by piero scaruffi

San Francisco Bay Area, Arizona, Kiev, Istanbul, Roma, London, Dubai, Singapore

november 2006 - 25 december 2008

(Note: you need Firefox and the fonts for Arabic, Chinese and Hindi to view this poem. Internet Explorer behaves erratically, as usual).

  1. Eden and Babel: Meditation Upon a smile
  2. Elegy of the Witness - The Same River Twice
  3. Illumination
  4. A Melancholy Minuet about the Gap Between You and Me
  5. Apology of the Demiurge
  6. Mythology of the Future
  7. Speculations on a Privileged State of Cognitive Dissonance
  8. Critical Annotations on a Daydream
  9. Al Kitab
  10. Hypothesis on the Nature of Existence (A Fleeting Moment Of Wonder and Despair)

  1. Eden and Babel: Meditation Upon a Smile
    (Translations of the verses in foreign languages are at the bottom of this page)

    "I have seen Eden, garden of Light" (Adam)

    El lugar sin limites.

    The summit was not meant to be seen;
    not on this day, not by us. I wanted
    this moment to whisper to your smile
    what i am without any need for words;
    to unfurl on you the curled petals
    of the giant sea anemone of my life.
    But the fog enveloped us, hinting at
    Borges' labyrinth and Berkeley's god,
    at a much larger dimension of existence
    where you are me and i am less than you;
    from which the rings of our twin souls
    derive their flowery contours, as if
    surrendering to the nudity of time.

    I have learned something important
    just by watching you watch the world.

    An embryo shines the moon,
    a myth of lust and doom,
    while the stars radiate
    what your gaze buried
    in a grain of sand.

    Pratico el arte de existir y perdurar,
    en los vastos confines de tu sonrisa,
    en el mar de cristales, espejos, joyas,
    que pintan el mapa infinito de la noche,
    el polvo indescifrable de estrellas,
    el jardín de cometas, esferas y arcoiris
    donde no hay comienzo, pausa o regreso,
    mientras las lunas que se han evaporado,
    y que tu miraste sin alas o palabras,
    libre del mito, libre de las mentiras,
    y, sin embargo, frágil dédalo de deseos,
    no son mas que ecos, sombras, sueños,
    que me persiguen e impulsan,
    perpetuo descanso de perpetua agonía,
    hacia el común destino y martirio,
    la divina impostura de este planeta,
    el dolor sin fin de ser sin haber sido.

    My remark about your hair
    was not about your hair at all.
    It was a way to answer
    your unspoken question,
    to hold together all
    those unlived moments.

    On a quitté la mer
    sans lui dire que nous reviendrons.

    The world looks different through
    the lens of your smile. It has,
    in fact, disappeared. I was blinded
    by a waterfall of tiny crystals
    leapfrogging entire universes
    like a runaway Bach canon.

    La lueur des nuages au crépuscule tisse
    des contes dont nous lirons jamais la fin.

    I was deafened by polyphonic music
    of supernatural depth and harmony,
    each individual voice playing
    a wildly different future.

    Frissons du ciel allument tes yeux;
    coquillages phosphorescents dont
    j'attends le murmure de l'audelà.

    I stood spellbound under the rainbow
    that your lips had drawn in the sky
    and that slowly traversed your eyes
    populating them of lush gardens,
    each eye a sun, peeking
    behind dusty galaxies
    at unknowable memories.

    La vie est une autre plage
    sur laquelle j'aimerai retourner
    avec toi.

    Whenever i stared back down
    into the darkening canyon,
    i smelled the fragrance
    of your slender body, knowing
    that you were watching
    from a lower turn of the trail
    the same infinite disappear
    into the same nameless nothingness
    but knowing as well (and fearing)
    that what i saw as silent emptiness
    was to you full of unfinished

    Im Nebel meines Lebens
    kann ich kaum erkennen
    die Welt, die ich betrachte.
    Alles, was ich sehe,
    sind Schatten von Dir.

