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.

Marettimo

ON

a

TOUR

of the

SICILIAN
ISLAND

of

MARETTIMO

Il mio giro di un’isola bella


STROPHE

Italia d’oro
Paradiso di pensiero esiliato
Regina di poesia

Sicilia sublime
Cuore di oceano antico
Cucina di cultura

Animato Trapani
Smeraldo del Mediterraneo
Delizia di pescatori

Magnifico Egadi;
Farfalla Favignana
Pigro Levanzo

L’onde riflettono il sole
Marettimo splendida estensione
La genti su avvicina al porto

In fondo alla prima strada
Madonna e angelo di pietra
Fanno la guardia di tombe bianche

Odore di pane cotto al forno
Caldi panini riempiono la mia borsa
Pizza per prima colazione

Galleria d’alberi
Gl’uccelli cantano dolcezza
Pietroso paesaggio cresce ripido

Gioco di roccia irregolare
Punta Bassano
Crocifisso del pescatore morto


 

ANTISTROPHE

Passi di esse levarsi
Serpente zigzaga attraverso il paesaggio
Pini affollano la Carcaredda

Morbido, marrone pavimento della foresta
Tappeto d’agi innumerevoli
Ceppi aspettano la panetteria

Discendo alla spiaggia
Salto masso dopo a masso
Lungo la baia forma d’arco

Roccia di marmo e rosa
Geologia dilettante
Acquaforte di tempo profondo

Scalo la Spalmatore
Sopra, un’altro pianeta,
O quando nostro mondo era giovane?

Signore di Marettimo
Piramide di sassi muscioso
Mare su tutti lati

Suono spacca il silenzio
Aviogetto Italiano
Curva attraversa le scene

Da Tunisia lontana
Pantelleria nebbiosa
La Sicilia chiara

Pace poiche la mia anima,
Questo momento purifica,
Canta per Sicilia

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EPODE

Discendando con il giorno
Da questa cresta d’edera
Faccio valanghe miniscule

Passagio ondulato comme onde
Ramoscelli scrosciano sotto il mio piede
Piccante aroma

Orrizonte rosa
Mare inghiotte il sole rosso
Stella di sera che si alra

Pericolosa passaeggiata
Il Gabbiani molestano
Una barca di pescha sul mare

Monte Cofano
Levanzo & un castello
Avanzano furtivamente dentro vista

Vecchio Castello Spagnolo
Sella la schiena d’una tartaruga
Gemiti fanno eco dalla sua prigione

Stelle cominciano il loro regno
Capre fuggono al mio passaggio
Scorto la barca alle paese

Uomini, donne e bambini
Gettano le loro canne per calamari
Gloria in chili

Nel bar della piazza animato
Leggo ad alta voce la mia poesia
Il mio giro di un’isola bella

Marching on Parnassus

GRECIA

During the long course of this poethood
My songs I have prepared for one moment,
At last! to Grecia by my Muses sent
& in my heart I knew they always would!

Upon Italic plateauxs have I stood
Hoping to glimpse her shores through mountains bent
Between the mists, that shuffle innocent
From peak to peak, as only phantoms could!

As we are sailing to antiquity
Some laurel wreath to fix unto a brow,
Where oranges hang every second tree,
Antiquity seems almost here & now

As Greece, in rustic beauty, like a bay,
Before us spreads as breaks the cloudless day.


 

IONIA

The sun is setting gold on Zacynthus,
The breeze is blowing freedom thro’ my hair
The waves at the beck & call of Phorcys,
Have dragg’d us ever closer to his lair.

O Cephalonia, Byronic isle!
Such promise holds mine animated mind
Beneath thy peaks I’ll spend some happy while,
Sensing, already, sights to stir my kind.

Am I some Telemachos coming home?
Or Eumea drifting in from Elis?
Or Phaecian vessel spurting thro foam,
Where in the hold slumbers Odysseus?

I am these things, & many more beside,
For they shall live ‘til poetry has died!


