A Necklace of Rejected Poems

As I was going through my admittedly super messy files, I found poems I had rejected over the years or that friends had advised me to reject from collections I never published. They are both in English and Italian, reflecting my split linguistic identity. They span over a 20 year period. One, the last one, in Italian, I don’t even know if I wrote it, or if it is somebody else’s production which I might have translated. It is strange not to be able to retrieve what feelings might have guided a poem you wrote. It’s like being confronted with a ghost  whose presence you cannot assess as being either a consolation or a menace. It is unmooring to have lost touch with a part of your identity in such a definitive way, like not being able to remember what you knew or felt up to the age of three. It’s probably the same feelings of unease we feel in front of a person affected by Alzheimer who is safely ensconced in his/her world to which we have no access. For the last  poetic fragment, I can identify as a potential writer of the first lines but then the poem develops in ways that don’t feel like something I could have written. Could it have been a writing exercise? If anyone can identify those lines, please let me know, so I can rest at peace.

On this March 8, 2015, after these very confusing weeks that have marked the year since its beginning, many of us feel like we are on the cusp of something big whose outlines we are not able to make out. Somehow, finding these unwanted poems feels like some sort of omen (but of what?). Strangely all these odd pieces, the ones that at some point I must have felt needed censoring, as I look at them today, seem to collectively reflect my current state of mind. So this time I won’t reject them, I will embrace them and see what happens. Since I am often accused of wearing my feelings on my sleeve, and since this is a blog and by definition it has somewhat of a diary nature to it, I thought it may be interesting to make a necklace of them and wear them right here, maybe someone will find them of use, or perhaps write me to say how off the wall I am.


Of bales and bears


Rolled up in a bale of numbness,


from the sharp edges of the world,

my feelings lay in ambush,


wail, yelp, screech

on impact.


Don’t unravel the hay

and expose them

to the cold wind of gaze.


It’s best that these bears

sleep their deep winter slumber.


Unwanted Visitors


Knock….Knock… Who’s there?

Your feelings!

We have escaped

though you stored us

deep in a well, so far and tight

we could have been Cheops mummy

in his Secret Chamber,

you swathes us so

we looked like those

poor Della Robbia babies,

and then, you hypocrite,

you drenched us with

unguent and balsam

so we wouldn’t smell bad.

But, nanee, nanee, nanee

we got away.


You held your jaw so tight

you discovered you had

a Temporal Mascellary Joint

otherwise known as TMJ,

and it was so unyielding

it went into a spasm

and you had to wear a neck brace for a month.

But we wouldn’t let up.

So you went to a chiropractor first

for the bones,

later to one for the soul

trying to get us adjusted,

to smooth us out.


And when that didn’t work,

you started writing poems,

tried to dress us up

to be put on display,

but listen, girl,

have we got news for you,

we are bad, we are nasty,

and we are here to stay,

and we know that sooner or later

you’ll have to open that door

and let us out.



Dido, my sister

Release me,

Dido, from your space of sorrow

Release me,

A beggar on earth,

Who has once glanced at

Treasures untold

Caressed them with greedy eyes

Just to see them gallop away.


With movements

Passed down from


I unbraid my feelings

Let them hang down in mourning

Wear dark glasses

Lest passer-bys be swallowed

By my void,

Walk about like a ghost

The mark of Dido



Stop me, sweet sister

Carry away the wood

From my pyre

Blow out the flames

Meant to incinerate

A fleeing hero

With guilt.


Don’t let me

Make a spectacle

Of my severance,

Heal the wound.

Don’t rub the salt of revenge

Into my seething being.







Come una bestia sinuosa si muovono i confini



Come una bestia sinuosa

si muovono i confini,

viscidi, sibilanti,

a tradimento seminano

il ferro spinato.


Duri uomini in fucile,

radar dalle orbite radioattive,


si stagliano contro il cielo,

mentre, appiattiti,


altri, guardinghi,

aprono brecce.


Le spine, spesse volte,

fan straripare

torrenti di sangue rosso

che la terra trangugia avida,

arida di vita.

Questa linfa

poi si raccoglie

in cactus sgargianti:

gli altri, gli appiattiti

ne sorbiscono:



di pelli,

di lingue,

di culture,

di storie,

poi, così affilate,


di carne e ossa


a smagliare

reticolati imbandierati.   (1982)



Giovanni, who could never be a kid


Giovanni bundling lettuce

your mother will sell at the market,

12 years old and with a family

on your shoulders,

past is the time for games,

past is the time for lightness

and playing tricks on donkeys.


Nonno wields his word

but Cummari Micuzza

wields her heart

multiplying it in little pieces,

like the dumplings

she fries and fries and gives away

to starving passersby

commenting on good smells.


Carmela and the cherry tree


You cherry-tree – me Carmela

swinging on the top branches

pushed by the wind’s capable hands.


Six year old untamed

by the laws of propriety

-here in the country, we do things

a little different-,

let the muscles I get

from kneading bread

help me climb to the top

to see who I am.




Big Sur


Enjoy the crashing sound,

the frail, lacerated equilibrium

of the tall wave reaching its top,

and then crumbling down

like a stale house of marzipan

pushed by naughty little fingers.


Sugary white foam poisoned by us,

unruly secretion

of a half live organism,

repeating to itself

a reassuring, primordial lullaby.