    I think of you as a storm
    that alters a landscape
    that i had painstakingly
    mapped in time.
    (When you feel the pain,
    you perhaps embody
    so much of what matters
    about humanity).
    I (the deserter, the silent
    witness, the virgin martyr,
    the zealous time-keeper,
    a clown of hopeless routes,
    an oracle of ancient history,
    the knight of wonderland,
    or just the last cobblestone
    in your long journey home)
    can hear you cry.

    You playing with the waves
    at the beach (on another hazy day)
    and the euphoria of the seagulls
    emerging from the twitching quicksand
    of sunrise, felt like two sides
    of the same truth, both impossible
    to render in words or images,
    two views of a daydream's utopia.
    I took a futile photograph
    of the aquarium in your eyes
    as you were running towards me
    clothed in a shawl of saltwater,
    and realized how the first man
    must have felt, contemplating life
    beyond his power to comprehend.

    The thought of you is a lonely swallow
    swimming back from the other bank
    of the horizon, stretching wings
    that are dreams of eternal bliss.
    Where does the Earth end if not
    in the mandalas of your eyes?

    Quando di quel sorriso sbocciato
    in incognito come il loto alato
    nella laguna coperta da un sudario
    di aironi i petali ebbri di aurora
    si accasciarono nelle mie pupille
    prosciugando di suoni la natura,
    inventai per te un mondo infinito
    di vaste paludi di cieli stellati,
    di bufere di fantasmi di corallo,
    di nevi azzurre sul bordo del sole,
    di diluvi mitici di lava di lucciole
    nel ventre di perla di una foglia,
    per ripetere ancora senza fiato
    il tuo nome come un sacro mantra
    inciso da un diamante di fulmine
    nel cuore gia` spento dell'estate.

    Dimenticai per poter ricordare
    cio` che eri e sempre sarai,
    pur non sapendo che sapere
    e` un modo di dimenticare.

    Nei tuoi occhi ho finalmente visto
    il mio riflesso. Non ho che questo
    da offrirti. Non ho che me stesso,
    saltimbanco in un dedalo di tenebre.

    "We are such stuff
    as dreams are made of"

    The universe devoted
    its entire existence to it.
    Her euphoria is the reward
    for having spun all those
    senseless billion years.
    Everything floats, addicted
    to her heavenly orbits.
    How i wish i could be the moon
    that unveils the queen of all stars.

    "E quindi uscimmo
    a riveder le stelle" (Dante)

    I shall never betray your invisibility,
    but i would like to surprise you
    with the longest poem of my life
    carved on the tiniest dewdrop
    of the least of your moments.

    "Let there be light" (God)

  2. Elegy of the Witness - The Same River Twice

    The shining spires of Istanbul
    disappear under the lunar pollen
    that the dervishes evoked
    with their feverish dances.
    The day is dismantled
    only to be reassembled
    less different tomorrow.
    Bats dye jagged orbits
    into the mesh of a bleeding
    sky, like kites torn apart
    by wicked whirlwinds.
    I waded through the stillness
    past a concert of flickering candles
    lulling the thin layer of shadows
    at the edge of the bridge, and faded
    into the cold wind of the strait
    where the lights morphed into the city,
    one man waltzing with his ghost
    the dance they never danced back home.

    Do these stars return nightly
    to show us something
    that we've always failed to see?
    Are these stars the same
    reflections that twinkled
    in your eyes at the beach?

    Is this world the same creature
    that looked so small next to you?
    Night turns the heart into a stage
    where our drama can be reenacted
    without fear of reciting the lines
    that we spent a lifetime rehearsing.

    Why am i here tonight
    if not to feel the distance
    and long for what i left behind?

  3. Illumination

    How sweet letting you happen to me,
    free-falling like a meteor
    into a pre-existing crater.
    How fulfilling to become
    merely an extension of you,
    for you to bury and resurrect
    at will.

