The Muni bird
A lack of bread and water
turned the girl into a muni bird.
The sky was gray that morning
and the villagers expected nothing
but sullenness and work.
It was winter everywhere, even in Sicily,
and the miniature icicles dangled
from the arms of the trees.
But then she picked up a branch and opened her mouth,
slightly at first, an inch or two,
battling with the strings of her cheeks,
hinting at the birth of a song.
And she grew orange feathers on the side of her arms,
And her beak turned green with an outline in yellow,
and her fingers grew long and sharp
and she could stick to the skin of the trees.
And she sang, she sang to 15 years of avarice and desolation,
She sang to the envy and spite of a nation governed by idiots and ruminating dinosaurs,
She sang to Sandro, who laughed at her breasts and pushed her aside like a rotten peach,
She sang to the tyranny of flesh and the millions spent in rifles and tanks,
She sang to the fields which were barren and cold
ike the hollow wombs of the spinsters of Palermo,
She sang to the rivers stained by the trillion lira dreams of comic book thugs,
She sang to Cristina, killed by the sting of an African bee, and Mona, who walked into the water and never came back.
She sang to the hours begging for change and the days shoved away into the street corners of pain and anonymity,
She sang to the fields of barley and wheat growing in her chest,
She sang to a future of a thousand Muni birds,
She sang proudly and sweetly as she glided over Messina
and the melting snow.
One more rejection and I will jump in the water,
One more rejection and I will never come back,
One more rejection and they will find pieces of my body
in every river from here to Genova.
Have you ever seen a man turned into cracked sea shells and broken china?
Have you ever in the disintegration of a body of illusions?
How a single shot of ammunition can help to bring a castle down.
And no internal valve will help. No tepid spring of past devotions.
No letter from the music of the spheres.
No. The flop is complete.
The total sum of your loss comes galloping down the mountain
like a titanic sledge of panic stricken owls and livid greyhounds.
You are left naked in the presence of regret
as the whole of mount Vesuvius crashes straight into your face.
And the lights go out.
And even the young Virgil is shit scared.
Cos we are all slave ships in the ocean of solitude and acceptance.
Cos a mere grimace can push a man into his darkest screech.
Cos blood evaporates and the body shrivels like an empty shell
and all that is left is the crust and the remnants of a howl?
More like a shriek. A desiccated scream.
The tattered vest of an athletic shout.
Have you heard such a thing?
It can make your limbs ache.
Have you ever felt the absence of the wind
when the heart of the clouds stop beating?
You, with your Greek chest and your Roman poise,
You, blessed with the eye sockets of the Persian Gods.
You, vermillion sun, purple and red.
You, who parade your curves in manors of Posillipo.
You, who wait by the fireplace of your beauty
for some green souled John to incinerate his future
in the heat and in your flames.
You, who keep your eyes in your pockets
as we disintegrate in the hovels of your face.
One more rejection and I will grow seaweed to cover my mouth,
One more rejection, and may my voice be my witness,
I will dissolve my heart in the taverns of Naples,
One more rejection and I, Giacomo Leopardi, will abandon my name.
Sea shells in her hair
and eyes like harpoons.
She knows what she desires
and I must sing for her to get it.
But I can’t keep you here forever
mercurial one, I too must disappear,
even Rome, in all its drunken glory,
had one thing coming.
She throws her arms into the air
and picks her breasts up from the floor.
If songs dare not immortalise us
what use are they at all? She says.
The row that followed,
My lord the row!
Who said a gentle man
could not defend himself
with his teeth and with his nails?