 

HERMES

O! God of scholars, travelers & thieves,
I pray, lord, watch my labour
& all success & grace which it receives
Offer to thy favour

O keen-eyed giant-slayer, never old,
On sandals mountain-skimming
Vvarnish’d with an untarnishable gold
Heed my mortal hymning

O son of Maia! if one hundred eyes
Yearn to hurt me dearly
Grant me bad weather or a clever guise
& I’ll vanish clearly

Lord, find me antidotes when I ‘m grown ill
Or cloaks & tunics when comes winter’s chill


 

KEPHALONIA

I stood upon the old Venetian bridge
That nordic Argostoli now lagoons
& hitch’d a ride to Sami, slept a night
‘Neath canvas in a vacant camping ground;
Another ride, next morning, I’d alight,
A ferry-boat to tramel sound-to-sound
At whose sharp keel I sat, the wild sea-spray
Fresh spirits energizing for the tour.

Last night we camp’d under wonderful stars
& today, what a day, what adventure,
Breakfast by the beach, a warm morning high
With the sky never-ending above us
& the sea full of islands where tip-tops of mountains
Rise up on the swarms of wild olives.


 

DEPARTING THE SANCTUARY OF OLYMPIA

Until we meet again, Olympia!
When I shall raise my daughter to the height
A toddling flame
& as the morn-pink roses, would show her
The very scene & in the very light
I chose her name

My love, as I sit waiting for a bus
To Tropea or Pirgos, either way,
I think of thee!
Wondering if the future holds for us
A glitter-girl to please us in her play
Our bouncing bee

Who, when she’s sleeping looks as sweet as you
& laughing, me!


 

STERCA HELLAS

Where Autumn-tinted peaks rise glorious
I hitch’d a lift, a lorry-load of bales
Whose little houses sing their hearth-side tales
Old stories of this hoary, mountainous
Region, of most hardy handsome hunters
Fed by their ever-fattening females
Where taxidermy, of the arts, prevails
& portraits hang with pride for ancestors!

The Mornou Dam sits like a precious stone
Heart of a highland chain that god-like rings
This world where only poets dare to chance
& each of them, I sense, was once a throne
For spirits older than Olympic kings,
Where Cronos dined & Titans loved to dance.


 

TO DELPHI

As careful steps & aiming for the post
Must bring us ever closer to our goal,
Thro’ sharp-barb’d thorny burnett hack’d my feet,
Urg’d on by robins perch’d on pungent spurge,
Along an ancyent path of broken stones,
Which Idomenus trod before the truce’
I mountain-goated past four snarling hounds,
Stone-showers scatter, man’s best friend or nay!

The bravest follows at a wise distance,
A fine black bitch, til gladly I arrive
By Delphi’s walls, the troubadour no more,
Strange tortoise, with a home flat on my back,
Ready to rest, & write, & relish life
Upon same rocks where Orpheus once roam’d!


 

LIDORIKI

Post modern haiku
World-nomadic sonetteer
Photos in stanzas

Village football match
Slangful insults friendly flung
Scratching cinder feet

Wow! Superstar goal
Next morning while buying bread
Him humble baker

Perfect piazza
English football every scene
Tables skimmed with cards


 

CASTALIAN SPRING

So, this is the heartbeat of poetry,
From holy Parnassus, uprising sheer,
These magi-waters of empyrean,
Pulse down from such a theatre of stone,
Them pouring thro’ the depths of my studies,
Where in a sketch I see gargoyle faces –
Perhaps by Hobhouse in Lord Byron’s ‘Life’ –
Who came up, too, to taste this ancient spring
Upon his very famous ‘Pilgrimage,’
While mine is ended here… I sup the mead,
Faint hint of minerals, revitalised,
I swear to all my Muses I shall be
A poet still, & if they ride with me
To Scotland, I shall build them temples there!


 

THIRTY STIRLING

Thirty Stirling from Thessalonika
I paused a moment with my golden race
One of those places no-one ever goes
Where only true poetry can take ya

With a two-litre bottle of rose
& a view, & the sun, & the moment
When mounting Mount Parnassus has just leant
A certain special magic to the day

I dream of more fresh roses to be found
Across the world in sites yet to be seen
& of the children I am pois’d to ween
& buy for each an island & a hound

A terrier for most, but for the best
A spaniel with silver-splashing chest!


