Scherzo (ma non troppo), a resuscitated old poem for IWD

Going through my papers, today I ran into a rusty, stapled trove of old poems that have never been published. It bears the date 1991, so I must have typed them with my old Kaypro, on the continuous ream of paper that you had to detach page by page.  Around that time, I was living with housemates whom I loved dearly but unfortunately listened incessantly to NPR, especially  the reporting on the Gulf War, and  I had developed a strong, class antipathy for that radio station, as can be surmised in this poem. Little did I know that I was to hear many a mellifluous voice engaging in in the act of reading poetry many years later, as standard practice in Italy (though luckily without corporate sponsorship).


 Scherzo (ma non troppo)


Don’t let anyone

read this over the air

with a mellifluous voice

and say: “This poem

has been brought to you

by Exxon”,


Don’t let a cultured,

highly sophisticated

madam of by-gone times murmur:

“Scherzo, ma non troppo”.


Let the tone be vitriolic,

virulent, viperine:

Vipera, vipera, vipera

sweet serpent of the ancient mother,

come out of the earth’s warm womb

and bite the foot

that treads heavily

on thy soil, sowing

poverty, pollution and greed.

Let the virulence of your argument

bite its rotten core.

Dispatch your Erinyes

to torment the powerful,

let their voices ring incessantly

in ears deaf to the moans of suffering.

Let your Circe come out

and transform these men

into the pigs they are.


And then, on our brooms

we shall fly

to mend the hole

in the ozone,

and then, on our legs

we shall walk

to open new paths.


Pina Piccolo (1991)