On the trees
Life on the trees is not
What you might imagine. Often we can see
The leaves of the youngest
Horse chestnut trees in the park

Drying up
Without a reason, and then they crumble.
And also – crouched down on the lime trees
As they fill the streets

With sweetish scents –
We observe the aphids
Sucking sugar from the leaves
As if they were vampires.

These are evils that prompt you to think
And make us anxious. Not even the oaks
That majestically once used to cover
The river Po plane

Are left unscathed. In the severed branch
Of the English oak the decay creeps stealthily in
And corrodes them. It’s baffling
That the elm tree epidemic

Or the chestnuts’ cancerous black ink
Hasn’t infected us.
Which birds will come after us?
And what kind of trees?
(Translation by Max Mazzoli and Louise Flory )

The weight of your bodies
This garden is so teeming with life,
With you sparrows, pecking away.
Always skipping and hopping, and sometimes chasing
Each other on a layer of dry leaves,

Whilst the sound that compels you to stop
And stare in front of you
Is that of steps, and that of the weight of your bodies
That gliding over the ground don’t even rest on it.
(Translation by Max Mazzoli and Louise Flory )

The melanin that darkens the body
and makes us similar to ghosts,
scares the tawny owl away.
then we swell up our breast,
we shout “we’ve got away
once more”, we feel smug
but gently,
as if we had some cotton down our throat.
(Translation by Max Mazzoli and Louise Flory )

There are splits in the sea
that don’t heal up. Faults, fractures,
the same ones unleashed by volcanoes
and earthquakes. From there,
the most horrendous fish species spurt out.
among these noxious ones, the sheath-fish
go upstream until the torrent,
where the ducks, like radars,
plunge their beaks.
(Translation by Max Mazzoli and Louise Flory )

Frederick II and the siege of Parma
(During the siege, some noblewomen carry a silver model of the city into the cathedral as an offer to the Virgin Mary)
It will be razed to the ground.
Children and men wiped out
and we women will be abducted. The salt
profusely scattered on the earth
will turn it barren, now a blessing,
whereas we will bear the brunt of the vengeance
of becoming mothers. We implore You
with the city of silver
resting on our feet,
save us from Fredrick.

(It is said that the manuscript of De arte venandi cum avibus was taken away from the emperor just in Parma, where he was defeated in 1248)
When the emperor leaves
the military camp of Vittoria
heading to the river Taro
in order to hunt with his falcon,
the Parmesans, exhausted by the siege,
try a sortie.
Whilst the Swabian is watching
the sparrowhawks in action,
the locals slain
over a thousand soldiers.
From Santa Croce Gate
The incensed crowd pours out
into the camp and plunders it.
In the precious booty, above all,
the harem of Saracen slave women is astounding,
and so is the exotic menagerie of monkeys,
camels and pelicans. Frederick flees to Cremona,
regretting having lost his treaty on birds
and falconry.
(Translation by Max Mazzoli and Louise Flory )

The white butterflies wondered
The white butterflies wondered
what was the reason why the birds
were destroying them.
The tree trunk, sullied by smog,
was turning into a whitish cemetery.
(Translation by Max Mazzoli and Louise Flory )

Do listen to Heraclites
Do listen to Heraclites who claims
That being is eternal becoming
following a dialectic that compares the differences and
harmonises them, only a little, or partially,
just as in Pascal, the man,
nobility intertwines with destitution.
As the flame turns into ashes
so the lava emerging from the ocean
cools down becoming Earth’s crust,
gradually lowering down into geological trenches.
All is moving and changing.
The world, enormously dilated,
scatters the galaxies apart,
each one spinning around its axis,
and the sun among them,
followed by the Earth. The problem doesn’t arise –
whether evolving or vanishing:
life is not the result of forces
contrasting death. One follows the other
in more than one occasion. The fossils,
set into the rock,
are evidence of past upheavals,
after the slaughter of the dinosaurs
mammals develop in size and brain.
(Translation by Max Mazzoli and Louise Flory )

Ulysses’ Return
They say in chorus how
Do you think – Ulysses – you can escape from us –
We, who have triggered your uneasiness,
Have also set your desire on fire;
Stop pretending, you king of liars
And embrace us for eternity. Then those
Whistling voices are spreading

Until they reach the room
Where the connubial love is preserved,
And they are tormenting me,
Just me, who does not deserve it.

For twenty years I went through danger,
Ten years fighting far away for my fatherland and the remainder,
Struggling to get back. What else
Could I have done. Unfortunately, now,
A year after my uneasy return,
Reunited with Penelope, my wise queen,
I live unhappily, oppressed by these relentless sounds
Deceiving my thoughts. I love
Penelope, and more than anything else,
I adore my land – they
Deny it. I must be tired, really

Exhausted, if the emotional passion
That I feel from far away towards beloved things,
Leaves room for suspicion, as I get closer.
Perhaps there is nothing left other than rooting out
The mysterious origins of these
Ambiguous voices and subduing them; tomorrow
I’ll set off again.
(Translation by Max Mazzoli and Claire Stanfield)

Christopher Columbus towards Marco Polo
(The 12th October 1492 the island of San Salvador is sighted)
Land, land! The mariners
feel like survivors, at first sceptical,
then dancing and celebrating. In the meantime,
various species of birds
gliding over the ship
are welcoming us.
Unknown sprouts
are dangling from their beaks.

(Saint Christopher, patron of the travellers, is depicted struggling and near to drowning, in the act of carrying Jesus to the other bank of the river)
I’ve crossed the Atlantic carrying
the Christ on my shoulders. Mercy,
they would cry during the storms,
without noticing that the saviour
was among us. How would we have otherwise
got up to here?
Here where a paradise on Earth begins.

(The eclipse, which was foretold by the astronomical calendars, becomes a sort of miracle for the Indian rebels)
So naïve and savage to believe …
Who on Earth are these people
Walking whilst exposing their genitalia?
So little oriental in their gestures. I will
make the moon disappear. While
the dark makes them invisible
they bow, bewildered, to my feet.

(On his journey, Christopher reads Marco Polo’s Il Milione, and takes notes)
Sailing the other way around,
as if in a ring-a-ring-o’ roses.
I’m carrying your book in my pocket,
as a map, relic and compass. You’re waiting
for me in the Orient
where the palaces are ornate with gold and lapis lazuli.
(Translation by Max Mazzoli and Louise Flory )

Marco Polo’s Soul
How many lies
Have you told? Your soul was
Just before the threshold
Where the body changes into glowing light
And releases energy projecting us

Towards a new dimension. If
– says he, while leaving
Yet another clue – if the journey
In the midst of words is not enough,
Why don’t you set off? Try it.
(Translation by Max Mazzoli and Claire Stanfield )