felt the utter joy
of sitting still while being swept away

as he had always been, in the park under the banyan tree,
far from the storm, the river flat in the heat.

This poem was published by Nimrod ( The Muse of Attachment) Tulsa, U.S., in 2005.
After six years I have just submitted again to this magazine.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I am saying to myself
-be slow and taste
the autumn path, the leaves
orange and yellow, the shot
of their quivering glow.

On the rise walking
is hard, you hear the rhythm
of your breath’s labours
and smell the bonfire
of the dregs of the season.

But I’m never slow enough,
never stop enough
by the leaves’ countenance
that’s behind and beyond skin,
I can just briefly glimpse their sea
that distracts into concentration.

November is fast
like the after dinner sleep,
it slips quietly away
in a carpet of orange leaves
decomposing into the turf,
our softest burial.

No, I’m never slow enough
except in memory:
in fog waves the turf of a ditch
is close and bright, and slightly trembles
and these words are ants in the mulch
dragging embers.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The light-yellow glow on wings
like rustling parchment filled
with lamplight over the kitchen table,
fallen like a breezy, distracted thought,
the same as a week ago,
a brushing recurrence.
On the tablecloth, on mother’s old
knuckled hands, in a nook
in between exposed veins.
She welcomes and cuddles it with the same
singsong voice she always has
when she cuddles the dog, when she feels
her muzzle gently landing on her knee.
The moth comes when dinner tales
swing around by the window with the trees’ crowd,
carried far out and hovering close
with a thin flutter of wings dropping
under focus –here, the same,
same as a returning gaze
in a swinging gust, down
into the same circle of hands
and pool of light, on this table.
This tiny landing on skin.
Tiny perseverance of the here-and-now.

How much do we cherish perseverance?

Monday, October 24, 2011

PROOF, by Brendan Kennelly

I would like all things to be free of me,
Never to murder the days with presupposition,
Never to feel they suffer the imposition
Of having to be this or that. How easy
It is to maim the moment
With expectation, to force it to define
Itself. Beyond all that I am, the sun
Scatters its light as though by accident.

The fox eats its own leg in the trap
To go free. As it limps through the grass
The earth itself appears to bleed.
When the morning light comes up
Who knows what suffering midnight was?
Proof is what I do not need.

Brendan Kennelly is an Irish poet and playwright who wrote a collection which became a bestseller in the early nineties in Ireland: "The Book of Judas", followed by another "Poetry My Arse", a fundamental flashing irony has characterised his work since then. He is a very popular character in Ireland, he taught and maybe still teaches in the Trinity College, Dublin.
The poem "Proof" belongs to an earlier period and I was caught by it when I first went to Ireland and bought an anthology of contemporary Irish poetry. I would read and comment on end "Proof".

Saturday, October 15, 2011


The sea, a bit rough.
Just back on the rock you sit in the wind.
Dripping, excited, as if drunk.
And still short of breath.
Slapped and tossed, eyes burning,
you have found your way through.
You have known that since a child:
the brink is quick, it’s easy
to be erased.
Passed the test? Hardly,
but you are out. And alive, now,
reborn somehow.

Friday, October 14, 2011


You sense their smiles when they meet
early in the morning, the same place
in front of your house, rucksacks full of books
heavy on their backs.
Puffs of breath lingering
in the air waving with violet.
You hear their steps first, then you see them
gathering in a circle. They shiver
and get busy at once, eager
with one another, with their
simple appearing, stamping their feet
on a rectangular grey Venetian stone
as if they said -here we are, that’s
the start, that’s our trampoline-.
The air crowding with colours.
Children, first rites.

A last one joins the circle now,
steps in glad, comes to a halt
stamping his feet on the stone, the same stone
with a step that says –it suits me.
The others cheer and pat him on the shoulder
saying -well, let's go.