    "Das Ewig-Weibliche
    zieht uns hinan" (Goethe)

    Commentary #1

    Women display a propensity
    to continuously redraw
    mirror images of themselves
    (like petals or snowflakes
    or, more to the point, like
    antibodies) that keep multiplying
    in a fractal pattern, a mandala
    that in turn generates
    an inner landscape of denial.
    They inhale like opium
    the invincible logic of deceit.
    They play a game
    that they take
    for reality.

    They are consumed by a dogmatic sense
    of personal history unfolding out of
    biological history, when, in fact,
    their life flows the other way around.

  4. A Melancholy Minuet about the Gap Between You and Me

    "And since you know you cannot see yourself,
    so well as by reflection, I, your glass,
    will modestly discover to yourself
    that of yourself which you yet know not of."

    There are many inside you.
    A life is a symphony of selves
    that often pull in different directions.
    A melody emerged from the cacophony
    and flew into uncharted land:
    my brain tries in vain to whistle it
    so that you can recognize me.

    You are lost in the dense maze
    that you erected around your smile.
    You yearn to be found, but you can't be.
    "You are the music while the music
    lasts" (Eliot).
    You yearn to be the echo
    after the music stopped.

    I lay upon the grass
    listening to your voice
    (that i had memorized
    a week earlier at the cafe)
    until the words ended
    and the world fell silent.
    I did not stop listening.
    But you, my world, had stopped
    I knew the time had come.
    I got up and started running
    again, blindfolded,
    with no destination.
    Who was i
    when i was not myself?
    A pilgrim? a ghost?
    An uninvited guest?
    I stand in an empty world
    staring at a river
    that wasn't there.
    I don't know this place
    but i know where i am:
    i am where you are.

    Something is dead in my mind
    like a fossil or a lie.
    Something is lost forever
    every time you smile
    and i'm left out of it.







    Now that i can't see
    you, what is the word
    for the void i feel,
    that's so full of you
    and still so empty?

    And your symphony rages on,
    a gentle chaos of feathery notes
    fluttering along their stave,
    eventually converging into this point
    of the spacetime lattice that is me.

  5. Apology of the Demiurge

    Fueled by a rich tapestry
    of symbols, by a Moebius strip
    of crossword puzzles, the droning
    "om" in your eyes roams the charred
    dreamscape that lies between
    the possibility of transcendence
    and the necessity of reality.
    You blackmail yourself.
    ("Your future is
    all the signs
    that disappear
    before you can
    read them").

    Nothing has meaning
    except for you
    to give meaning to it.
    We are all fictions
    of your imagination.
    Only you exist.
    We merely persist.

    And butterflies. So many
    to turn the whole sky
    into a mirror image of

    Commentary #2

    It takes two to write a poem.
    You have to "be" a poem.
    Then i simply write the words
    as they emanate from you.
    The flower and the poem
    cannot be separated.
    Words drip from petals.
    and petals grow from words.
    Beauty is not in the eye
    of the beholder: he is
    in the fragile stem of beauty.
    This poem is you.
    And it is
    a never ending poem,
    that one shall write
    day after day.
    The thousand threads
    of your life
    will come together
    only at the end.

    As the world we know gets
    less and less meaningful,
    and life drifts to a standstill
    between the rain and the rainbow,
    i reach for the feeble heartbeat
    of dew dropping from weary leaves,
    to hear the music that i never heard
    from you. This is the sound that
    could have made me love my life.

    I rescued you
    from oblivion
    only to find out
    that you were
    a character
    in someone

    (Sometimes i smell the pages
    instead of reading the ink
    and wonder if words
    are the only way
    to tell a story).

  6. Mythology of the Future

    Every time you leave a place
    you enter another one. Every
    departure is an arrival.
    "We know what we are, but
    know not what we may be" (Shakespeare)

    "What is truth" asked Pilate of Jesus
    and turned the first page
    of the lengthy verdict.
    The fisherman replied with the pearl,
    and the shepherd with a burning twig.
    Haystacks smoke outside
    the windows of the train, painting
    my thoughts on the brown canvas of autumn,
    and remind me of the infinite space
    that i peeked at when you sat
    tired in the theater, a flower
    in the forest of my soul.
    "Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
    che la diritta via era smarrita" (Dante)

    "What is truth"?

