Church bells rhyme
with playground swings
The sun descends the backside
of the convent mount
Bodies discharge with soccer,
shouting, little jokes
A father bends
to wriggle shoes onto tiny feet
A hundred people do
things they’re not very good at
Review by Massimo Fantuzzi
Italy. This boot hanging at the bottom of the old continent. A boot that doesn’t quite seem to fit our feet, or nobody else’s for that matter. A boot that nevertheless seems to be a must-have (in its fridge magnet version) of any respected family-kitchen.
With few, well-timed and well-encased snapshots, the poem digs into what is precisely the bugging and mindboggling reality of Italy and takes us inside the symphony of cacophonies typical of that region. With little surprise we find that rusty swings and pointless jokes can indeed rhyme with heavenly church bells; in front of us, a perfectly balanced system populated by tiny imperfections that somehow seem to manage to fall in the right place: it would almost be irritating if it wasn’t so downright beautiful.
As tourists, we’d like to know the secret behind all this and put our hands on some souvenir d’Italie; unfortunately, all our impersonal camera lenses are able to frame is sweat, mutters, incongruences, wrong sizes and counterfeits. Might be a lesson there somewhere?
Took me over 15 years as an ex-pat to realize what this poem tells me with disarming and comforting simplicity: Italian people are still at it, doing things they are not very good at in their hundreds (some even pretend to write in English!) as their homes, squares and towns continue filling the World Heritage List.
Review by Jared Pearce
For me, there’s not much to dislike here: the konky harmony of the sounds in the first set, that the sun itself seems out of luck with the convent, that a game is some weird ejecta that then gets honed-in on the image of wrangling a foot to a shoe, all captured in the fine set at the end that, really, captures all of us everywhere.