 

THERMOPYLAE

Napoleon, in Amiens, the crown!
Wrested from papal clutches, his own hands
Placed steel upon his brow, Corsican clown
No longer, but an emperor of lands!

I came upon a plain of dreams & steam
A spartan in my body, duty, rhyme
Where Leonidas & his polis cream
Defied the best of persia in their prime

On noble Kolonos a monument
Topp’d by a laurel wreath, I gladly felt
That thro the muses it was sent to me
As I before phoenician letters knelt

Bending the branch into a perfect ring
& crown’d myself, at last, a poet-king!


 

ON THE SLOPES OF MOUNT OLYMPUS

Zeusian eagles hover’d oer the folds
Where I collected firewood, meanwhile
Immersed in poesy’s pristeen reverie,
Of lofty pitch & classical alludes,
The constitutions of a younger vow
Lay fully realized, a windy day,
Tho’ again, no cloud on which to ponder –
Of any poet’s life I’ve known no par.

Above us rose Olympus, tree-green gorge
Echoes mine epic chauntings to the gods
With ghostly, half-minoan bursts of joy.

Far from the heavings of society,
I cook wild stew in Castalian mead,
Flavour’d by mountain herbs, & cared for naught.


 

EMAIL FROM THESSALY

As every maid Odysseus posess’d
Pinn’d Telemachus, home, hard to their breast
I want to wake beside you every day
Tell you I love you, ask if you’re OK
Give you a kiss if you’re going to work
Or hide if you’re menstrual & going bezerk
For ye are the one thing I crave here the most
Ycamped on the crest of this ocean coast
Where under me sea-nymphs whisper your name
& above glitter stars with your eye-light’s flame
An eagle glides by me as deft as you do
All these & this singing reminds me of you
For you are the music that livens my drumming
Be patient, my love, I am coming…

The Language of Flowers

Flowers’ Meanings

Acorn – immortality
Acynthus – artistic
Aloe – grief
Ambrosia – love returned
Amethyst – admiration
Angelica – inspiration
Angrec – finer arts
Apple – temptation
Ash Tree – grandeur
Asphodel – my regrets follow you to the grave
Basil – hatred
Bay Rose – beware
Bay Wreath – record of merit
Begonia – dark thoughts
Belladonna – silence
Black Bryony – be my support
Bluebell – humility
Broken Straw – a broken contract
Burnet – merry heart
Butterfly Weeds – let me go
Cammomile – energy in adversity
Carnation, red – alas for my poor heart
Candytuft – indifference
Carnation, striped – refusal
Cedar Leaf – I live for thee
Celandine – joys to come
Centauria – felicity
Cherry Blossom – good education
Clematis – mental beauty
Cobea – gossip
Convolvulus – a bond
Cornflower – refinement
Cornpoppy – consolation
Crocus, saffron – mirth
Crocus, spring -youthful gladness
Cudwed – never ceasing remembrance
Daisy, marguerite – a token
Daisy, mountain – innocence
Daisy, wylde – I share your feelings
Eglantine – poetry
Eidelweiss – noble courage
Feverfew – protection
Fig – argument
Four Leaf Clover – be mine
Forget-Me-Not – true love
Forsythia – anticipation
Fresia – trust
Furze – enduring affection
Garlic – strength
Gentle balm – pleasantry
Guelder Rose – old age
Helenium – tears
Hollyshock – ambition
Honey Flower – love sweet & secret
Imperial Lily – majesty
Indian Cress – warlike trophy
Ipomaca – I attach myself to you
Iris – eloquence
Judas Tree – betrayal
Justicia – perfection of female beauty
Laurel – ambition
Lilac, white – youthful innocence
Lily-of-the Valley – return of happiness
Linnea – I wish we were together
Locust Tree – affection beyond the grave
Magnolia – love of nature
Meadow Saffron – grown old
Monkshood – Beware a deadly foe is near
Michaelmas Daisy – farewell
Milkwort – hermitage
Mint – virtue
Myrtle – disciline
Oleander – Take caution
Orange Blossoms – bridal festivities
Orchis – a belle
Pansy – a thought
Pea – an appointed meeting
Peach Blossom – I am your captive
Poppy – eternal sleep
Purple Columbine – resolve to win
Purple Lilac – first emotions of love
Red Catchfly – youthful love
Rose, black – death
Rose, blue – mystery
Rose, light-pink – sympathy
Rose, red – love
Rose, silver – sonnetry
Rue – disdain
Stephanotis – desire to travel
Sweet Basil – good wishes
Syringa – memory
Thistle – austerity
Thyme – activity
Tulip, red – declaration of love
Tulip, variegated – beautiful eyes
Tulip, yellow – hopelessness
Veronica – fidelity
Violets, blue – faithfulness
Weeping Willow – grief
Windflower Anemone – foresaken
Wylde Tansy – I declare war against you
Zephyr Flowers – expectation


