Open Balcony Doors

Open balcony doors, flung wide like arms.
Not a cloud. I invite in the sun;
The kitchen plunged into a bright atrium.
An engorged sink, filled with daytime.
A sunbath, basking.

The curtains play in a breeze
As light as their white linen.
Hung like two tall nightclub bouncers,
They billow with world-breath
And flicker into happy surrender-flags.

The summer seeps into my bones
And heat steadily sneaks into the home –
An all-conquering fifth column;
The thick, gluey air, heavy like marble.

My throat becomes dry, slowly
Parched like a starved riverbed
While the room coughs as a dusty attic
Finally opened up to the ablution-sky.

This seasons eats movements.
Clears my schedule. Scorches it.
Mirage-like and doused,
The days become their mercury air

And outside, warmth beckons like a lover.
Unconscious footsteps. I plod.
Unthinking baby steps.
To the sun-calls, the light-falls;
Each ray like a siren’s lasso,

Pulling me out onto the balcony pulpit.
The crow’s nest. The pier.
My deep breaths emulating explorers,
I stitch myself into the simmering.

Immobilised in the season’s shadow.
Nature is held hostage, tied and left to yellow;
The grass dies, the trees blister.

I gaze on for months, burning slightly,
Mesmerised in the cauldron-bulb
By the flexing of the strong sun’s eye.

False Idols

I see you, hiding
As a face in the puddles
Of this street;
Dark and dense with wine
And ghost memories.

You look at me,
Full of tremors and echoes,
Like you are still a hole in my earth.

A wet murmur.
Bright craters, glassy imitators
Shine like mirrors
In the rare, rippling light
Of the urban night.

A cloudy veil around the moon;
A river of streetlights;
A semaphore traffic light
Illuminating you with primary colours,
While, beating your eyelids,

You jump from water to water.
Briefly disappearing like a hot storm
That remains in the muscle memory
Of the air, still twitching –

And similarly, you stay with me;
Accompanying, following
Like a sticky religion, like honey
Between your fingers on hot days.

But I should know
Not always to believe what I think.
To value conversions, clean hands.
This is not you. You were you.

You were once too human.

And this is just a drunk creation,
Nostalgic self-flagellation,
And thoughts like biblical arrows.

My imagination has remade you,
Summoned and raised you,
And I have created something new:

A love, worthy of a pedestal.


Falsi Idoli

Ti vedo nascondendo,
Una faccia nelle pozzanghere
Di questa strada scura;
Denso con il vino
E le memorie come fantasmi.

Guardandomi,
Pieno di tremori ed echi,
Come se fossi ancora un buco nella mia terra.

Un mormorio bagnato.
Crateri luminosi, lucidi imitatori
Splendono come specchi
Nella rara luce increspata
Della notte urbana.

Un velo nuvoloso intorno alla luna;
Un fiume di lampioni;
Un semaforo
Ti illumina con i colori primari
Mentre, battendo le palpebre,

Salti dall’acqua all’acqua.
Brevemente,
Sparisci come un temporale estivo
Che rimane memoria muscolare
Dell’aria, ancora spasimando –

E allo stesso modo, tu stai con me;
Mi accompagni, mi segui.
Come una religione appiccicosa,
Come il miele tra le dita nei giorni caldi.

Ma dovrei sapere
Di non credere sempre in ciò che penso.
Per valutare le conversioni, pulire le mani.
Questo non sei tu. Eri tu.

Prima eri troppo umano.

E questa è solo una creazione ubriaca,
Auto-flagellazione nostalgica,
E pensieri come frecce bibliche.

La mia immaginazione ti ha rifatto,
Evocato e cresciuto,
Ed ho creato qualcosa di nuovo:
Un amore che merita una medaglia.


So, this poem had a very interesting life. It started off in Italian with the first line, which I came up with and really enjoyed the internal rhyme, however I got around halfway through and hit a bit of a brick wall. I translated the poem into English to see if that would make things easier and fortunately it did, with the “path” to the end becoming much clearer and different language choices suddenly appearing. Then, once I was finished, I translated the final few verses back into the Italian.