And you? You can’t but glance, maybe smile,
and linger in your adult silence
and let yourself
be caught by the simple desire
to start all over again
and be one them, starting on a stone
in that continent that is a child’s morning,
being patted on the shoulder and then walking,
cheering and joking, red cheeks
chattering with the universe,
eager steps in the marrow-bone.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A poem by Carol Rumens

I was very happy when I read Carol Rumens’ prompt positive answer to an email of mine in which I had asked her to allow me to put in my blog one her poems from her recent collection “Blind Spots” ( Seren Books 2008 ).
This poem touches an aspect of our being I have strongly perceived in my life: the unfathomable level of what some fundamental “things” actually mean. I felt that David King has considered a same similar theme in his poem “Before You First Had Sex” which appeared in his blog a few days ago.
But, theme apart, I find some of the lines in Carol Rumens’ poem powerfully shocking and in tune with what I have always felt about human nature. I would also like to underline how the relentless rhyme produced by the sounds of “o” and “a” in all the stanzas gives this work a sublime strength.

On Being ( Sometimes ) Vertical and Verbal

What on earth is it that explains our gait?
Even in coupled poise we walk half-cock
And crabbed with verbs: “regret”, “anticipate”.

That leaves explain how cups originate,
And sunlight on a swirl of crags, the clock,
Is clear, but what on earth explains our gait?

Our soles plod on. Meanwhile, our palms vibrate
With cunning voices, digits, tones, caps lock,
The lexis of young verbs: “text”, network”, date”.

Did brains refine our paws, or hands add freight
To brains? Do our pained feet insist we talk,
Or is it language that explains our gait?

And still we genuflect, or fall prostrate
To gods we’ve carved ourselves from logs or rock:
Why do we serve, who also say “check mate?”

Hands are our learning outcomes, but too late.
Old hands make gardens grow. Little hands walk
At dawn. The want of earth explains our gait,
Our lonesome hands that plead “explain”, “translate”.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Always drizzling,
you felt blessed if it didn’t go beyond that
during our horse holiday ,
the sky keeping silvery bright
and the needle-drops seeming to dry off
in the wind just before reaching your coat.
But that morning at Cavan Garden
heavy real rain seemed the only promise,
swollen dark pewter clouds filled the air
while we were busy getting ready, silent
among saddle-bags, straps, bridles, horse food
and flies in a thick bunch swarming.
Dark air, dark mood, it didn’t seem a good start,
the world through my specs a brittle canvas,
a pointillist blur.
Your horse’s girth seemed shorter than on other mornings,
it couldn’t get closed and the drops
were becoming harder and more steady;
I walked the horse in the rain’s growing roar
then I tried again, no way, you couldn’t get
to that longed for first hole. We were stuck.
A man came to help, he was deaf and dumb
and –well we were in tune, deafened all by the sky noise.
I pointed out the problem, he had
a beam on his face like an honest sun.
He leaned with his forehead on the horse’s flank,
pulled quietly and slowly got to the hole. We could go.
The rain had eased, it was drizzling again.
We said goodbye to him with the palm of our hand
starting to go, his smile receding.
The roar had stopped, silence again was spreading,
now we felt sprinkled, lighter, plunged once more
into the greenness of the green.

Barbara Smith in her latest post of October 5th talks about poetry readings and "poetry abounding" and mentions Lough Derg in Ireland as one of the venues.
I saw Lough Derg on a day in July 1992, it appeared all of a sudden as a marvel -with the monastery on the island- while we were trotting out of a wood during a fifteen day horse riding through County Sligo and County Donegal.
The poem I have enclosed above is about the beginning of another of those days.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


The day was calm, the sea still like a salt marsh.
Everything still, its short perched body still
on the tip of a stone along the dam,
a cluster of still dots around the blue back,
the orange breast and the long beak.
Just before spotting it you had been stopped
by stillness itself, sand and air
in their absolutely settled vast velvet.
One step closer and it flew off
skimming the water-skin, a silent
straight line of fast beating wings.
All sounds were muffled
in this day of low, glowing haze,
so you could say it was in the air
the praised pace of those lines
-At the still point of the turning world…-
with the simple shiver of a truth beyond words.
No wing then answered light to light,
the colours of its body would retain it all.
But you sensed all the same
the mute fullness that makes the world turn,
the heart of stillness where the gaze
ready for marvels just waits.