 

National Flowers

Bangladesh – White Water Lily
Sicily- Carnation
Cyprus – Rose
Denmark – Marguerite Daisy
Egypt – Egyptian Lotus
England – Rose
Estonia – Cornflower
Finland – Lily-of-the-Valley
France – Iris
Germany – Centauria
Greece – Bear’s Breech
Holland – Tulip
India – Banyan Tree
Indonesia – Pink Moth Orchid
Italy – Poppy
Latvia – Wilde daisy
Lithania – Rue
Maldives – Rose
Norway – Purple Heather
Poland – Cornpoppy
Portugal – Lavender
Russia – Cammomile
Scotland – Thistle
Sri Lanka – Nil Manel
Sweden – Linnea
Thailand – Rachapruek

LOF 1: The Cats of Calcata

Being an account of two cats of Calcata who communicate upon a romantic level by using the secret Language of the Flowers. Upon falling in love as kittens, then getting married, their tranquility is disturbed by the arrival of a young, handsome tom from the nearby town of Falaria. The Wife becomes completely enamored of him, begins an affair & seeks a divorce. Her husband challengers the tom to a duel, but is left second bested & bleeding. His wife sees this & realizes her true love for her husband – but it is too late, for in a fit of jealousy the husband murders her. He instantly shows the greatest remorse, burying his wife at the spot where she died…

Lazing through days of Italy,
O life of lovely hours!
The soft wine & festivity,
The sunshine & tranquility,
Where Street Cats speak, eloquently,
The Language of the Flowers.

There is a place where you must go
To hear the street-cat patter,
Where sweet Rondini swoop & show,
The river glistens far below
A maze of streets, then you will know
The magic of Calcata.

Upon a soft & starry night
Two kittens kiss’d all hazy
& pluck’d two Lilacs flushing bright,
Purple for her, for him pure White,
Love blossoming from first sweet sight
Fresh as a Mountain Daisy.

Young lovers grew, through every scene
The cute Red Catchfly carried –
Where Spring Crocuses grow serene
& Orange Blossoms speckle green,
Amidst the gentle Celandine
They were forever married!

Their home a mountain theatre
Sunshine rising to mild purrs –
Each day they found Veronica,
Blue Violets & Ambrosia
For to bind them all together
On a bed of felted Furze.

Then from Falaria there came
The cat with eyes a-dapple,
& in her heart the strangest flame
Burning so brightly, to her shame,
With Amethyst he won her name
& left for her an Apple.

They dallied by the old river
Where grow the Four-Leaf Clovers,
He plucked the wylde Justicia
& with Peach Blossom gave to her,
Beside brightest Honey Flower
Became they tender lovers.

The husband woke that cloudy night,
Went out all wrack’d with worry,
Grew frantic thro’ the gloomy light
Til shone the moon full beaming bright,
No man should suffer such a sight
Underneath the Judas Tree.

Biting a fig between his teeth,
Clutching a Red Carnation,
He gave to her the Cedar Leaf,
But she, to his own disbelief,
Wrapt Butterfly Weeds in a wreath
& bid for separation.