There are subtle differences between the two versions, but mostly for language purposes. It was my first time writing a poem in this way and I liked both versions a lot and thought they both deserved publication – also I’ve been threatening to publish poetry in Italian for a while so this seems like a good place to start. Writing in Italian is much more of a challenge for me personally as it’s not my mother tongue, however I really liked the interplay between the two languages and testing my own poetic abilities in this way.

Milano

Suddenly, now I live on parallels
As a new city, country
Manifests itself around me
In a grey fog and a splutter of smog.

Milan: the Italian antithesis of Italy.
Lurking beneath the umbrella mountains,
Industrially beautiful
And incubating movements.

This city is like a whirring.
A buzzing, fast, metropolitan, vast
Push beyond a terracotta past
Into the unexplored, the not yet transformed.

A cityscape like cracked earth.
Buildings fissured by sun stained tarmac,
Littering shadows from the balconies,
Looming down like gargoyles.

And this is now a home.
I am concealed, unknown
And sealed away beneath the sprawl.
Alone, I piece together language like a puzzle.

But tonight, I stumble home
Through the night and wine,
When I turn a corner to find
An illuminated Duomo

Lit up like a petrified, white ghost
As a spectacle of statuesque marble.
This is the river’s source.
This is from where the city pours.

Rippling out across the map
In the shape of a bicycle wheel,
So that even when stopped,
Cast and halted,

It is still turning onwards,
Driving forwards.
Overflowing and spilling out streets,
Canals, tramlines and undergrounds.

A dynamism, truly electrified.
Swallowing up antiquities
And sweeping the ground clean
Into an international blank.

However, it can also relent,
Abruptly;
Like a cigarette and a slow cappuccino
Or a warm, green veranda in the rays

Of an unconquered sun god.
Opium air.
Golden hour.
When life slows to the speed of a deep breath.

Milano, you have chewed me for a year
And spat me out as someone new,
While I continue to submerge myself further,
Profoundly, like you are my baptistry.


Allora, eccoci, la mia ultima serata dopo un anno qua a Milano, e cosa posso dire? Lo sapete già che mi mancherete tutti. Durante quest’anno ho trovato tanti carissimi amici, veramente persone bellissime, e sarà davvero strano vivere senza di voi nella mia vita quotidiana poiché avete fatto quest’esperienza così speciale. Però lo so che ci vedremo presto (anche perché vorrei sempre una vacanza). Ma sono cambiato molto quest’anno, in modi accademici, personali e creativi, e penso che sia perché questa città e paese mi hanno dato l’opportunità di crescere come persona; sono più confidente, pubblico la mia poesia per la prima volta, il mio italiano è migliorato molto – e soprattutto sono più abbronzato. Insomma, non so come sarei senza essere andato all’estero, ma sarebbe probabilmente peggio. Grazie a tutti.

Trash TV

That is not a television screen
You are watching but a mirror –
I think, unwillingly
Setting with the evening,
Searching for mindless passivity in the TV
After another day falling over new words
Like my tongue is a toddler learning to walk.

But flickering through the channels
Nightly, I see the mute brigade:
Tall, blonde, acolytes
Paraded out in single-file
Like jets in formation
And walking like they’re missing
Collars tight around their necks
In clothes barely stitched past idea.
An Italian TV trope so common
They have only their own noun.

Clearly, they’re not meant to be people
But to the audience this must be palatable,
Because I watch with my foreign eyes
In silence, waiting for an outcry.
These are not women, stripped –
But nameless, lifeless beauties;
Tottering blow-up dolls, rolled out like vellum
Flanking the liver spots of the Hefner presenter.

A blinking apostate, reflecting in the glass.
The room bathes in grey, grainy beams
Of an arriving fantasy, fifty years too late.
Is this Venus and Cleopatra reincarnate?
My English sensibilities, glaring
Like silver chewing gum foil

In the Mediterranean sun;
My dropped jaw, culturally dislocated.