This poem appeared in "Dream Catcher 18" in 2006 and maybe later I put it once also in this blog. It once more shows Eliot's persisting echoes reaching me but it wants now most of all to "converse" with a powerful "Kingfisher" in David King's latest post.
Actually the poem is also about the only time in my life when I could see a kingfisher on the beach, I had never connected it with the sea. Probably on that particular "still" day it had flown there from behind, from some canal or the lagoon.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Those with stubborn, routine-measured words
can protract the profit of a chilled age,
but they will fade, as rumours fade
being constantly replaced in webs and waves of wires,
what will never pass are these instead,
birdsong and cries of gulls that now last
all through the night, lamplight spurring
their persistence, theirs are the background breaths
and the sediments in our hearts,
and they can become the foreground
if breath makes the heart grow
while the body goes.
The blackbird pierces, crying its blade,
the air’s light glass, the gulls
slash in waves. At dawn when I fade
and maybe surface in another tide
I will first wait for their cries
to deliberate my new premises.

This poem appeared a few years ago in a section of "Poetry Scotland" on line, it shows the ineluctable echoes that Eliot's poetry maintains for me, lines from his poetry started reverberating in my mind at first in Italian in the late sixties before I could read and decently speak in English.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Poetry Live.

Have seen that on the news on tv?
In Athens during the riots
between the police and the demontrators,
clashes, tear gases, stones...
a stray dog running and barking,
the same stray dog they say,
it has become famous, maybe
they have given him a name.
Running and barking while people
were taken by the scruff of their neck
and kicked in the back and arrested.
Fury and drama and that dog in the middle
of all that, tail wagging, maybe
enjoying the mess.

A hint of a still pure earth
that cheers me up more

than the freedom of the press.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


In the breeze you breathe their stare,
travelling ribs of silence in the sunlight,
in their lull you sense the segments
of the faces you have met, defaced now
gently in the glare, clustering in their transit;
you hear willingness in their throats and irises,
their accents absorbed in the streaming on shore,
in the quiet strength lapping the rocks;
their lips will follow you, you’ll sleep in their ripples,
your skin swarming in the sand of the bottom
one with the flowing hush and the blossoming above.

This poem is here for celebrating ( and "talking with") the excellent sea poem Waymarks by Mavis Gulliver published in one of Juliet Wilson's blogs "Bolts of Silk". The atmosphere of Waymarks reminded me of the years in which I wrote "Waves" and many other sea poems or water's edge poems. A great time, I had only to go to the beach for a walk and a poem popped up on the way back home.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


There's a man up there
working on my roof in the blue,
while I am here in the dark, in my armchair,
possessed by the flu.

Monday, September 5, 2011


It’s night at last, all frames almost blurred
and no more hardened by light, no more
pitilessly evident.
I am sitting in the rocking chair in the garden,
all lights switched off, the earth letting
its cooler breath mellow the silence.
Now thoughts can glide and pretend nonchalance,
sliding on the skin of the dark,
I hear cars whooshing on the road behind,
fast swarms, the persistence of the present,
the asphalt so smooth in its familiar grey,
looking always so keen on taking a plunge
to bridge any gap on the way.
I am breathing now the darker dark
of my garden’s tall trees,
shadows like seas,
that tell you “swim and space, swim and pass”,
in the persistence of absence
which darkness makes
just a little bit more bearable.
Let me stay then
enveloped in this dark,
in it I can still endure in my aching
and please let dawn be long, long in the making.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Charlbury, summer 2011.

What remains in the mind
is the spirit of the place,
like the memory of a face.
Made of a myriad
of rustlings, with rhymes,
like in the woodpigeons’ cooing.
How persistent they were
in their up-and-down calls
that seemed to say: “ What
are you looking for ?
It’s this the world.”
And the swollen, advancing
clouds like countenances,
the landscape’s enthusiastic
showing off.
Low and vast pervading sky
and land rising high
in neat outlines.
And the wind, the breath
of persistence,
that made the spiralling seeds
spill on the carpet by the bed
as if something of the living
land’s map
had to overlap.