The husband’s wounded heart wants war,
Throws down the cruel Wylde Tansy –
The piazza, as was the law,
Saw scratch & screech & bite & claw,
As lost he left, limping by paw,
From heaven fell a Pansy.

To see her first love lose the fray,
By an arrow her heart shot!
She found a fresh straw from the hay,
A dozen Red Tulips at play,
Wove them into a lush bouquet
With a fresh Forget-Me-Not.

Pressing Basil into a wound,
Chewing fresh Begonia,
He stood up with a hissing sound,
Sore paws the pretty rooftops pound,
Upon a wall his sweetheart found
& push’d her to the murder!

Distraught he dash’d to where she fell
& wept for the tragedy,
Kiss’d & buried her spirit’s shell,
Cloaked her with Cudweed, as tears swell
He placed a little Asphodel
‘Neath the sea-green Locust Tree.

So if you ever take the care
To visit fair Calcata
Go to the walls the street cats share
& pause a while to look down there
Where you should see, come really stare,
The grave Red Roses flatter.

LOF 2: The Falcon Princess

Being an account of a contest, wherein the princes of five contrees attempt to win the affections of the princess of the king of Sicily’s falcons. The tournament is held upon Monte Falcano that towers ovet the island of Marretimo & one-by-one they are whittled down, first thro’ their personality, then speed, then ability to hunt game. Finally, the princes of Portugal & Cyprus duel, wherein the Portuguese falcon is triumphant, wins the princess & plants his national flower on the island for posterity.

There is an island you should know
Of sun & sea & showers
Call’d marvelous Marettimo
Where Homer mused so long ago
& all god’s creatures grew to know
The Language of the Flowers

Upon this island lives a king,
Lord of Sicily’s Falcons,
The Guelder Roses grow each spring
About his Ash Tree, in a ring,
But still the Eagles fear his wing
From Scotland to the Balkans.

More beautiful than true Orchis
Grew his beloved daughter;
When she had pluck’d
He sent forth mountain messengers
To the royal Falcon princes
Inviting them to court her.

A handsome prince flew to propose
Bearing tri-petal’d
Then came on others, one with Rose,
One clutch’d Lavender in his claws,
One brought Bear’s Breech in spiky pose,
The last: Egyptian Lotus!

Each kiss’d the princess with soft peck
& shower’d admiration;
One gave her Mint, one gave Angrec,
One Cherry Blossom, one Garlic,
But to the one with Hollyshock
She toss’d a Striped Carnation.

The king announced a tournament
Amid the mountain bowers;
The goats broke up their government
Assinos braved the steep ascent
While local seagulls squawk’d consent
& scatter’d Zephyr Flowers.

The crowds had gather’d on a slope,
Oer the sea that swam to space,
The Princes hover’d at the rope
The King took out a telescope
Salvaged from some ship shorn of hope
Then settled to watch the race

Four Falcons flew down lightning fast
From clouds to the low sea-mist,
Touching the lone fuggazi mast
Then Imperial Lily pass’d,
The princess cheer’d, gave to the last
The colourful Amethyst.

Three Princes hunted thro the day,
Down they swoop’d on ev’ry kill,
Each filling up a silver tray,
Then when the sun shed last red ray
The princess on the least did spray
The blossom of Sweet Basil.

The King announced twas time to dine,
The day’s hunt put in a pile,
Wash’d down with wash’d up Tuscan wine,
The finalists both found a sign,
One pluck’d the Purple Columbine
& his rival, Cammomile.

Two Falcons face the final fray
From Portugal & Cyprus;
The evening gloom consumes the day
Up to the moon assinos bray,
The Princess keeps the cold at bay
Wrapp’d with warm Indian Cress.

Thro’ Belladonna-scented sky
Princes fought with wing & peck,
Their talons lock, they fall from high,
One hits the water with shock’d cry,
Returns, receiving, with a sigh,
The Bay Wreath around his neck.

The Prince of Portugal had won
His princess’s Carnation,
As is the law of high falcon
The King embraced his future son
Whose flower planted with talon
To join the vegetation.