    We may have forgotten
    how to listen.

  7. Speculations on a Privileged State of Cognitive Dissonance

    We all wait for (and expect)
    the myth that will save us,
    whether from loneliness,
    chaos, meaninglessness
    or exhaustion.
    Our self is not equipped
    with the tool to save itself (*).
    Salvation lies beyond
    the borders of our inner life,
    it requires another being,
    another inner life,
    a mirror image
    or a doppelganger,
    a "you" to fill the "i".

    In a sense, there is no
    being to save, as the self
    becomes a being only after
    "being" saved by its savior.
    We drift, like outcasts,
    until we can cling to a cliff
    or the tide dumps us on a beach
    or a mermaid swims us to shore.
    Then we exist.
    Then we are one.

    Like it cannot perceive
    the nature of our nature:
    the neurons in the brain.

    Commentary #3

    We have nothing in common:
    your life is as much
    about forgetting as mine
    is about remembering.
    We use the same words to speak
    different languages. Every
    city and every voice is still
    in my heart, while you,
    instead, conceive memory
    as a curse, the past as a
    pointless distraction
    from the present;
    each reminder as the judge
    of an awful crime that you
    did not commit but will
    have to atone for.
    Deprived of your innocence,
    you are doomed to cancel
    yourself out as your grow up.
    You tell a story as if
    it were the only one.
    I can't conceive a story
    without all the others.
    Each story tells another story.
    Each life lives another life.
    I want to remember forever
    every gesture that made
    this poem take shape.
    After you read it, you'll want
    to forget every word of it.
    You live to avoid destiny;
    I live to face it defiantly.
    I wish you were proven right
    and there was only one story
    and all others were elliptic
    digressions, bundled together
    to unravel the cryptic plot.

    A lump of moonlight
    ruffles the glowing ashes
    (the open wounds)
    in her sleepy eyes.
    She smiles, ultimately,
    because there is nothing
    to smile about.
    I have known her since
    the beginning of time,
    when the first sparks
    erupted from the altar,
    and the priests morphed
    into astrologers to set
    the clockwork in motion
    that would bring us here.
    She came from the desert,
    a drop of water shouting
    the gap between the finite
    and the infinite that Newton
    foresaw and Joyce exorcised.

    She will cross the threshold
    of the dream and decipher it
    without uttering a syllable;
    acknowledging my madness
    with a sigh of relief;
    her goodnight kiss
    a dreadful prophecy
    that i shall have
    to fulfill.

    As we ventured into
    your clever hypothesis,
    i wanted to tell you
    "Whatever was alive
    has long been dead".
    But you had been
    the first one to die.

    You always will be
    something that i lost
    before i could find it.

    I met a woman who did not exist.
    Die Grosse Stille.
    La Tourneuse de Pages.

  8. Critical Annotations on a Daydream

    I confess that i had overlooked
    the sublime elegance that lurked
    in all that familiar simplicity.

    I think of you as a frail bird,
    trying to extricate herself
    from a thick bush of thorny vines.
    You flap your wings,
    your feathers bleed,
    a maze of colors
    envelops your cry.

    You are the fairy queen
    who bestows reality
    on my surroundings,
    and keeps changing them
    without waiting for me
    to comprehend them.

    What do we live for
    if not to hold hands
    in the dark, and search
    together the outskirts
    of this foreign land
    for the tortuous route
    that we call "home"?
    if not to quietly rejoin
    the army of mute cicadas
    after having contemplated
    from deep inside how inane
    it all is and accepted it
    as our meaningful destiny?

    As an intermediary between
    the cosmos and me you shine.

    The bluest birds shall fly
    into the vast dark skies
    of your eyes.
    does not exist.
    You dream
    You are
    the missing
    between space
    and time.

