…therefore let’s go back to the shadow of the branch
Or let’s follow the sharp scent of drunken flowers
Next to the stone, an improvised altar,
To cross the talkative time of silences
To forget the gossip and the evil eye
Before an indifferent autumn
Among the thorny shrubs and the wingless leaves
And a thread of dust
Where the lowest wound will find fulfilment
In listening to the solemnity of life
Where the playing of words began
As for the Phoenician sailor
In the lament of the waves
Dull eyes for a day of naivety
Left on lips that retain a marine flavour
Or an unwitting and ignorant cardamom thief
Alongside the story of peace and olive trees
Shortly before the martyrdom
When sky and sea are of infinite indigo.
But I can see amanuenses in white robes
And the wax melting into milky smoke
With knots inlaid with the thread of memory
And we will sing to fertilise the earth
And to remember or to forget
The islands and the immense sea.
I wonder if there is enough oxygen
For the breathing of our bodies
In this little room where we’ve been sleeping
For a few new days or perhaps forever.
We’re still lying parallel – this time from south to north
While previously we lay from west to east
In another latitude that had a hint of eternity.
Another house and another situation, by chance.
The head looking towards the feet
And getting deluded that this is the direction.
What an error! What a horror! believing in “forever”,
When not even graves are forever.
And among the many doubts,
a question continues to haunt us:
“Is God really happy?”
If I were to follow the anxiety of the wind
As the only means of direction,
And abandon the compass that embroiders the perfect circle;
If I were to ignore the colour of the moss on the trees in the wood,
Or forget the sun’s trajectory;
Or Discard the oscillating magnetic needle,
And throw the astrolabe into the sea…
And then just wait…
Next to the undulating water,
I would trust in the canvases that are filled with draught.
And then it would be Grecale to take me,
With the signs of the past and the old sage’s words,
The philosophers from the sunny squares,
The weapons of the ancient soldiers in mottled sandals.
Libeccio would blow with red dust
From the burnt dunes of the solitary desert.
And Scirocco would have the taste of algebra
And a memory of enchanting lullabies
Of an inscrutable sadness,
Leaving just the feeling
Of a soft blowing breath on the skin,
And a light, gentle pressure on the eyelids
Lowered by an impending sleep.
THE OLD TAILORING ROOM WITH A LAMENT
Time is a passing residue that slips away.
The before, the after, the always, senseless shades
when it’s time to weigh anchor and vanish
in a puff of smoke that fades away,
through a forest or over the sea,
or from the top of a chimney on the street.
The photographs of a before that no longer exists,
yet it lingers in our memory, as if it were now.
You are here, and you are no more. Your profile again
surrounded by the space that contains us.
And we are as empty as we did not think
it would ever be possible.
I imagine you resting in that room
where for years
fabric remnants were lying around;
A large window on a noisy road,
and now drowned by the silence of your blind gaze.
And I still see the ghost of a sewing machine,
needles and pins and giant scissors on a desk
and threads of every colour,
which I thought I had forgotten;
they come back from afar to keep you company.
Even them, they are here, we are here, with you,
even just for a moment,
even when you’re gone.
Everything is just borrowed,
as well as love and time,
everything must be returned.
Just Before Spring
The colours of an undressing goodbye,
In days left behind in the winter
Inside empty writhing shapes.
Which used-up words now remain
To counter time and its discomfort?
Now that building is your duty,
When the body and the images crumble.
Max Mazzoli was born in Italy in 1963. He graduated in London (University College London), then in Cambridge (Cambridge University) with a thesis on Pablo Neruda. He has both British and Italian citizenship.
For almost thirty years he has taught Italian Language and Literature, English Language and Literature, Critical Thinking, Philosophy, and English for Academic Purposes in London and Cambridge, in sixth-form colleges, at universities and in Pre-master’s courses.
He has published eight collections of poems by Book Editore and Ladolfi Editore, four of which are bilingual (Italian and English). Some of his verses have been read on Rai Uno in the Zapping program.
He lives between Parma and Cambridge.
With Book Editure:
In La Minore (In A minor) (1989)
• Dissepolta Polvere, (Unearthed dust) (1992); (Citterio award, City of Lodi 1992)
• Nella Flagranza dell’Istante (In the flagrance of the instant) (2005)
• L’altra Metà del Trmpo (The Other Half of Time) (2007)
• The Bosphorus Poems – Poesie del Bosforo – bilingual edition – (2009). (Excellence award at Sandomenichino 2022)
• Prima ch’io ti tocchi – Before I may touch you – bilingual edition – (2012)
• Oltre Questi Luoghi – Beyond These Places – bilingual edition – (2014), winner of the Portus Veneris Thematic Special Prize at the international literary competition, “Lord Byron Porto Venere Golfo dei poeti” (2023).
With Ladolfi Publisher:
• Il Segno e la Parila (1000 versi) / Signs and Words (1000 lines) (2022)