So if you ever take the time
To view Monte Falcano,
& venture on its verdant climb,
‘Tween sea & Sicily sublime,
More fragrant than a poet’s rhyme
Does the lush Lavender grow.

LOF 3: The Castle of Tranquebar

Being an account of a the great Tsu-na-mi that shook the south-eastern portions of the globe at the start of the twenty-first century. The scene is the old Danish colony of Tranquebar, in the land of the Indian Tamils, in which place a castle is used as protection against those infernal waves. The leading protaganist of the tale is a brightly intelligent parrot who leads the animals of the locality to safety.

If you should ever deck a mast
& tack for the eastern star,
There is a place to take repast,
Besides the ocean’s vista vast,
Stood tough enough for any blast,
The Castle of Tranquebar.

Our story starts not long ago,
The Ocean growning angry,
& conjuring a global show,
She struck the land a mortal blow,
Being the wave we all now know
O terrible Tsu-Na-Mi!

That mighty rush, ten meters tall,
Struck in the early morning,
The lush Thai beaches first to fall,
Where whales watch’d on with dire appall,
& join’d their chorus in a call
To give the world their warning.

The music of that newsy throng
More beautiful than Handel;
For many leagues it flew along,
Few understood its ancient tongue,
But one seabird had heard their song
Sung by the Coromandel.

She was a parrot, blue & green,
There was no parrot smarter;
A hundred summers had she seen,
& knew this day could only mean
Waves furious, for she had been
A witness at Sumatra.

She knew of misty tidal wave
& old Poseidon’s powers,
So flew to land so she could save
Her fellow creatures from the grave,
Her only tool that voice God gave,
‘The Language of the Flowers.’

The parrot pluck’d from out the ground
Lush Monkshood & Bay Roses,
As Oleander then was found
He spread its petals wide around,
As closer drew the awful sound
Of thunder as it closes.

All in a jungle’s clattering
The animals did scatter,
The monkey’s gan their chattering,
Thepilets pitter-pattering,
As sun-idylls were shattering
Whatever was the matter?

From greening glades to village street
Th’unpanicking parrot flew,
Cool-headed, truly, in the heat,
Trailing Forsythia from feet,
He made his warning-call complete
With feather-white Feverfew.

As animals form Noahan crowd
The elephants huff’d & puff’d,
The cattle battl’d on unbow’d,
With cats & dogs & donkeys loud,
But peacocks acted very proud,
Bedding down in Candytuft.

Our hero reach’d that grand fortress
Beside Thangarambadi,
All pass’d beneath the portcullis
Into the courtyard’s thick-sloped bliss,
& wonder’d what this trouble is
Affecting everybody.

A blast! An earthquake’s aftershock,
As shorewards Tsunami rips,
It lifting tough ships onto rocks,
Freezing forever human clocks,
Blew murdering thro’ proud peacocks
Hid in the Yellow Tulips.

As round the walls an ocean flows,
All the beast dared not to breathe,
As waters fall where waters rose,
Aft’ rounds of spontaneous applause,
Daffodils, Eidelweiss & Furze
Woven neatly to a wreath.

Those flowers tied to parrot’s wing
Happy gratitude flew far,
If life to Tamil coasts ye bring,
Listen to how the monkeys sing,
Of sweet deliverance, praising
The Castle of Tranquebar.

LOF 4: The Lost Kitten

Being an account of the birth of a kitten in Calcata & her accidental journey to the city of Rome, whereupon she is discovered by a local street cat who decides to help her return home. After plucking flowers from a local park in order to communicate they visit the city’s chief cat, the emperor, at his seat on the collosseum, who gives them a meeting with a wise old feline at Forte Prenistina. The old ginger worked out the locality of the kitten by her odour, that is the land of hazelnuts, upon which the street cat carries the kitten through many an adventure to the town of Falaria, where they part. The kitten then makes her own way to a joyous re-union with her parents in Calcata.

Once more, my friends, follow our rhyme
To the green hills north of Rome,
For Calcata, set so sublime
Midst nature & her ancyent chime,
Where people live life’s playful time,
& the Street Cats share their home.

