The Italiad

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ON THE VERGE OF THIRTY

I’m strollin’ tall on the verge o’ thirty,
Still feelin’ fine, still foxy, still flirty,
Losin’ weight on mi tour of Italy,
Stick that up yer middle-age spread!

I was gonna write a ‘look-at-me’ sonnet,
About the things I’ve done since I was twenty-five,
But sack that! Shelley had died by now,
Mi best mate’s got married at the same age
& Dante had barely finish’d his Vita Nuova!

So a new life it is, & the past is past,
‘Cos I’m still thinkin’ o’ sonnets
& I’m still drinkin’ mi wine,
Give me life, & get me on it,
Now that I am twenty-nine!


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VAGABONDO

Solo, sono stato viaggio,
Dalle complessite senza vita,
Di villagio a villagio,
Panarami di vista a vista –
Oh! sospiri del Viarregio,
Oh! scheletro catta di Calcata,
Solo, sono stato viaggio,
Dalle complessite senza vita.

Stelle quando sono campaggio,
Pensiero sulla passagio,
Oh! isola balerno di Ponza,
Oh! piazza confortolvelmente,
Oh! bellaza di Portovenere,
Oh! Non complicato mezza-vita!

Alone, I went wandering, from complexities without life, from village to village, panoramas from view to view – O! sighs of Viareggio, O! skeletal cats of Calcata, Alone, I went wandering, from complexities without life. Stars when I am camping, thoughts upon the path, O! whale-island of Ponza, O! comfortable city-squares, O! beauty of Portovenere, O! uncomplicated half-life!


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OSTIA

Different Ages, Different Eras, Different Lives,
Different People now, but in us still survives
Those secret, tender memories of you
& I in love, I know you’ll feel them too.

Such happiness comes to a lucky few,
Yes, you & I, we shared such taintless joy,
Nothing felt a strain, the world wax’’d true,
Like Paris sweeping Helen off to Troy.

But, as that city earn’d Achaen wrath
Our love fell too, a crumbling citadel,
Upon which ruin stands our cenotaph!

& yet Aeneas found Ostian sound,
To beach his ship amidst the sand & shell
So may my broken heart find solace-ground!


ON A TRAM

Conversazione
Temptress in tights
Stop-start stutter-tracks
Roma Termini
Linea Cinque
Forte Penestina
Graffiti tags every wall
My naked legs
Sprawl’d on orange seats
Thro’ Iambic meditiations-

‘Opulent papal palaces of Rome
& yet so many hovels peasants flock
A priest ignored me once, lost, far from home
When I ask’d for directions, what a cock!’


NINE A.D.

Thro’ the Teutoburger Wald went the arms of Varius,
Arminius of the Cherusci made his excuses
& soon a ghoulish baritas surrounds the sons of Mars,
Chaunting for Lord Tuisto & Odin amidst the stars;
The chiefs fighting for victory, each fighter for their chief,
They set their swords for slaughter, quarterless, with no relief,
What storm of dark sound rages round the javelins & spears,
The fallen Goths are carried off to dry the widow tears,
Three days of rampant carnage in the dark & marshy wood,
A roman gen’ral cuts his throat – begurgles on the blood,
Some lads cast off their armour, kneeling under lethal blows,
Only a lucky handful reach the Rhine’s far-drifting flows;
Such news reaches Augustus, flying thro’ grieving regions;
“O Quintillius Varius, give me back my legions!”


 

THE NAZARENE

Gethsemene
Judas rope
Archmagus
Sadly maintain the scandalised Sanhedrim
Leaning their wills upon the Roman whim
The Pilate’s orders murder the son of Him
To Calvary
A Crucifix
Sanguinus
Human sin
Son of god
Devils day
Pious fires
Epiphanies


 

REQUIEM @ CASSINO

On the day my mother died I went up to Cassino,
O! Tis a place of death if ever there was one my friend,
For six hard months the Gustav Line murder’d thro’ an empire,
& the Poles who fought for Warsaw in a country far away;
In the day’s fading lights the abbey gleam’d ethereal,
Into a dark cathedral driving on my stumbling steps,
I found two shawl’d believers praying at an altar,
Backs to a tumbling organ by goblins hewn I’m sure),
Kneeling before a painting of a young Mother Mary,
Who posed uncanny likeness to my mother when she young,
Syrupy emotions flooded thro’ me, wailing for an outlet,
& as the ladies left I knelt & pray’d for that sweet darling
Who brought me up into this world, & gladsome I am for it
Writing this sonnet ‘neath the moon, in this still mountain air.