The countryside a patchwork,
“rolling”, they call it
and what I felt was a hand
following a tune
and laying the land
as if breathing, from its palm.
The land then, but not her,
now she was not there,
she was the absence spacing in me
in the widespread green
like a sky in the wind,
while trees and leaves seemed
to hint at the under-thread
of all that was passing,
yes, nevertheless,
the woodpigeons’ coos like knitting,
in this longing, strewing
riddle of life.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Orbis 156

It arrived today. Found it as it happens on my doorstep like a windfall in the afternoon while going out and facing the tremendous heatwave of this late summer.
My poem "Commuter Digressing" is in it, once more edited by Carole Baldock. "Commuter Digressing" had started getting shape last year in this blog.
My work started appearing in Orbis in 2001.
A constancy of this kind, in difficult times, helps.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Once more a connection with Dave King and his poem on London.
I was there last Monday, I visited The Globe.
Well, the brightness, the whiteness along The Thames by The Embankment.
The swollen clouds in their sky filling the view. Advancing and passing. Merry though slightly menacing.
Announcing and at once erasing rain.
The wind.
The hundreds and hundreds sheets of poems filled by sunbeams constituting The Lion and The Unicorn.
A grey squirrel in St.James Park which seemed almost inclined on chattering.
The wobbling Millenium Bridge struck by sparks of sunlight and hands of running shadows.
The glass on glass on glass on glass in exuberant transparency on the ground floor of The Economist building.
And in a bar a fresh baguette with ham and tomato absorbing the light from the glass window.
While a woman was breastfeeding her child.
A queue of more than five hundred metres of people who were going to visit Westminster Abbey.
The ripples of The Thames, ever present. Like a mind.

The river inside us.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I'll be away from this blog for two weeks, I'll be in England actually much nearer, geographically, to several bloggers I think I've been in contact with...I was thinking about how much internet has diminished geographical distances...

On the other hand I am thinking now about the people I personally met in Venice and who I had previously known via email for a long different after all they were from the image I had of them in my mind out of emails or websites even if I had seen their photos. Hearing their voices, looking at their live countenance and gestures...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's alright ma... and "only"

I found myself all of sudden, answering to an email from a friend asking me how it was going, quoting:

"It's alright ma, it's life and life only..."

The final lines from the song lyrics of "It's alright ma, I'm only bleeding". Too many associations are linked to Dylan's songs of those years...
but this one: maybe, maybe it's a kind of understatement the sort of cool tone with which the "all right ma" is in contrast with "I am only bleeding".

But it's the "only" which constitutes a masterpiece.

I was attracted by an "only" myself several years ago walking on the beach in winter and coming across the umpteenth "only one shoe". Well it's a different, even if not so much I think, "only" but, with the feeling of particular restriction it creates, I remember I had tried my best to express its strength.


A trainer. Just one.
On the sand, without laces,
in the field stormed by gunmen,
in the debris after the blast,
in the mud where they show you
the whole village has left,
on the deck where they passed,
among tins, dirty blankets
and plastic bags.

One only.
You never stop seeing it.
On the desert strand ,
unable to leave the roar.
With all that is lost
it’s the –only- that lasts.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Dear blog friends, the poem I am enclosing to this post is one of the most "difficult" probably I have ever written and also the one which underwent more changes. I am sure it was published in the past, I don't remember where, but it was different, certainly with a very different conclusion. It's part of a series of poems about the notion and feeling of "heaven". I would like, in time, to put the others of the series in this blog.

I am not sure I will ever submit to any journal the present version of this poem, I am afraid it may sound obscure or, as some editor can put it, "dense" which is an adjective I think has got a negative meaning, basically, which it hasn't in the very similar Italian "denso" that only means thick from a materially point of view.
Anyway this poem continues to be one of my dearest. If some of view finds it obscure or whatever, well...even a not encouraging comment will be very well accepted.


Looking for those roses that
-Had the look of flowers that are looked at-
you keep longing
for the sharp wind
that can hone your will
and make your gait spare
cleansing your acts to the bone;
you remember when you could guess,
on horseback,
the dashing intent of a vein in the air,
your legs giving the right pressure
to the horse’s flanks,
your heart and his already beyond the fence;
or the appropriate twinkle in your gaze,
your voice a light, guessing gust
when you called your dog
back to the leash,
you knew before knowing that he would come.
Heaven, a thin dashing line
on a hidden side-road,
where roses ask for a stare to reciprocate
and your will grows
trying to be perfectly lost in the air
in dots of blue, somewhere
towards the horizon
that, you know well, can claim you
just quietly and quickly, in a blink.