There was a Cat with snow white fur,
Her ears all pink & fluffy,
Wooing the tom which fell for her,
Whose lion mane & Roman burr
Arose passions & thoughts that stir –
They had a little baby.

She grew into a lovely one,
Calm as a river cruising,
They showed her off to everyone,
Around her neck wrapped pink ribbon,
& on ev’ry bonnie action,
They call’d her so amusing.

To Calcata there came a clown.
The sun was up & shining.
Our little Kitten yawn’d a frown
& found a spot to snuggle down…
The truck set off & all the town
Could hear her mother whining.

She woke up to the roar of cars,
A jolt & she went flying.
Into a land of neon bars.
Where city streetlights shine like stars –
A scruffy Tomcat with rough scars
Attends her timid crying.

He finds her lying in the dark,
Soft purring as she cowers;
The Tom becomes her patriarch
& leads her to a handsome park,
Where all beasts speak, from bleat to bark,
The Language of the Flowers.

The Kitten mewed so helplessly,
Pawing an Ipomaca,
With Windflower Anemone,
She bites a sprig of Bryony,
The Tom banished her misery
With leaf-knoted Fresia.

As oasis they found so calm,
The day was slowly dawning,
In pretty ruins free from harm
Grew Cobea & Gentle Balm,
They found good shade beneath a palm
& dozed right through the morning.

Hind legs rose with the mid-day heat
& plunged into the city.
From street to roof, from roof to street.
That grey, fat, one-eyed cat to meet,
Sat in his Coliseum seat –
Who thought & then pawed a Pea.

Emperor hissed & they were gone
To Forte Prenistina,
By Milkwort & Meadow Saffron,
Wise Ginger sniffed the silk ribbon,
Gave them a Hazelnut & one
Bay Rose to warn for danger.

The Tom leapt on a clanking train
Clutching the Kitten tightly,
To thunder through the fair champaign,
Until the tall, town-topped mountain,
There hit the road, where once again
The starlight shone so brightly.

They dally thro’ a fragrant night,
Perfumed with Convolvulus,
A restaurant slides into sight,
Aroma whets the appetite,
They search the bins, a meaty bite
Tasting of Saffron Crocus.

Morning covers Falaria,
The weather light & lazy –
By Hazelnut & gatherer,
He purr’d goodbye & gave to her
The Garlic plant in full flower
& Michaelmas the Daisy.

Sad Cat mourns by the old river
Beneath a weeping Willow;
Her lover leaps from Calcata,
Clutching their beautiful daughter,
Happiness beams from a mother,
Whose heart her Kitten’s pillow!

LOF 5: The Asian Wreath

Being an account of the death of the King of the Falcons, consumed with grief upon hearing of the Asian Tsunami. His heir, the Falcon Prince, gathers a number of flowers & sets off for Asia, where in exchange for his own flowers he obtains the national flowers of several countries. He then returns to Sicily & wraps the dead king in the wreath, before dropping the body into the flames of Mount Aetna.

There is a tayle that I must tell,
Tho’ men be disbelieving,
Of when the King of Falcons fell
Into the flamey fields of hell
& in that moment broke a spell
Of misery & grieving.

My tayle begins beneath the sea,
Angry has grown Poseidon,
For poisonous Humanity
Pollutes his kingdom carelessly,
& so he sends the Tsu-Na-Mi
At canters ‘cross the ocean.

The news brought to Marettimo
& a king sick with disease;
At such sad tidings wept him so,
This news was such a mortal blow,
Once mighty breath began to slow,
Giving out a dying wheeze.

As is the way of ancyent laws
The crown prince of the Falcons
Took up six flowers in his claws,
Transports them to the tragic cause
Of all his weepings & his woes,
Flew far beyond the Balkans.

He drove above the dusty lands
Where God’s flowers rarely grow,
Ranging beyond those desert sands
That change to Ocean’s rippling bands,
Saw clusterings of small islands
In the waters far below.

Mid Maldive pearls, where palm trees grew
To the monkey’s chattering,
Dropt was the beautiful Aloe
Of yellow hue & herbal dew,
In recompense the Falcon drew
A Rose to tie to his wing.

