Taking their cue from the novel by Gerard Durrell, poets have been invited to use their verses to look at human beings, animals and plants within a childhood landscape – be it remembered or imagined. Leila Falà analyses with lucid mercilessness the development of a relationship between sisters where jealousies and competition are the only things that remain consistent over time. With his simple and sharp verses, Flavio Scaloni creates a lively portrait of a neighbour towards whom the reader experiences a sort of familiarity. Chiara Baldini, in her brief poem, wisely captures a moment of delicate intimacy between a human being and an animal, while Antonella Troisi paints an amusing country scene that ends with a patient acceptance of the laws of nature. With the pinch of affectionate humour that is so typical of him, Paolo Polvani expresses his remorse for having killed a little scorpion whereas, in the intensely lyrical nocturne by Alessandro Silva, a boy and a snake share a moment of awareness under the light of fireflies.

Would you believe it little burden
that while on my chest
you press the grapes
(and almost for a giggle
riper grapes I drink)
the thing I want most now
is to know there is nothing more
to life than this?
The two of us in a polaroid.

Gerry

by Alessandro Silva

-Stars are worth nothing- said a snake
poking out between branches and hair.
The young man answered. -I know. When
the right moment came, on the edge
of a lawn killed by light I remained.
In puzzlement I gazed and saw you there
suffering of that same anguish,
snake. Somebody put into our eyes
the life that was doomed to us-.
Then it was an intoxication with fireflies
                    that put them to sleep.

da ‘Via Parini 7’

by Flavio Scaloni

In the opposite building
lives a sweet old lady
that everybody calls ‘the nutter’.
In the evening she drinks carton wine
and screams out of the window
‘Biiiiiiitch!’
‘Biiiiiiiitch!’
‘Biiii, biiii, biiiiiitch!’
banging one hand
on the wooden shutter.
They called the doctor
who gave her sedatives.
Then she died.

The fox

by Antonella Troisi

Logs piled up in the farmyard
are there to be turned into firewood
an old lady with weak and awkward legs
rests on them and slowly sits down
spreading grains of wheat all around
where chickens and hens rush

there is an uninvited guest
a fox with disturbing eyes
“my little ones need to eat”
- she seems to mean -
and in a flash
she grabs a hen and runs away

there’s no time to scream
there’s nothing I can do
when hunger is at work
we can only realize
that one egg is gone

Epicedium for an innocent little scorpion

by Paolo Polvani

Sweet little scorpion that wandered
confused under my bed, I celebrate you here,
I write a brief memory, I give you an epicedium.
You were ill-advised as you ignored my advice
to move further, to the corridor of the ancient monastery
that accommodated you, accommodated me.
I soothed you with my voice, paid you a compliment:
a real marvel your polished black.
I prayed you to go out, I even handed you that newspaper
so that you could get on it, and go out, in the dark
corridor of the monastery. But you were confused,
stupid with all those attentions, in the end it was
the coward I am that won, your beauty
humiliated under a heel. Trust me, cohabitation would
have inhibited my sleep, which was nevertheless restless,
I feared the arrival of your brothers, your girlfriend
in tears, an assemblage of scorpions
gathered to get back at me for this. That’s the way it went,
a poem is not enough to return the joys your life
fed on, a poem is not enough
to delete the stain of cowardice.

Sisters

di Leila Falà

Four years old.
For her so alone they thought a sister
to give her as a favourite game
and so difference was born. Stories
of power and jealousy. Beloved
betrayed disappointed sisterhoods.

A pram suspiciously wheeled
ingenuous and simple the toy
at once revealed in its imperfections
little girls can’t control their jealousies
they conceal them over time.

It digs galleries under houses
her unchecked bitterness.
She throws it back in games of skill
spoils her own kindness.
She suffers without knowing it. Ungoverned
she gets lost in trickles of envies.
She digs trenches of distance
constructions of pain not protections.

FOTOMETRIA

I would suck your pupils with slow,
rotary motions: small marbles
to swallow

In tune with the title, referring to a technique used in astronomy to measure the electromagnetic radiation of astronomical objects, this book by Giusi Montali depicts a sort of sci-fi universe. Through six sections, this world is built by a language that since the beginning defines itself as “acquitted”, most probably of the charge of being invented, a convention. The author’s voice, preferably concentrated in unusual places (the belly, the navel), is organic, strictly connected to the body, which is the subject of the book. Caught in a light /darkness dynamics that is not carried out by means of oppositions but develops like the spiral on the cover image until it reaches an oxymoronic identity (the black light), the body is absorbed in the observation of its own expansion, noting the increase of temperature that will provoke its shining disintegration. After the ascertained spatial relationships have been cancelled – the broken proxemics – the I-body tends to melt with a you-body and with the surroundings, that are involved in the same process (the town comes apart and explodes). There is a steady desire to take off one’s skin, to empty veins and arteries, until only the bones are left, which in turn will be scattered. Terms referring to disintegration are obsessively repeated (explode-burst-melt-come undone-come apart-empty-open up-dilate-crumble-part-loose). But it is precisely through dismemberment that the body tests its own composition and guides the reader to perform a sort of anatomical self-enquiry focused on areas that are not conventionally – especially in poetry – deputed to sensory, or erotic experiences.

Giusi Montali, Fotometria, Prufrock 2013

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