    Let us draw maps of places
    where we have never been.

    "Vafaadaarii ne dilbar kii bujhaayaa aatish-e-Gam ko.n"
    (Wali Mohammed Wali)

  9. Al Kitab

    She said "You
    bought a book,
    flipped through
    the pages, but
    never read it."

    I replied "You
    are the only
    book that i
    will never
    read; because
    it has no

    A smile is a crystal
    of thought.

  10. Hypothesis on the Nature of Existence (A Fleeting Moment Of Wonder and Despair)

    I feared your power to turn me
    into someone else, even into a lost
    nomad, in spite of never having failed
    to reach my destinations;
    and into a fragment of a bigger
    self, instead of the whole
    that i've always been.
    You speak words
    that rise like mountains
    in all directions
    for me to climb.

    There is much we can do
    to live beyond this life.
    There is enough in us
    to live multiple lives
    and regret having lived
    at all.

    I have to step out of myself
    just to say "hi" to you.

    The spell is a mind mirror.
    The guilt of being
    without having been.

    We all bear the brunt
    of your original sin,
    of the deep silent fire
    that ignited your future.

    A cosmic battle
    consumes itself
    inside your every

    You are not
    the music.
    You are the silence
    when the music stops.

  11. Appendix: translations

    In the fog of my life
    i can hardly see
    the world i look at.
    All i see is shadows of you.
    The great stillness.
    "The eternal feminine draws us upwards"
    When of that smile blossomed
    incognito like the winged lotus
    in the lagoon covered with a shroud
    of herons the drunk petals of dawn
    fainted in my pupils
    draining nature of all sound,
    i invented for you an infinite world
    of vast swamps of starry skies,
    of storms of coral ghosts,
    of azure snows on the edge of the sun,
    of mythical floods of lava of fireflies
    in the belly of the pearl of a leaf,
    in order to still repeat breathless
    your name like a sacred mantra
    carved by a diamond of lighting
    in the already cold heart of summer.

    I forgot to be able to remember
    what you were and will always be,
    although i did not know that to know
    is a way to forget.

    In your eyes i have finally seen
    my reflection. I have nothing else
    but this to offer you. I have but myself,
    a jester in a maze of darkness.
    "And thus we reemerged
    and saw again the stars."
    We left the sea without telling him.
    that we shall return.

    The glow of clouds at sunset weave tales
    of which we will never read the end.

    Shivers of sky light up your eyes;
    phosphorescent shells from which i wait
    for the hum of the otherworld.

    Life is another beach
    to which i would like to return
    with you.
    The page turner.
    Sunset only means that everything
    will soon be reborn less different.
    (Sunrise means to everybody
    what sunset only means to me).
    (Wali Mohammed Wali)
    "My faithful love has quenched the fire of my grief"
    (transliterated from the Urdu by Nita Awatramani)
    Everybody is a sign for something.
    I know less and less
    You speak to the world
    like a mother to a newborn.
    You listen to the world
    like a newborn to her mother.
    The place with no boundaries.
    I practice the art of existing and persisting,
    in the vast borders of your smile,
    in a sea of crystals, mirrors and gems,
    that paint the infinite map of the night,
    the indecipherable dust of stars,
    the garden of comets, spheres and rainbows
    where there is no beginning, pause or return,
    while the moons that have flown away,
    and that you glanced at without wings or words,
    free of myth, free of lies,
    and, notwithstanding, fragile maze of desires,
    are nothing but echoes, shadows, dreams,
    that haunt me and propel me,
    eternal rest of eternal agony,
    towards the common fate and martyrdom,
    the divine swindle of this planet,
    the endless pain of being without having been.
    Thanks to the people who helped to revise the lines in foreign languages:
    • Hindi: Mahdu, Palak
    • French: Iantha, Anne
    • German: Matthias, Olaf
    • Spanish: Sofia
    • Chinese: Tao
    • Arabic: Hassan, Achraf