Sri Lanka loom’d, our Falcon fell
For the mountain-scented tea,
Where lions charm’d him with a spell
Of sunny-centred Nil Manel,
He swapp’d one for an Asphodel
Afore soaring ocean free.

He flew the length of India
Where the weird wild banyon grows,
There met the Peacock Emperor
Whom, after tea, flew together,
Our Falcon pluck’d a tail-feather
& won him a Light-Pink Rose.

To Bangladesh he next did come
& the Gangeatic mouth,
Near tygers hid from hunter’s drum
White Water Lilies, quite a sum,
The Falcon dropp’d Helenium,
Pluck’d Sepal & reer’d on south.

He came to Thailand’s golden sand
Where the Rachapruek grows,
Whose pendulous racemes act grand,
For on them elephants won’t stand
But brave are falcons &, as plann’d,
Barter’d was a wild Black Rose.

He flew at last to Borneo
With a Poppy in his claws,
Where Moth Orchids quite pinkly grow,
Guarded by Dragons Komodo,
But opiates all Beasts do slow,
Soon the jungle shook with snores.

The Prince he pluck’d an Orchid free,
His wreath was wound completed;
So on he flew high westerly
Across the sea to Sicily,
Where on an ancient chestnut tree
A thousand falcons seated.

They flew in funerary lines,
Up to Aetna’s steaming rim,
At sunset when the psyche shines
The king dropt in these molten mines,
Wrapt in a wreath, Prince screech’d oer pines
Til that sad, sore day grew dim.

So, if you visit Sicily,
See where Mount Aetna towers,
Think of great Asia’s Tsu-Na-Mi
& how her emblems came to be
Bound in a wreath of poignancy,
For Falcons speak with Flowers.

Tsu-Na-Mi

TO

the

250,000

VICTIMS

of the

TSU-NA-MI

of

BOXING DAY

2004


STROPHE

Remember the host of the ghostly battalion
Imagine them drown’d in a growling sea
Beach-huts for driftwood, corpses for carrion
O sing a sad song for the TSU-NA-MI

Sing to the outlying islands of Andaman
As waves strip the tribesmen’s neolithic dress
Ripping them out to the mad, frothing ocean
Leaves nothing behind but a waste wilderness

Far worse than the monster that shock’d mighty Lisbon
From the Guadalquivir to the Antibes
Struck by the scope, the proportion of Ocean
Witnessing forever these biblical seas

Remember the mood in the days after Christmas
When so many strangers shall shun the new year
A new, doleful sound when the river grows restless
As so many tears crystallize a new fear

ANTISTROPHE

Remember the grief in the streets of Sumatra
Second Krakatoa rolls in as a gale
The wave left a swathe for the here & hereafter
Of death & destruction on Golgothan scale

Remember them fleeing those huge walls of water
That snapped them & tossed them & made bloody piles
The aftermath pale, she search’d for her daughter
A sad scene repeated some three thousand miles

These scenes a portent of deadly Katrina
Soon Louisiana would suffer the same
When lives devastated by merciless water
Become bloated bodies of barbaric shame

Remember them flock from the lush Phuket beaches
As in rush’d a storm to destroy the fair bays
Lost in wreck’d Kamala street urchin beseeches
The first waves survivors the Oceans still raise

EPODE

Remember the sounds on the shores of Sri Lanka
The crunching & breaking & snapping & screams
As ships of pig-iron are ripped from the anchor
& pack’d teeming trains flung from bent, steely beams

Remember the shock when the seas were retreating
What nuclear winter on all sides was seen
Upon the horizon the dark sky now meeting
A vast wall of water of Aegean green

When in the black minute that Heaven was swelling
Nature’s awesome horror in raw, rampant state
For two-hundred-thousand the death bell is knelling
What Sayer or Vates could foresee their fate

Remember the trail of those waves of destruction
From Asia to Africa surged the wild sea
Remember, remember the Lord of the Ocean
O sing a sad song for the TSU-NA-MI

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