Backwards

Poems by piero scaruffi
TM, ®, Copyright © 1998 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

  1. Tinfoil Dialogue
  2. Under the Overcast Skies of Resurrection
  3. Ghosts Oratorio
  4. Because I Know the Answer
  5. Blood Tide
  6. The Blossoming of the Leeches
  7. Avalanche
  8. Astral Swoon
  9. Banquet
  10. Night Dust
  11. Missa Laica
  12. Dialogue of the Mirror Images
  13. Ghost Towns
  14. Finale

(La traduzione italiana fatta da Corrado Cantelli si trova alla sua pagina).

Backwards, backwards
makes more sense.

I don't know why this poem
was left unfinished


1. Tinfoil Dialogue

                                 Please do not answer me.

                                    Time challenges us
                            ever since we have been speaking
                            this language we don't understand.

                                       We, unborn,
                                  like water evaporating
                              to prove our invisible lives,
                               flow away through our names
                            out of our range, beyond the edge,
                                a mistake that will never
                                 turn into a resolution.

                                     You'll find out
                              I never told you my real name,
                               and you'll pull the trigger.

                                   Because I know that
                                   all the shadows that
                                      rise from you
                                 will some day fade away.

                            Let us not speak of this anymore,
                                 it will never come back.

                                  All the time this echo
                                 has trailed back to us,
                             has been expecting us to listen,
                                like two deaf eternities.

2. Under the Overcast Skies of Resurrection

2.1.

          The cataclysm has smashed
          our little huts of time,
          and we stand on the thresholds,
          hesitating to decipher
          the wind that blows its way back
          through this endless tinkling
          and swinging of cobwebs.

2.2.

          The giants of oblivion
          carry us inside
          an endless memory.

2.3.

          We are lulled in the twin ceremony.

2.4.

          Let us wait
          where there is no beyond.

2.5.

          Time blows through us
          from birth to death
          feeding darkness with light.

2.6.

          We try to explain
          until we realize
          that nobody knows
          if we really happened.

2.7.

          And the sense of these things
          we discuss today changes everyday;
          but their sense never exceeds ours.

2.8.

          Somnambulism and plot reversals:
          we are crawling with darkness
          along the trail of the quicksands.

2.9.

          We drew our maps
          for fear of getting lost.
          Still we disappear,
          and still we can't stop drawing
          in finer and finer detail.

2.10.

          Most of us have already died.

2.11.

          We lose meaning
          as we try to understand.
          We burn till we die,
          like all stars.
          As we learn,
          we know less and less.

2.12.

          We trace back our fears to the sunset.
          Then a desert flower whispers
          the unspeakable.
          And we understand
          that the two halves of the sky
          revolve around us;
          that we are time.

2.13.

          Only the clocks are alive.
          The loneliness of their ticks
          grows in each of us,
          silent marchers of the caravan,
          edge of the tide.

2.14.

          Do we think
          or are we thought ?

2.15.

          We were told
          to inhabit the ruins
          and we took shelter
          under these eyelids.

          We touched this face
          like a braille book
          and soon discovered
          the writing in the light.

3. Ghosts Oratorio

                                    The loop broadens,
                                  pain melts like snow.
                                   We follow her eyes'
                                 drifting towards death,
                              lingering in the lust of coma,
                                  dangling a few minutes
                                     until they relax
                                      in a deepened
                                         timeless
                                          color.

                             A sand of fever stings my eyes,
                                  the slaughter is over,
                             twisted bodies lie on the steps,
                            the light finally returns to them,
                                      returns alone.
                                    The sound of death
                                still tinkles in the mind.

                                   The thunder flashes
                                  over the next victim.
                             Her amused smile can be mistaken
                                for what we already know:
                            the restless amnesia of the ocean
                              trapped in the mounting noise
                                of the overcrowded beach.

                                    Time will resume.

4. Because I Know the Answer

4.1.

          "I am both the listener,
          who listens to the loud cry
          of the universe,
          and the speaker,
          who turns the tail
          and undoes the past".

4.2.

          "I nod to the question,
          whispered behind the curtain
          in a foreign language.
          Each word echoes in the mist
          and drops, each word
          a stain on my life."

