Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Each day with so much ceremony
begins, with birds, with bells,
with whistles from a factory;
such white-gold skies our eyes
first open on, such brilliant walls
that for a moment we wonder
"Where is the music coming from, the energy?
The day was meant for what ineffable creature
we must have missed?" Oh promptly he
appears and takes his earthly nature
instantly, instantly falls
victim of long intrigue,
assuming memory and mortal
mortal fatigue.

More slowly falling into sight
and showering into stippled faces,
darkening, condensing all his light;
in spite of all the dreaming
squandered upon him with that look,
suffers our uses and abuses,
sinks through the drift of bodies,
sinks through the drift of classes
to evening to the beggar in the park
who, weary, without lamp or book
prepares stupendous studies:
the fiery event
of every day in endless
endless assent.

Today I participated in a seminar on Elisabeth Bishop and her poetry. At the end, after a series of very engaging reflections on some of her poems, I mentioned this poem. I couldn't point out much why it had always struck me profoundly, like the glow in a summer night in which the sort of Christ-like figure of the beggar appears as a revelation.
The lecturer found the poem intriguing even if he said he couldn't really understand it. I certainly can't say myself I "understand" it, but maybe, once more with poetry understanding is not really the matter.

I keep feeling the last four lines breathtaking. Gathering in a quiet, prodigious fist the gist of human condition.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


The storm is gathering over the bridge,
dark clouds as busy as bubbling flowers,
the water of the canal green and quiet
and the bustle among the bar tables on the bank
like the shuffling breath of an orchestra
in between rehearsals, claps, coughs, laughs,
and the sense of a whispered accomplishment like a current,
like tiny ripples on water or a cat purring.
A petal of light has just pierced the clouds
and towards the lagoon horizon
the sky expands in breezy largeness
and winds are free to sleep, in the soothing
lingering of the storm’s feet.
On this side of the canal two mallards are pacing
and a third one has just
laid eggs in her small floating box
where the sandbars she comes from
flash in a handful of hay,
where the tides swarm over the grass
and air roams in its perpetual gaze.

Scattered gusts, screeching shutters,
on the balcony the shifting fingers, the silky
conversation of branches.
In the silver silence of the wind
the cat casts its long miaowing
quiet and persistent like a moon.
You open the door and he comes in
with a gypsy belly of notes
asking to be gazed at and stroked
tasting carpet and wall, home’s skin and soul,
now it seems the storm has entered with him
with not much fuss, just winding and whispering,
the cat’s fur is discoursing with it
in veins of quietened electricity.
And the storm’s skin itself –you love thinking
it could linger endlessly- the cat’s whiskers
recording in sleep its trail of glances
like piano keys, its tale
of clashing arms
glittering in rest.

I remembered about this poem reading "Storm" by David King in his blog.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


A huge hush of light among
threads of twitters and brushing acacias.
The hedge in bloom putting shutters
under pressure, with stares on window-sills,
on walls thinning our wills.
In your blue, steady and sailing bed
dishevelled by branching shadows,
by the rustling and rumbling horizon.
It’s a hush with amber hammocks
stretched to the limit, with
street-stones where dust is skimmed,
lightened by wisps of breeze and the strength
of vacancy, of nobody’s breath.

And in the hush they come, a crowd
like the bud of a still unknown wish
smooth and hard like pomegranate,
their whispering has the slanting lash
of swallows’ wings.
They swiftly sit on verandas and rooftops
dangling their legs, disentangling their locks,
spreading glances at once, like roots and dots.
And there’s a gladness in not knowing
if they have anything to resettle.
Any mighty, echoing wrong.
It seems they perspire a quiet
that assists you. The waiting you want.

Now, in the lay of this sky.
Before the ambush of sunrise.

Maybe I put this poem in the blog in the past once. What has happened now is that I re-enjoyed deeply its strange, maybe a bit ackward imagery, while translating it, with great difficulty, into Italian for a friend.