SALENTO

I surf’d a bicicletta thro’ Supersano’s north sierra,
Cycling olive groves via lizards, snakes & a sacred peace,
To pause beside two colonies; one Cacti, one red grapes thriving
Beyond their cultivations, wildening in bauble hosts.
It was a holy moment spent, of solitude & scenery,
Of tipsiness on local wine ducking flailing branches,
When an otherworldy wisdom penetrated ancyent senses
Like artefacts of golden guilds drilling deep for fortunes.

I pass a shepherd tending goats, a gatta guarding the strada,
To gust Scoranno’s empty streets into her spacious piazza,
VITTORIO EMANUELE – sipping icy, lemonade soda,
Explaining to curious locals my international heritage
‘Sono mescalato – Algerino e Inglese,
Pero, nel mio cuore senso sono Italiano!’


 

MEMORIUM TO THE PASSAGE OF TIME

Shelley has somehow made my library
& instantly I muse back to that time,
Far from these heady days in Sicily,
When Tuscany enthubulised my rhyme,

Remembering that perfect Pisan clime
When Kapitano drank thro our brief fling
By Arno side, & as I sang sublime
He pluck’d our lira like a beggar-king,

Time passes sweet siestas, composing
Pretences of dining with Byron’s crew,
Now summer rises from the finest spring
& nine years on those dreams I had seem true,

Wintering in Sicily’s hinterland,
A palace & a pen in either hand.


 

BELOW SCOPELLO

To become, to belong, bohemian,
So many miles my smitten songsmith sent,
Striving for prospects paradesean
In an immortal moment’s monument –

Time carves us this vista Tyrennean,
Tranquilo corner of a continent,
To become, to belong, bohemian,
So many miles my smitten songsmith sent.

This rocky cove, this tower, this mountain,
Blend in an often prophesied fusion,
Sweet Sicily! Sat silent & content,
Recently have my dreams increasing seen
Visions of places I had never been,
Where I should sit a songsmith & invent.


 

SICILIAN SCHOOL

S icily! orange-fresh Sicilia,
I n Frederick the Second’s timeless time
C astellos court the Magna Curia
I nspiring young nobility to rhyme,
L ocal, to the King of Sardinia,
I nternalizing scenery sublime,
A ll in a soft-stone precious sonetta,
N ear god their mellow, mellifluous rhyme.

S onnet! puritan storm of poetry,
C arv’d from the syntax of a shepherd song,
H appily driving sensibility
O ver verses, hurrying minds along,
O r losing us amid the mystery
L entini, Inghilfredi, lift among.


 

MARZEMI SUNRISE

As all the sky grew lighter at the change,
With pastel arms, from rich & vivid heart
Emboldening & merging with god’s art,
The peach of dawn reach’d round the ‘risons’ range,
As sea, milk-white, caressess waves to shore,
Which kissing rock, bow gracefully, takes leave,
Uprising from the lands of make-believe,
This red, all-seeing eye that I adore.

Tho’ you are far away in outer space,
All other visions crumble intodust,
Filling with feelings more than love or lust,
My humble soul enters that special place
Of two spirits conjoind by nature’s hand,
One omnipresent, one a grain of sand.


 

THE BATTLE OF THE AEGADI (241 BC)

Tween Trapani & fair farfalla isle
The fleets of Rome & Carthage meet at last,
The captain of an age the day would prove,
As tides of noisy battle ebb & flow,
A shepherd hears the furious phrenzie,
At fall of night his flock led to the shore,
The deads’ crude stench uprisen with the sun
Heart-wrenching was! A sorry scene of war,
Who is conquer’d, who is the conqueror?
He could not tell, a sanguine sea bestrewn
With floating corpses, men condemn’d to die
In hopeless sacrifice, this crimson cove
Could never wash the bloodshed from its rocks,
Like rich red wine adance white, cotton sheets.

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