One Indian file resists the advance of pylons and smokestacks,
right at the bottom of the hollow between the main embankments.
Forsaken sentries captive at home,
ashy relics of earth, air, water and fire.
This land has forgotten that once it teemed with countless arrays.
They know and strive to last till worms return to claim what’s theirs.
Of Leaps And Old Booksellers
Did you notice the limper?
It could leap, but hardly walk.
And the beached whale?
What a disgrace! It wanted to be a shell,
for someone to pick up and hold in their hand.
So it leapt onto the shore.
How unfair this world turns out to be.
And Einstein? What did Einstein say?
That space and time are relative?
Inertial observers? What do you know of inertia?
Whoever grasped anything of all that?
Life is made of leaps:
those of faith and those of rashness.
See, in the end the limper is not that disadvantaged,
and whales not that ingenuous,
and Einstein not so beyond comprehension.
Actually, they weren’t fond of leaps at all.
But we’d better set off now,
for we’re not limpers,
and we’re not whales,
and we’re not relativists.
The old bookseller is waiting for us in the backshop,
you know how he is: he doesn’t stand latecomers,
gets angry for the slightest thing.
Yes, he can really catch fire under water.
He’ll give us some more dusty book to read,
who knows, maybe on limpers,
or disorientated whales,
or half-crazed theoreticians.
He never gives us books for common people.
Come on, let’s go, are you not curious?
No, don’t tell me! You’re afraid of the old bookseller?
Of what may finish in your hand?
You’re pretty fit,
and it’s only a little leap.
The Road Eater
Knight’s heart, blade’s tenacity, breaker’s rush—
crammed into a puny body, wan like wrinkled fruit.
Furrows of thousands of miles from soles up to forehead.
Each square inch of skin tells of dusty roads, impossible paths,
snow and slush, salt-filled and glacier-skimming thin air.
Each face wrinkle bears breath-sucking ascent’s and
knee-cracking descent’s stretches, timeless and
spaceless days, without a stop and without a home,
full but of solitude. Unending lengths under blazing sun,
through soupy fogs greedy for effort and sweat, by the clearest
freeze’s sharp and shimmering light and the most stifling
sultriness’s fuzzy glow. Past this and more his short
steps have pushed him in front of the ultimate
challenger. There where the roads end, where he’d
anyway arrived whatever route he might have taken. For
the only defiance he could have never avoided. And what seas
and mountain ranges, steppes and deserts, asphalt rivers
and intricate mazes, hailstorms and rushing squalls
couldn’t do, neither could his breath’s draining
rhythm nor his pace’s obsessive beat—a little cloud
could. Pure and harmless, but fixed and non-bypassable,
up there, just a touch higher than the summits in the distance,
to filch the setting sun’s feeble late beams. At the last the
knight loses the single combat, the blade snaps off,
the breaker slackens and looks for some easier
landing place on the even shore. The little foam left
disappears from view in the sand. The cloudlet dissolves.
— by Alessio Zanelli
Copyright ©2012, by Alessio Zanelli. All Rights Reserved.
Alessio Zanelli, Italian, has long adopted English as his literary language and his work has appeared widely in magazines from 12 countries including, in the USA, California Quarterly, Concho River Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Italian Americana, Potomac Review and World Literature Today. His fourth collection, Over Misty Plains, was published by Indigo Dreams in early 2012. He is the poetry editor of Private Photo Review and the Italian Stanza Representative for the Poetry Society of London.