After the rain has ceased,
the timber boards and stools are back
right away in the middle of the farmyard.
Kittens and chickens play tag
among the legs of the regulars.
Careful hands relay tablecloths and tableware,
there it is again—my dear bottle of fizzy lambrusco!
Then just-toasted polenta e ciccioli turns up,
straight from the plate of the wood stove.
The sky opens,
discloses the plain beauty of the Lombard campagna.
Boscage and lea are slowly unmisted in the distance,
toward the laggard sunset.
The air is just bracing,
not bleak or ungentle.
It so happens at times the only difference
between the half-full and half-empty glass
is a radiant but guarded smile behind it,
traced around fleshy lips and red cheeks,
seeming to whisper bentornato!
The eyes meet time and again
like furtive accomplices,
more smiles slip out in the lamplight shadow,
more wine gurgles down into the scodella—
What more should one ask of life?
When no patron is left inside the osteria,
and none is outside—
tonight will tell.
First published in Poetry Nottingham (UK)
The Man Who Turned Into Himself
We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
Egocentric, neurotic, overfed, blotchy
humanoids besieged both sides of his life.
Sycophants, loathers, myrmidons, opponents—
every kind of soul that may reduce a man to despair.
So much that he commenced to fail
to single out himself from all the others.
That was his torture, his companion nightmare.
Until he understood.
He cast off garb and habits,
mutated eyes, ears, nose, tongue and pads.
He cleansed his heart of every scale,
realized there are no separate body and mind.
The diurnal specters disappeared,
the owl stopped hooting in the night.
Restored a bright and gleeful child—
he’s now playing inside the world.
And the yard he scampers about hasn’t walls—no more.
Nor does he distinguish his own outer reaches and core.
–by Alessio Zanelli
Alessio Zanelli is an Italian poet who has long adopted English as his writing language and his work has appeared in over 100 literary magazines from 12 countries, including Aesthetica, Arabesques, California Quarterly, Chiron Review, Dream Catcher, Existere, Flaming Arrows, Italian Americana, Orbis, Other Poetry, Poesia, Potomac Review, Potry Nottingham and Poetry Salzburg Review. He is the author of three collections, most recently Straight Astray, and a featured author in the 2006 edition of Poet’s Market.
Copyright© 2008 by Alessio Zanelli. All Rights Reserved