Barbara Ortelli Pin condenses the dehumanisation in a Nazi concentration camp in the symbol of the mould, the shame for one’s state of being which nevertheless does not empty nor annihilate humanity but temporarily covers thoughts, dreams and memories. Also in the lines by Alfonso Tramontano Guerritore humanity is covered, here by the darkness of a cold winter night, which erases the details of the bodies from the sight. But the last lines are surprisingly sweet, thanks to the image of the flower which can be found also in the poem by Davide Cortese, a long prayer conveying the resistance of those who decide to stay human, in spite of being besieged by death. In this poem nature supports and comforts, whereas in the harsh and concise lines by Eleonora Tarabella it is the music which plays this role, being able to keep the players alive in spite of their sinister function in the camp. But the true redemption, the hope somehow winding through all the poems, reaches its peak in the haiku by Rita Stanzione, where for the third time we find a reference to a flower, in this case being one of the different shapes taken by the free souls which defeat the fate of the bodies.

A mud-coloured layer
wrapped my head,
it was cold and wet.

It was mould.

It was like a blanket
to thoughts
and dreams.
It was like a shield
to memories.

It was mould
that turned my face grey
where winter would mirror
where time would stop
until next spring
maybe.

It was mould,
a wound among wounds.

It was the shame of living.

I’m now asking to learn to forgive

by Davide Cortese

I’m now asking to learn to forgive
from the land offering its wound to the light
and never be afraid of anything
as comes naturally to the smallest flower.
I’m now asking to look a bit like the sky
which hosts the flight of the hawk and the fly
and keeps the millennial secret of the butterfly.
I’m asking to rain and make a rainbow.
I’m asking to learn from the wind
how to move among people harmlessly
as it does among the branches of the almond tree.
I’m asking to always be able
to look into the eyes of the people
and in the iris of the one I’m afraid of
to see love walking like a god
on the surface of my fear.
I’m asking to be able to smile in the night
and put cherries, just like earrings,
to the ears of death.

If these are men

by Rita Stanzione

ashes are flying-
and even dreams are burning
for absent dawns

these barbed lives-
in the red of the wind
all the free souls

from mud and snow-
the purple coloured flowers
elsewhere reborn

the icy gazes-
from little flames in the sky
immortal trails

Musicians

by Eleonora Tarabella

Do play some violin
Hava nagila
facilitate the count for the roll call.
There, standing in the courtyard
Hava nagila
it’s better not to look at them
but play.
Do play, musicians, play,
Hava nagila
the cold hand
that moves the bow
keeps you still alive.
Maybe even tomorrow

It was such a night

by Alfonso Tramontano Guerritore

It was such a night
that the eyes could not be seen
somebody had
wiped them from the faces
and the legs as well
they were lost
on the glass marbles
amidst the fog of a very long winter
when at the end of that cold
they would tell us
any order
they would pick us up
from the ground in the fields
with no air
and no body
under the dead grass
at the bottom of the trenches

this is what we were
a new kind of flower

Variazioni sul tema del tempo

by Claudia Zironi

“What is a sphere?” – maybe something that doesn’t find its time”: so it says at the beginning of this book, which may be considered as a journey in search of time. A route following various directions, condensed in the titles of the sections, composed of the Greek word kronos and different prefixes. The uncommon philosophical concept ucronia (alternative history), referring to one or more historical events occurring differently, is followed by eterocronia (heterochrony), a biological term meaning a different development of organisms which are akin from an evolutionary point of view; then comes sincronia (synchrony), which in the language of science refers to facts happening at the same time, followed by discronia (jet lag). Side by side with these terms belonging to sector-specific languages, we find a word which is not included in dictionaries, eucronia, meaning a good time, whereas the last title, ur-cronia, is a neologism coined by the author with the prefix ur-, which in German suggests something primeval and in Chaldean means ‘fire’, the protagonist element of the last section. The meticulous organisation of the work reveals the intention to carry out a scientific classification of the relationships that can be established with time subverting its supposed linear development, as suggested by the reference to the sphere, which appears in two poems. Memory, in particular, denies the concept of past itself because it allows us to live past moments again and again. There is also an imagined time full of experiences which are no less intense than the ones we live in the so-called reality. The supposed borders of our existence—birth and death—flake off allowing us to go backwards to the beginnings of the Earth and forward beyond the last day of the world, through possible rebirths postulating the coexistence of parallel timelines; while sometimes past and future meet in the brief space of a few mighty lines. The frequent use of the first person plural and of the simple past plunge the lines into a mythical—sometimes epic—time, reinforced by the use of a high-level language and a refined musicality (in accordance with the word variations in the title of the book). This exploration, resembling almost a fight with time, draws upon different branches of knowledge—philosophy in the first place and, among others, physics, mathematics, statistics, anatomy—to use them as tools for knowing human experiences. These experiences appear three-dimensional, i.e. defined by three main dimensions: besides the crucial one of time, there are space and love. Suggested by the assonance with the titles of the sections, which recall the concepts, featured in this book, of utopia and dystopia, the space is evoked through geographical references which outline a journey around the world—from Finland to Santiago, from Chile to the Mariana Trench—and undefined landscapes, such as lands covered in snow or motionless stones from the beginnings of the Earth, and the stelle stelleggianti (starring stars). But it is the dimension of love which, echoing Dante, prevails as the motor of everything: these poems always tend towards beloved people (friends, real or virtual sons and lovers, and inspirational poets and thinkers) and the poet lays her caressing or blazing eyes on things, on the smallest details of nature, on weather elements (especially the wind and the ever-present rain). There is a great vitality, an inexhaustible passion which overflows Claudia’s poetry and makes it always direct and captivating in spite of the many layers of meaning and inputs for research that can be detected only through attentive and repeated readings. A vitality which drives the poet to bravely reach the peaks and not to be afraid—as Paolo Polvani points out in his acute afterword—of dancing on the edge of the cliffs.

Claudia Zironi
Variazioni sul tema del tempo
Versante ripido, 2018