4.3.

          "My two minds collapse
          one against the other".

4.4.

          "I threw the rod
          with no bait
          other than myself".

4.5.

          "Nausea of memory receding
          to the past.
          Its dark lattice of monsters
          is dripping a star
          right into my eye."

4.6.

          "I am a maze
          of nameless decaying corpses."

4.7.

          "Adrift in the cracks of memory,
          I observe the endless fall
          of the feather of an extinct bird,
          spinning a route of faint screams."

4.8.

          "The wind of silence
          has wiped away the tears
          from my cheeks
          like dead leaves.
          And I am what remains."

4.9.

          "Drunk in the hurricane,
          I breath the cobweb,
          my life's dream,
          each thread a reflex
          bleeding soft from the mirror,
          a silence forever sinking
          into depths of eternity,
          a shadow forever climbing
          foams of woollen light".

4.10.

          "The footsteps are not behind me,
          but ahead. I am not eluding,
          but following".

4.11.

          "Through the shining gates of chaos
          I enter the vast cemetery of the cosmos.
          Walking in a spiral from the edge to the center,
          I stop on each grave of a god, on each heaven."

4.12.

          "The beam is traveling
          towards the target,
          leaving behind all that matters.
          It is filling a void
          I was supposed to inhabit."

4.13.

          "I am sitting on the border
          preparing to leap - all my life
          I've been creeping nearer and nearer"

4.14.

          If you never dream
          you'll never die.

4.15.

          "Unfastened, I fall back
          into the waiting arms
          of my empty grave."

4.16.

          You feel like a clown
          and they let you die.

4.17.

          "I dive blind and breathless
          down in the sand of twilight
          struggling to recollect
          the last words I had uttered
          in the strum of the universe."

4.18.

          "I question myself
          while staring down,
          aware of vertigo,
          aware of catastrophe,
          in the shadow of time:
          Am I God ?"

4.19.

          "And I almost turn in silence
          to listen to myself speaking
          as if these meaningless words
          were being uttered by others".

5. Blood Tide

5.1.

          We, twice mirror images, bridges
          between our tiny islands of silence.

5.2.

          The long serpent of our words rattles to the moon
          but life is faster than any thought.

5.3.

          We are two ?
          Who are you ?
          You who steal half of
          my everything ?
          are you afraid
          of my living;
          or of my dying ?

5.4.

          Words come less and less often to the lips.

5.5.

          His hands lazily waving goodbye
          in a moon current of vertigos
          to the crowd of phantasms
          hanging from the skies
          over the stinking ruins of the sun.

5.6.

          Your eternity, twenty billion years ago,
          was what it is now. Mine is what yours
          never was.

5.7.

          His smile rushing feverishly away
          into waves of sunshine haze,
          like an extinguished lantern
          in the nightless mirror maze
          of the underwater ghost city,
          wavering from dream to dream
          beyond the edge of the maelstrom.

6. The Blossoming of the Leeches

6.1.

          Like footprints of time
          the roman numerals on the wall sun-dial.
          And the arrow melts in the target.

6.2.

          A sapphire tattoo is cruising the eclipse.

6.3.

          Swallows carve their spirals
          over the glittering of the dome,
          as they turn towards the open sea
          in a tide of crystals and fire.

6.4.

          Dancing octopuses on a midnight zeppelin bleed to death.

6.5.

          Dreams happen on the carved surface
          of an ancient coin.

6.6.

          The kite plunges down into the rainbow.

6.7.

          The iceberg recedes
          like a scar
          that is healing.

6.8.

          Maimed gladiators in the empty arena.

6.9.

          In spite of this,
          life, the jail with no walls, but a noise
          in the silence of eternity,
          still radiates.

7. Avalanche

          I sink into the stale dephts
          of the inscrutable world of a snail;
          into the innumerable flea-images
          that stain the mirror blood-purple;
          into the multitude of dark syllables
          flowered thousands of years ago
          and still haunting like bats
          the caverns of my mind;
          into the burnt fall of this age,
          more and more the beginning
          of undeceived forgetfulness;
          into the sparkling diaphanes of twilight;
          into the watery whispers of sea-moons;
          into waves of faint memories;
          into my own shadow,
          again and again into the tempest
          of my minuscule selves;
          into the luminous amphitheater of tidal skies
          (rattling cadaverous smiles
          scrawl fates with midnight squills);
          into the opulence of sudden gusts
          silently flitting from bell to bell;
          into the gigantic whimpers
          of chilled faggots in the boreal fire.

