OPEN POEM TO THE VENICE BIENNALE FROM THE GHOSTS OF “BARCA NOSTRA”

 

OPEN POEM TO THE CURATORS OF THE 58th VENICE BIENNALE

FROM THE GHOSTS OF THAT RELIC YOU SHOULD NOT DARE CALL

“OUR BOAT”

 

A gust of wind

The breath of a clipped wing

that failed to push the sail

 

 

Yes, WE DID LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES

as we lay amassed – the bottom 374 of us

in the hold

Layer

upon layer of ebony

black, amber, yellower

grayer, coconut, whiter

at the top, following

the Law issued

from the Center

of the Old World

 

Barely breathe,

mustn’t talk

held our tongues

for two days

so then upon the new shore

we could free it

in song

 

Fishermen of men

had come looking for us

as we disconsolately sat

fresh of deserts:

for the holy books of the Law

hath decreed

that we from the Southern Hemisphere

could not fly

couldn’t pass the port of the sky

Water, not Air- was to be

our Element

 

So our mothers sewed a little red pouch

and poured in a pinch of Earth

our land

lest we forget

and never come back

 

Some of us were held tight in an embrace

a sorrowful leave taking

Others, we snuck away under the cover of dark

lest they chain us

to that accursed land

Never would they have allowed us

to go

 

The seams of our jackets laden

with rolled up photos, seeds

pieces of the Coran, charms,

report cards,

letters

address books

Proof that we existed

had connections

could even thrive

 

And the fishermen of men

who glimpsed us sitting by

the side of the road

where it forks

between Life and Death

told us theirs was no inflatable plastic dinghy

but a respectable, seaworthy

if rusty

fishing vessel from the Horn:

for years its nets had dragged in tunas

from the fish rich

Red Sea

And was now ready to drag us

to a new Cape of Good Hope

marked by the North Star.

 

And so we went, curators

with no cure

for our definitive malady

you who display

this Object of Beauty

as the Big ships sail on by

towering over your Arsenal and Gardens

A sure promise and reminder

that your City too

soon shall sink

 

How dare you

Curator from a landlocked nation

call it “Nostra Barca”- Our Boat

this sacred relic of ours

leaving us there naked

next to crane

not a single word spent on us

out of the thousands

you bestow on the plastic figments

sitting in your pavilions

paining to recreate reality?

 

We weren’t sailing

through a mythological Sea the color of wine

but a transparent one the color of Amnesia and Denial

Imbued with our screams

as our breath was knocked out

 

Some of you wistfully claim

that pain can generate Art

and that Art can awaken the conscience

we don’t ask you to provide an ornate case

for our Sacred Relic,

but demand a measly fiberglass panel

between us and the Viewers and their selfies

with words not drenched in your theories

but shards of our stories

to stab the World As It Is.

 

Pina Piccolo, after accidentally bumping into the ship while visiting the Biennale on May 26, 2019. I was one of those hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world who did not buy the catalog, which devotes a few words to the “exhibit”, nor did i see the press release issued by the curator on the subject. Apparently when confronted with the evidence that people were not understanding the significance of the ship being exhibited the curator  dismissed the suggestions that he provide even a brief explanation by saying it had already been done in a press release.