Monday, July 25, 2011


There’s a quietness
in their rumbling, over the mountains,
turquoise openings breaking the dark.
The horizon lines resettling at dusk.
An expanse of stares you can hear,
knees of air drawing their routes,
pushing on always one more sinew.
You want them to stay for the night,
their violet grinding will enrich
the pattern of hedges in the field,
their vast muttering will be a blanket
you’ll lie spread out under, trimming
gravel and grass for sleep.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


While the motor boat rattles on
I see them there suddenly taking off
as if shot from the roofs in a gust
away from Venice stone banks
that are rows of houses really
with windows directly over the water expanse.
A small flock fluttering in haste
over the lagoon, towards a horizon
of sandbars and brambles, and the brewing
mainland’s heart.
A small flock and then another,
yes, they are many, but wavering, even vague,
not at all steady as the gulls,
as if they loved being unnoticed
and in that way regularly let pass.
I have never imagined birds like these
taking such a long air plunge,
maybe they have been preparing themselves
all their life for it
and now the moment has come,
the big leap.

Fast beating wings
like soft arrows
in the dawn sky
and, below, ripples on the water.
Stage after stage something of ours
continuously leaves
and stays, a ceaseless
succession of wings
asking for readiness
while brushing the gaze.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


After the swim you are faced
by the clouds in bloom,
a swelling of bright grey
and an arabesque of curls.
Rich –you hear yourself say.
Drying yourself you once more feel
the fulfilment of the sea-salt:
it rises and lashes about
with the wind and whips
the sharpened margins,
it teases you with the jostling
pointed wave crests
and binds you with darting
eel-like laces,
your skin delivered to the horizon
in unending flashes.

You’ll lie down in the sunlight,
in a stinging permanence,
by the waves
and their memories on the stones,
the glittering chinks
and the winding
white carved lines
you’ll finger with closing eyes,
the bright grit
that’s the first and last
layer of what you are
and the granite rocks
that will absorb your breath
when dozing off
you sail just a bit further on
in the heat.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Warm day, light breeze,
not waves passing, just ripples
caressing the surface and the long
billowing gentle swellings
you would like to ride
with the skimming specks of sunlight.
Quietness, hints
of what you may call transcending
but also the roots of your longing,
the spark you never stop craving for
that sails forward and stares.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bones and Beyond

I wrote Dave King I would look for a poem, I was sure I had written, in order to "converse" with his marvellous "Twigbones" in his latest post. ( Oh hurry up Dave's latest post lasts only one day, tomorrow the latest will surely be another, I have rarely seen a blogger more regularly active than him... ) I haven't found the poem I, vaguely unfortunately, had in mind but one which can be considered his "brother", actually "sister" in my geographical area, in Italian "poem-poesia" is female...

Anyway here is the poem.

to Tina

Sunlight is strong now,
it goes straight into the bones,
the planks carved and gnawed by salt
in dazzling furrows of white
and nails whose rust has overlapped
-on the wood faded orange stains.
In front the wrinkled blue of the waves,
their heart-cutting lines.
Here the vast pulse
of all that’s undone streaming by,
the sea swelling in the windy heat,
the glare blinding along the stones,
and your windswept skin, quietly torn,
extinguished to the bone
and the bones themselves crumbling into dust
under the breath of the light’s still swarm.

At noon you are
the crossing shadow of a gull
or a swirl on the water-skin
skimmed by a quick gaze
or a vein of salt winding among the barnacles
gathered up by whales.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


And well, life goes on. For me everything is both the same and completely different.In my Time After.

The circumstances that made me write the poem I am going to enclose here haven't changed one bit. This dull, blind acceptance of rules most of teachers ( sorry but even if I am I can't consider myself part of them) "ineluctably" keep implementing.

Since I found myself talking about this while answering Jim Murdoch in a comment, I feel I can continue in this post.

It's almost a merely descriptive poem and maybe, I am afraid, the end can be considered obscure but it came so strongly and so at once that I have never since touched the work.


