Celebrating Childhood

Even the wind wants
to become a cart
pulled by butterflies.

I remember madness
leaning for the first time
on the mind’s pillow.
I was talking to my body then
and my body was an idea
I wrote in red.

Red is the sun’s most beautiful throne
and all the other colors
worship on red rugs.

Night is another candle.
In every branch, an arm,
a message carried in space
echoed by the body of the wind.

The sun insists on dressing itself in fog
when it meets me:
Am I being scolded by the light?

Oh, my past days—
they used to walk in their sleep
and I used to lean on them.

Love and dreams are two parentheses.
Between them I place my body
and discover the world.

Many times
I saw the air fly with two grass feet
and the road dance with feet made of air.

My wishes are flowers
staining my days.

I was wounded early,
and early I learned
that wounds made me.

I still follow the child
who still walks inside me.

Now he stands at a staircase made of light
searching for a corner to rest in
and to read the face of night again.

If the moon were a house,
my feet would refuse to touch its doorstep.

They are taken by dust
carrying me to the air of seasons.

I walk,
one hand in the air,
the other caressing tresses
that I imagine.

A star is also
a pebble in the field of space.

He alone
who is joined to the horizon
can build new roads.

A moon, an old man,
his seat is night
and light is his walking stick.

What shall I say to the body I abandoned
in the rubble of the house
in which I was born?
No one can narrate my childhood
except those stars that flicker above it
and that leave footprints
on the evening’s path.

My childhood is still
being born in the palms of a light
whose name I do not know
and who names me.

Out of that river he made a mirror
and asked it about his sorrow.
He made rain out of his grief
and imitated the clouds.

Your childhood is a village.
You will never cross its boundaries
no matter how far you go.

His days are lakes,
his memories floating bodies.

You who are descending
from the mountains of the past,
how can you climb them again,
and why?

Time is a door
I cannot open.
My magic is worn,
my chants asleep.

I was born in a village,
small and secretive like a womb.
I never left it.
I love the ocean not the shores.


A Mirror for a Question

I asked, and they said, the branch
swathed in flame is a sparrow.
They told me my face
was the waves, the world’s face a pile of mirrors,
a lighthouse, and the sailor’s sorrow.

I arrived and the world in my way
was ink, each gesture, a phrase.
I did not know that between it and me
there was a bridge named “Brotherhood”
made of steps, prophecy and fire.

I did not know that my face
was a ship that sails inside a spark.


Concerto for the Veiled Christ

In the gate            I sat to think about what I was and what is happening to me.            I was almost tired from the roads that fly inside me.

This is how I began to write what you are reading now, reader.

The roads are still flying            but around the statue of “The Veiled Christ”            in Cappella San Sansevero—
No, the veil will not unveil itself from its meaning—
Can a single human being be born out of two wombs?

Oh, there isn’t a single star in this drink            and the moon that drowned in this glass has been pressed and choked until it became a crescent,            almost.            Why can’t I see the abyss as a green house sometimes?            Will I wait long in Munich?             And what will I do in Berlin this evening            and where does this desire come from, to mix letters whose words are not easily read?            Why do I feel that order is only a way of choking words?            The plane hasn’t arrived in Munich.            I feel I have not left Naples, that I am still mixed with it.            Hybridity or mongrelization?            At any rate, the future will be either bastardly or murderous.

As if I have not left Naples, I who let her be trampled by roads that were flying.

You read your poetry in            Galassia Gutenburg.            You are surprised that you have an audience in translation greater and better than in your original language.            Is this the beginning of mongrelization?            Pardon me, mother tongue to whom only the miseries of your children cling.

Francesco, how were you able to harmonize the Arabic rhythms with your Italian cadences            between the word that slides from the mouth of the sky to the one rising from the mouth of the earth?            Is this how the Naples roads, flying among a thicket of sparrow wings, were rescued by a citizen poet?            Or flying out of the chests of Arab immigrants who spit blood avoiding or escaping that other blood their nations spit?

” I work here. I don’t know when i will return,” said a physician.

“I write poetry in the language of the country that sheltered me,” said a young man who looked old.

“I will never return to my country,” said a young woman, almost crying.
Indeed, how miserable it is to be an Arab today.
Tell me, you dark, exiled, and banished one, in what language does the dawn of Naples whisper to you?            And you who never fail to wake each day                                    to embrace her like a child who has just awakened from sleep            each day            tell me.

And the roads were flying around the statue of the Veiled Christ.

With a nail, Christ is veiled            with a plank of wood            with a ceiling of cloud

with the dome of a chemical planet            with a voice that crosses continents

with the face of a worker not working            with corners leaking blood            with peripheries and ruins.

Oh, where does this creature come from            from each word uttered by his mouth a sword comes out striking splitting throats?            An angel at times            a human at others.

I know that the light sometimes changes into a mask worn by fingernails.
Cup, with whom will you share your bread?
The body is stubborn and the head has other bread.
Prayer, I invite you to the last supper.


The plane swims.            I swim with it over mountains of cloud.            It has begun to land.            I now imagine the flying roads of Naples also landing.            What shall I call their flying?            You are only passing, cloud that looks like a gazelle.            Nothing remains of a cloud, not even the word “remain.”             Landing.            Earth and space on this trip are a single carpet.            I am falling asleep. I slept little last night after I read an article that said, “sleep little to live long.”            The plane has landed.            I had never known the irksome face of childhood before this trip.
Another attribute to be added to roads that fly over the Mediterranean.

Who put those rocks on the heads of his waves?

The atom’s inquisition?            The blood of wars?             And this fire that leaps from tree to tree in his blessed forests            and these graves that open their depths to children and their mothers.            And this everpresent illness wearing a disappearance cloak.

Take my body, Mediterranean Sea.            Place it beside Cadmus and Dante.
Repeat after them,            Beauty is the earth’s alphabet and the alphabet is the femininity of the universe.

I think, that I, this planet of dirt,
can no longer see except with my severed limbs.

I think I am preparing to enter through the window of myth.

The sun is rising over the Levant stumbling in her old trousers. Tremble all you want now, branches of Damascene rose, celebrating the wind.