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.