On this long corridor
between two rows of desks.
Stiletto heels with their thin
steady hammering,
or sandals, flat,
too easily pretending relax
or squelching rubber soles
so full of road,
in this hazy light from the low
glass walls, a drowsy glare
on the beige floor.
They sit at their desks on the corridor,
their faces change every year
but not their eyes
with veins of scared smiles
in the blank space
from the ceiling to their papers
between a packet of biscuits
and a bottle of mineral water.
And coughs and whispers,
the shifting of infinitesimal rustles.

You walk and sit, you survey.
And give advice, your job,
dispensing certainties.
And you can’t avoid getting caught
in the surging river of comments
of others like you,
the murmurs and silences,
the eddies of sudden small outbursts
with in the middle of it all
the practised surveyor’s smile,
the broad –I know, I know…
time and again we’ve passed
through this.

you never manage to say
if we will ever awake.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I said to one of my favourite students
when her oral exam had finished
and her relief was almost palpable in the air:
“The awful lot is over now, over”.
Sensing in a flash how immediate
the “over” is when we finally get to it,
absolutely an ineluctable end of the track
with no going back.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My favourite spot

While this poem was taking shape in my mind, it was conceived actually as a text message, I fell downhill on the steep path, I rolled head down really, not very far from the place which is the title of the poem. I scratched my knees, wrists, chin and I tasted a mouthful of brown earth while falling with my mouth slightly open for the surprise of finding myself sliding, cruising, so thoroughly on the trecherous gravel. I woke up from the poem's "trance" at once.

Well, only some bruising, nothing more. I was glad when I stood up that it was nothing more serious.

And in a way it was a plunge back into my childhood for the knee-grazing in particular. There was an eternal redness at their centre.

As a child when you fall you have much less, almost nothing, to lose, in all senses.


A flat white stone in the tall grass,
a perfect shape to host my ass.

Sunlight, butterflies, oaks, cypresses,
up on the hill, here, nothing misses.

And maybe, maybe even a little bit of regret
could be ground by the cicadas' loud net.

At my feet the map of the plain,
widespread curlicues with no strain.

Sitting on my favourite spot,
where I could also allow myself

to be not.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Brought back by chance, by the tide, exactly.


It’s high now, almost level with the dam
that could be a raft floating
stung by the glare of the sun.
It’s all vast, gently rising
and falling, lingering, you can’t but sense
an endless waiting even if
there is nothing to wait for.
Now it could be much easier to step in,
you could let yourself do it, sliding slowly,
no splash, no noise and then
you would travel and rest and be
not much different from now, a cluster
of veins and glances in the sun,
speckled endeavours in the waves’ large arcs,
digressing towards the horizon.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Memory Room

I enclose to this post a poem of mine that was published early this year in Harvard Divinity Bulletin. The spirit of the place, in this case the spirit of a room and the memory it contains have always attracted me, and the sounds, around or in the room or connected to the whole house as in the powerful poem in Dave King's latest post.

from Memory Rooms:


In a house on the edges of Venice,
by the lagoon, where the city’s last square stones
hardly covered the mud,
on a pageant of ripples
and the crenellated walls of the Ship’s Arsenal.
The large window faced a kitchen garden,
rows of vegetables in sandbar silence,
my parents’ bed was boundless,
there I was ill, confined,
a sick child swimming in sleep in a sea
of white sheets.
Mornings were ages and I was quietly
swallowed in pillows, embracing them,
riding silences like whales.
On the bedside table a radio announced
temperatures from the airports in a roll
of names linked to their cities, words like beads,
mantras droning on furniture and walls
bathed in the rising kitchen garden light,
my forehead cool at last,
after sweating the night’s coals.

And the day outside, the enduring horizon,
the afternoon body temperature
rising like a tide-
and a pedlar’s voice that rose, soared
in an arc of sky syllables, shaping words
as meaningless to me as luminous
in which distances could be embraced and shone.
I was imagining a cart passing
filled to the brim with clanking tools and gears,
ladles, pans, forks and knives, -ore
silhouetted in the haze
of the lagoon shore.

In that boundless bed by the window,
facing rows of vegetables like a continent’s creases.
The sunlight’s voice outside announcing
its golden goods.
I was ill
and confined in timelessness.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I would like to talk about songs that in the subtlest and strongest, and always very specific personal way, become at one or come to constitute the flavour of a period of time.