8. Astral Swoon

                                 The subject of this poem
                                        is itself.
                                Like the convulsed clutch
                                    of a drowning man.

                                  Darkness surrounds me.
                                     I am a blind man
                                 reading the Braille book
                                     of the universe;
                                    a clown, perhaps,
                                    babbling his jokes
                                  in a deserted circus;
                                a grinning skeleton clung
                              to the helm of a ghost vessel
                                 adrift in the hurricane.

                         I perceive the transparence of the world
                      changing to the light in which I perceive it.

                                    I perceive myself
                                 at the end of the trail,
                                     folded in fire,
                                    my mind decomposed
                                 into primitive thoughts,
                                     my time receding
                                  to infinite childhood.

                                 I am silent again, dumb.
                                   Where did the echoes
                                  of all my words fall ?
                                    I no longer exist.

                                Or, maybe, I didn't exist
                                   in the first place,
                                 and that's why this poem
                                   was left unfinished.

9. Banquet

                    The ceiling mirror is dripping guests on the table
                      that was set for dinner several centuries ago.
                             Dimmer and dimmer they fade out
                      before reaching the memory of this nightmare.

                                         Reality
                                     slowly coalesces
                                  in a bright unfocused
                               image of this glass of wine,
                                    each little bubble
                              of the foreground, boundless,
                           blossoming in a universe of its own.

                                        And still
                                    shapes and shades
                                     of living bodies
                                    surround my glass,
                                     swim through my
                                   demented drowsiness
                                   like revolving gears
                                    and pulsing lights
                               of a disintegration gadget.

10. Night Dust

                                    Sculptures of foam
                               stand still over the cliffs,
                              like obscene graffiti littered
                              over the plaster of this vast
                              expanding shell of moonlight.

                                         Tomorrow
                                wet wreckage will surface
                                    as the sand dunes
                                will be swept by the wind.

11. Missa Laica

                         There is no future in the spider's web.
                       But that is where the ants plant their kiss,
                            in the glue, in the grip, of time.

                                 Ideas intersect meaning
                                and bear worlds; in which
                                  men are born; men bear
                                 new ideas, and the cycle
                                resumes, endlessly weaving
                              multitudes of worlds together
                                in the depths of the mind.

12. Dialogue of the Mirror Images

           (There are too many stories to tell,
           too many in the joined palms
           that talk for  us  night  and day).

                                         Every footstep can be taken
                                        at any point in any direction
                                      without changing the destination
                                            of our trip. A vision
                                             of shrills at night
                                        piercing the depths of rooms
                                       that no guest will ever leave,
                                        while we draw from the thorny
                                           strips of angst pinned
                                       to the wall a smell of obscene
                                            love, and our beings
                                         shiver, twist into the very
                                           fibre of being, of what
                                         we will shortly be reduced
                                        to be, such nonsense, that I
                                       cannot quite catch the meaning,
                                         the purpose, only the words
                                        you uttered, here and there,
                                      in the dark, the sinister jargon
                                           that rattles itself off
                                         every so often, rehearsing
                                         the longest speech of life.

          (The wreckage has hit our shadows:
          debris, weeds, pebbles, bright
          and wet, gritty with sand to the hand
          that swims through the heap,
          tiny whirls of dead things
          that crawl along the hurricane's
          shell, jewels of time
          that grow and spin forever
          behind the curtain of twilight).

                                           The enigma of our bodies in the  mir-
          ror.
                                           Talking backwards into the past.
                                           A fistful of light rowing
                                           shorewards in the dusk.
                                           All leaves must fall.
                                           Each firefly a wake
                                           that will not dissolve.
                                           We are unable to stop
                                           the dripping of the moon.
                                           We are unable to bury the dead.
                                           Still clinging to the irrefutable
                                           ideogram of the foetus, we are
                                           autumn leaves that last.

