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Peter Hughes
 
Four Poems after Guido Cavalcanti

XV

Se Mercé fosse amica a’ miei disiri

being manifestations of the whole
history of the planet we each possess
all these walnut-sized knobs of dark matter
swarming with evolutionary forces

exerting pressure just behind the lunch
or late-night snack which fuels the latest
life-defining lunges for those spaces
we imagine past the endings of these lines

or panes or assortments of flimsy walls
& catchments & administrative blocs
plus slag-heaps of industrial diseases

burning dreams & generations for a
thimbleful of fat to take onboard
a lifeboat inexorably sinking

 

XVI

A me stesso di me pietate vène

& still my cogs emit this high-pitched whine
although they never mesh with the planet’s
transmission systems or anyone else:
self-portrait of the artist as duff clutch

so I’m stuck between vibrating mayhem
& a car that’s never heading down the road
Christ it’s like I’ve got Elmore James playing
right in the tips of each of my fingers

with none of the sound ever getting out
through the skin or sudsy marigold gloves
sink kitchen isolated house or town

it’s already the end of whatever
they’re calling this period nowadays
& what you hear here is just an echo

 

XIX

I’ pregovoi che di dolor parlate

I’m sure you’ve all had a lot on your minds
but I thought you might like to take a break
from your issues to concentrate on mine

which include dry rot & whistling gaskets
& an ache in the gut that’s calling out
for dynarod I am these sensations
of someone else’s knuckles just behind
my eyeballs which make it impossible
to gaze reflectively upon the world
or freshen up the stale pits of my mind

& that’s a shame because I’d seen some sights
& enjoyed a stunning range of inputs
which made my thinking feel like a fountain
playing incessantly throughout the nights
of a small piazza in the ghetto
instead of one of those tiny red lights
on the extension lead under the desk

I’ve reached that stage when glimpses of justice
& gorgeousness such as fresh leaf on beech
or any member of the cod family
proper policy her face & music
sending these little ripples through the wine
hurt my eyes & render me rickety
knowing their value & fragility

 

XXI

O donna mia , non vedestù colui

another Cornish pasty clogged with swede
completes its earthly journey to the drains
punch-drunk with germs & sales-pitch we emerge
from one of Satan’s anuses (Ryan

Air FR4952) & into
the cooling cave of the Perugino
bar & grill where an old television
is murmuring suave updates on Gaza

trade in being and nothingness for an
amazon gift card of up to eighty-
one pence & try to keep despair at bay

for as long as it takes to finish this
tinny beer & unpredictable night
& whatever is left of tomorrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © Peter Hughes, 2014.