Turn of the Century

C. Sottocornola, EIGHTIES,  Collage I

C. Sottocornola, EIGHTIES, Collage I


The 60s

The 60s rolled by
on a train
the little American boy
with his nose turned up in the air
night fell mythological
of stars in the sky
… yeah-yeah songs…
The “Knowledge” Encyclopedia
taught Geography and History
Total expectation.
frisbees circled round
in the air like UFOs
asphalt of highways
and countryside, on the outskirts
of the cities.

May 1991

Betty Boop

Betty Boop we are not heroes
we are men in line
and outside it rains anonymous gray
shop windows sales for all
Betty Boop we wait
often in a clumsy but
oh so clumsy way!
for our turn to come
Betty Boop sweet
ageless maiden
we are with you we are like you
with that tired but
patient smile, the street teems
and we Betty Boop
how many ants in the street Betty Boop
with bizarre pyjamas and striped raincoats
like yours!
How sweet Betty Boop:
You work you eat and you
diet, sometimes you worry
and sometimes you go to the cinema.
You are too distracted Betty Boop,
always have been. It is just that signs
fascinate you, cars
with their headlights, horns
and the perfume of premium gasoline.
Your little footsteps! Hesitant, shy, then
determined. We are with you, we are
like you Betty Boop, paper
dolls cut out just like that,
with fondness, and our story
is a very sweet cartoon.
We are not heroes, Betty Boop,
but men in line:

Je t’aime.

October 10, 1992

Cuban Sunday

Sunday in a hammock
among bananas and television
Cuban Sunday
sunk in the sun
even if it’s raining outside
Sunday among TV hostesses
auctions and cookery
(grate grate
and the sweet “Corriere…”,
Sunday in the pleasure
of idleness, without planning,
Sunday after the hot bath,
and shaving your beard
with nothing more to do
with nothing more to say…
Sunday with the telephone call
to a friend about this
and that
Sunday without thoughts
and without love.

October 11, 1992

Born in the U.S.A.

being there still Bruce
with that smell of beer and cheese
rolling around at the party
or on the football field
days’-old stubble
and smooth muscles
tough guys run shielded
the movie doesn’t have subtitles
(South America is there
ignobly exploited
and Mr. Ford speaks to us from stage)
in the dark shines McDonald’s
and girls outside schools
linger or dance
night sickness and raw eggs,
Rocky-style, morning energy
with bacon and eggs, or French
café au lait – glass windows
on the wild apple –
November, in the evenings
Halloween witches
dumbfounded on the thresholds
in the light of the jack-o’-lanterns,
dating with dirty games
that lack saliva
in the purple and lilac skies,
but in the background is Jack London
and the call of the wild
in the snow – low clouds
and cold in the still
limpid evening:
the hazelnut wood
flowers; sex is dirty
and hidden; dusty supermarkets
in the August afternoons,
with rollers and shopping carts
on the freeways (low
clouds, ranges like those of
Redskins), which extend to the Ocean.
The sooty and crystalline evening falls,
oh “Happy Days” from TV, Fonzie
and the redhead bring back
right now all the 50s,
but how many times in the yellow dinette
do the Beatles explode: “Close your eyes!”
Windows with the lights on inside,
outside the light blue of the evening,
hot dogs and mustard
Coca-Cola and orange juice, arguing as
in the 60s, Benjamin
Franklin says : “Early to bed,
and early to rise, makes the man
healthy, wealthy and wise”,
but I like better
Walt Whitman,
assault homosexual.
Everything is candy
in South Windsor, in the evening
respectability is a sweet
fairy tale in the evening
which here mixes with dirty
and wild rock
on the road,
oh the AFS fruit sale,
when oranges and grapefruit
from Florida were sold:
women drivers, the lady president
of the organizing committee who gave me
pocket money from the committee
in the hazelnut wood, birthdays always
on the snow with McDonald’s doughnuts…
One night I felt sick,
and slept in the living-room,
on the couch, alone like a dog,
lovingly looked after.
Shower every day,
in heaven, and school bus
with wet hair and frost
on beard, soon
the American evening.

October-November 1992

Presidential Elections

Clinton and Marilyn,
two American faces,
the dream: hitch your wagon
to a star (Ralph Waldo Emerson),
if you win in New York,
everywhere you will be
Number One,
helicopters, airplanes and taxis
let them take you boy,
the world is there, baby,
to sink into
right smack in the middle,
and to climb up higher,
ride ’em cowboy,
dollars are only
variations of the new frontier,
the myth is always there, Far West,
dirty, wild and outlawed,
there law is a struggle too, sheriff,
life, Wrath (in love),
studs like Newman
in border Motels,
lost outskirts
of a minor America,
dust, sand and stars
abandoned gas
in the ghost town
where the highways
lose themselves,
and you don’t know
where you have arrived,
but a blonde Julie London
dances, with long hoops
in her ears, she caresses
your chest. You know you’ve
won, you’ve done your best:
and deserve applause, the lowering
of the Stars and Stripes and the anthem
because as long as America is America
it is born to win
Clinton like Kennedy,
dirty neat faces
of America, the beautiful
for spacious skies
and amber waves of grain.

November 4, 1992
time 12:10 am (Italian time)

Homage to Spain

I saw you dancing
in the night of Spain
and a thousand bulls let loose
moved around Plaza Mayor,
Don Juan kissed the hands
of the girls, and the matronly women
applauded the dancers,
a fatuous fire ignited
the square, the TV cameras,
being there all was beautiful,
like a court ritual
among the wildest animals.

from Claudio Sottocornola, Turn of the Century (PIM, 2018)

Italian version HERE