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.