                              I stand in front of your eyes,
                              which have stormed so wildly,
                           days and nights for many a century,
                                 still trying to decipher
                                the word that you uttered.
                             I have been watching our shadows
                                  hanging from the sky,
                                fingerprints of our lives
                                   next to nothingness,
                           sleepwalkers that balance themselves
                             on the night's thin blood line.
                                You bend your head over me
                                  like a budding flower
                               before the bee. Honey drops
                               from the corners of my eyes.
                      The wavering filigree of your smile disappears
                        in the motionless emptiness of the bubble
                          whose final transparence surrounds us.

                                                     The  wind  bent  the   tall stalks
                                                     and  carved   paths   among them.
                                                     We walk  along  those  furrows,
                                                     sown with hues of rainbows.  

          I am falling through a mirror
          into someone else's life.
          Realizing that, if there was
          a moon, I missed it.
          You exist, like nothing else
          does. Am I writing this poem;
          or merely copying it, like
          a monk whose life's meaning
          is but the series of signs
          he carefully duplicates
          over and over again?

                                 Agony is the abracadabra
                                   of a magic flute. The crack
                                     will grow until it fills the world;
                                       the jagged blade of the lightning,
                                         the scar that will never heal,
                                           flaming needle of the compass,
                                             the thread of fear spun around
                                               the orbits of us all.

          The thrill of drifting
          from bud to bud
          through clouds of light
          and showers of pearls
          in a hiss of wind,
          wrapped in colorful scents,
          a fossil receding to its past,
          unfocused lense of time.

          A can rattles alone
          in a moonlight fire,
          the never ending echo
          of a dance of dying stars.

                             Thinly dotted feathers falling
                               from the towers of silence,
                                   buried in the future
                              of all things, of all people.
                                    Sun rust whirling
                                   in a lattice of dew.

          Births and deaths
          scattered all around our breathes.
          You survived the wreckage,
          not the salvage.
          I shall draw dragons
          on the canvas of your eyes.

13. Ghost Towns

13.1.

                                 Specks of dust floating
                                in the dense mist of rays
                            that envelopes the ruined temple,
                                the gigantic fossil mouth
                                that was drained of words
                             but is now filled with thoughts,
                          thoughts that have been waiting for us
                                 to lend them our minds:
                          whether lies or truths, they have been
                          wiping our eyes and pushing towards us
                         through the crowd of terrifying figures.

13.2.

                       Blind figures with no names have no memories
                       but the one collective memory which engulfes
                           every gesture and every word. Naked,
                      with glowing eyes, they spin along the bottom.
                       They are breathed by nostrils that, in time,
                       will swallow them all into the original pit.

14.

                            ... they will trample me underfoot,
                            distortions in the mirror of time,
                            they who went at dawn with baskets
                            on their heads, carrying far away
                            into the river's womb the million
                              pieces of the golden sundial,
                         while the winking armors of the raiders
                           pierced through the thick vegetation
                           of the valley and sliced the tinfoil
                                  globe of the universe
                            they walked and walked and walked
                             until the haze wrapped together
                             both the runners and the hunters
                         and still they walk, and walk, and walk,
                         the multitudes of fugitives, the armies
                             they will trample me underfoot,
                            distortions in the mirror of time,
                                 they who went at dawn...

                              Horizons shrinking to a point.
                                    The quest is over.
                          Chimes flooding the square, submerging
                        the flashing crisscross of lifted swords.
                             Wizards, jugglers and acrobats.
                             Then pounding music, and dances,
                              until limbs and minds collapse
                            to sleep, and the giant turquoise
                          is left alone again to guard the town.
                               Moonlight: the sand shines.
                                       Desert wind.
                                     The dust rises.

14. Finale

          And I wonder if Piero,
          the venereal undertaker
          poking about for virgin corpses
          in the quivering mist
          of a profaned tomb,
          if Piero,
          the rattling bowels
          of my shadow,
          if Piero,
          the dangling bat,
          the bat upon the beam,
          if Piero,
          the noise behind this thought,
          I wonder if Piero will ever die.