I think there have been many in many lives.

In my case, in this very latest harsh and Waste Land period of my life while reading and rereading “White Egrets” by D.Walcott and reading novels I have listened to the intense voice, full of echoes of longing and prairies of Alela Diane from California; in the album covers, in the photos, she looks like a gorgeous Red- Indian-American woman, belonging to that historical mythical past so marvellously depicted in “Little Big Man”. But I discovered on the internet that she should be of Italian origins, since her third name is “Bevitore” “Drinker”. Well, many of us Italians are great bevitori!

Her voice and songs remind me of the poem “The Solitary Reaper” by W:Wordsworth in which he clearly evokes a voice which in his memory lingered and kept lingering in the air becoming at one with the field and the whole landscape.

I’ve always thought music and songs are like that, a subtle all pervading “salt” carrying the essence of moments, days and months. Salinger said somewhere, I think in “Catcher in the Rye” that no matter how difficult a period of time was there is such a peculiar flavour in some memories of it that makes one wish to go back to that time and relive it. Well, I am not sure if I would like to relive these latest months of winter and spring but Salinger was, in my horizon, talking about a sort of powerful nostalgia for life in general which songs like those by A.Diane bring about with their longing echoes.

The song-lyrics are not at all banal as it can easily happen:

Tatted lace frail figure graced
That has since been torn and stained

Still, there are heavy days about us
There are shards of something lost
But there’s white gold in the static
Relentless and charged with magic
There is danger in what we know
But there is good, there is good

I found her three albums: “The Pirate’s Gospel”, “To Be Still” and the latest “Wild Divine” in a record shop in the town where I teach in one of those idle hours in between classes when it is impossible for me to stay at school in the teachers’ room ( a setting of my latest sequence poem I have just finished, nine sections, and can’t wait sending around ) or in the corridors, because of the sombre light inside and the perpetual neon lights even when the sun shines outside. Without neon lights the low ceilings of the long corridors would be basically dark but with the neon lights they are dark all the same in their soul.

Well God ( or the Muse) help me: on Monday I must be back there for the annual boring, absurdly bureaucratic pre-exam assembly where I will be playing the role, with a bunch of very self-conscious others taking themselves so tremendously seriously, of a (as Grace Slick said in the late 60’s):

Grey Man Sane
No Color No Name.

Yes, because there’s a greyness surrounding us teachers in my country I feel we should continuously fight against, but most of us can’t see it. Or pretend not to.
Sorry…very personal view, of course.


Time passes. Life passes.
Like this shower of rain
that caught you while travelling.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I found a book today, by sheer chance, strolling by the university bookshop here in Venice: "Dickinson" by Helen Vendler whose name brought me back echoes from Seamus Heaney, from the interviews in "Stepping Stones". I had also recorded Helen Vendler's lecture from Poetry Foundation.
In this book H.Vendler provides the reader with illuminating commentary on 150 poems by Emily Dickinson, I am reading the introduction, I coudn't wait.
I said to myself "why not going to university bookshop today...". Serendipity must be encouraged!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


“Majestic” I said,
gazing at a herring gull gliding on the strand
and interrupting my heated confidence,
“the biggest kind, look, black-tipped wings”,
although I didn’t know if it was the biggest, really,
but I needed to pretend some detachment while telling
of devil and the desert and love’s labours in vain
with an obsession and lingering one could think insane…
well then, while you were stopping to give me your advice
the bird seemed just to alight in between the lines,
“horrible creatures”, you said, “ just bloody predators,
all they do is kill and eat whatever they meet,”
“Yes”, I agreed “but I like them”, still feeling heated,
“I like them even if I know they are butchers of sea and sky,
I like the strength in the double sword of their beak
with that red spot like a splotch of berry or blood,
the fiery touch of those who are both determined and mad,
I like their eyes and their cawing in which flash
the hallucinations of a Van Gogh with its bright nails of grass,
yes, they are predators both straightforward and opportunistic
not like me who linger and chant words that are uselessly mystic,
I like them at dawn on the roof, their prey in their mouth, swishing
and shuffling about like secret agents in minimum noise,
not like me, no, in between these lines, while I keep raving
in sub-Hamletic poise.