So goodbye, a kiss

It was a nest
Though now young heart encouraged and air brave
breaks stretched bonds of parents’ fearing
Home will always be

They will miss you, son, yes of course they will
They will miss you soon
Why else would they have changed your name?
As Don Chiciuco laughs across the border
waking you to another dream

Study! Study as we never did
Learn the world from inside and from out
Study with the social, learn the individual
See the seedling, the germ fast flowing in the blood

So goodbye, a kiss upon the cheek
Your world grows wider as ours contracts
Our future that of which we cannot speak
Learn how to remember – we have taught you how to act

For Matteo
Matera settembre 2018

E allora addio, un bacio

Era un nido
anche se ora il giovane cuore, incoraggiato e impavido come l’aria,
rompe la corda tesa dai timori dei genitori
sarà sempre casa

Loro sentiranno la tua mancanza, figlio, sì certo
sentiranno la tua mancanza subito
Altrimenti perché avrebbero cambiato il tuo nome?
Mentre Don Chiciuco ride al di là del confine
ti sveglia ad un nuovo sogno

Studia! Studia come noi non abbiamo mai fatto
Impara il mondo dal di dentro e dal di fuori
Studia con il sociale, impara l’individuale
Vedi il germoglio, il germe che scorre nel sangue

E allora addio, un bacio sulla guancia
il tuo mondo si espande mentre il nostro contrae
il nostro futuro, quello di cui non possiamo parlare
impara come ricordare, noi ti abbiamo insegnato come agire

Traduzione di Mariella e Matteo

Not the you

Long ago I watched you stride
then slide across the canvas barefoot,
throwing paint with open hands, fingers flicking,
sometimes with your look of grave intention,
a cat coil-crouched by a low-leafed bush;
other days you groaned as if the impetus within were shocking.

Your clothes, bare skin, blending with the mural
camouflaged, anonymous, you disappeared from sight.

You asked the age-old question of invention
and I said I don’t know.
You said creation was overrated,
exposure of the truths within would trump it,
and we would find out all we could discover
if we only –
and I said I don’t know.

Some cloudy coloured streaks formed letters –
obvious initials stood out –
A, Ess, Kay, alles klar, all were clear
and could not then be unseen;
as I closed my eyes they shone
like tattoos on my wrist and arm.

Scripts I did not know soon caught my mind
characters hiding in plain sight
An author? What author?
Any author sir.
After the paint the words
and you became my writer.

You created people in your clicking mind
They fell into a checkboard scheme
Each in its place, all moves controlled
until your pen was broken
and the fences that enclosed them.

Good, good so far. Critically admired. Strong.
Characters in your past solidified from misty memories
and became new and real,
less shiny in reflected light:
that was OK, you did not seek to justify or deceive
so it was acceptable – they said.

You lived in your own world, your known world
a world you gave birth to
the world you showed us was the world you knew
what you meant in your world we knew

Later doctors showed us the nipping
the clipping shut of tiny vessels,
thinner than wires, thinner than hairs,
and slowly the closest connections failed
and the ghosts began to come alive.
Even touching failed,
sealed shut and separate,
in real life lost meaning.

You invented –
I shouldn’t call it that but do –
you invented made-up people in the present
the cat you saw sat on the mat had lost its mother
your father dead these years was now your son,
who had lost his meaning and his purpose.
You cried for your past
and did not see a future.
More tears later I hope you have forgotten.
I cannot.

You are still wearing your spattered shirt
so you can call memories as they and you were
I wipe it with a dampened cloth
but the rag smells of water, of absence of smell,
and you frown at the nothingness in anger or confusion.

On the screen grey mist spread wider
soft-edged goodness was soft-shaved away
I couldn’t believe it but
only the dark self diamond remained.

This was your real self, not the one I believed in
not the one I believed to be true.
Your true self. It said so on machines
so who was I to argue?

Once, I remember, I longed for the phone to ring –
now I welcome its silence, no news.
And then it rang once and stopped,
silent before I could fish it from my pocket or my bag.
It was your number but
you could not use it so
I knew.
And it rang again and this time I answered
and then I made the journey.

Be brave you had said
so I was.

Cry for me you had said.
So I did.

It was a different you that left me
not the you of paint and words and meanings
not the you of morning night and evening
not the you.
Not the you.
Now. Goodbye.

Talking about David (1)

Tim took a cigarette, put it in his mouth. he looked up and a tear rolled slowly down his cheek. He breathed out smoke and the words. He’s gone then. Really gone this time. Yes. Yes, he has. Tim pulled hard on the cigarette, spotlit by the streetlight. I looked at him, hurting from being unable to help. He walked away across the road, through the sudden traffic. Rock and roll man, I heard. Rock and roll.

Handcuffs, lost happiness and burns on the carpet

I wake up cold, no blankets, and my heart’s a tip.

You’ve moved out,

leaving handcuffs,

lost happiness

and burns on the carpet.


You booked in to my heart for a short weekend visit

but then put up posters

and turned radiators high.

You said not to worry,

lots of places to go and people to see,

but then you dragged in an evergreen aluminium tree

and put a selfie from Venice on the top.


So what is there left?

Your fingerprints and footprints on the gentle pink paintwork,

your footprints and fingerprints on the remnants of rugs.


I look around

and call around

but my heart’s chambers echo.

You’ve moved out,

leaving handcuffs,

lost happiness

and burns on the carpet.