Guido Catalano

Translated from the Italian by Alessandra Galassi

Our eyes

it was nighttime, I think
or at least dark
or perhaps I had the sunglasses on,
probably my eyes were closed
or I was dead

I sensed the sky and the moon
or maybe it was the ceiling
or the low voltage light bulb

you had taken off your shoes
you even said it to me
maybe because you understood
that I’m a person that never looks below
the knees

“look, I took off my shoes”

and you wore meaningless shoes
they looked like Dorothy’s shoes
they looked like the Wicked Witch of the East’s shoes
the ruby red shoes

and I
you know
I felt like
the Cowardly Lion
the Scarecrow
the Tin Man
all at the same time

three in one
but I could see quadruple
thanks to the abundant dose of wine
from hours ago

and I would have told you
how beautiful your legs are
and how

you feel
without courage, heart, and brain,

and I could have told you
about that exact instant
in which
you realize that everything
can go to screw itself
an instant

but I didn’t do it

and it was very dark
certainly dark
I was alive

and our eyes cannot be hidden
behind dark lenses
since they are beautiful, our eyes

at the cost
- listen closely -
at the cost
of burning them
like when you look,
full of astonishment and amazement,
at the impossible eclipse

It’s not so bad after all

t’s not so bad after all,
being lovesick.
The feeling
- I’m not sure if you agree with me –
is like having a dog living in your stomach
an average sized dog.
A pissed off dog, a prisoner in your stomach
together with a cat.
Yes, because there’s also a cat
and the cat – as you can imagine –
is a very pissed off cat because it’s been
trapped inside your stomach with a dog.
And then there’s the mouse.
Hickory dickory dock the mouse ran up the clock.
- Sorry, just relieving the dramatic tension –.
The mouse is desperate.

One of the good things about being in this state
is that you lose your appetite
you have the impression of being stuffed
of being sated, so if you're on a diet
it’s a great thing.
Also you never feel alone
cause there are these three miserable creatures
that curse from inside of you
night and day
summer and winter
for better or for worse
in sickness and in health.

Then you develop a gloomy charm
a gloomy charm of sorrow
almost like a pirate, or a foreigner
and all the girls say:
“holy cow, what a gloomy charm of sorrow
that kind of a pirate, kind of a foreigner dude has”.
But you cannot use this gloomy charm
with the girls
because you have a dog inside your stomach.

And if you write poems or songs
well, there you straddle
and poor horse
- still to relieve –
there you straddle between things
of lovable sadness and suffering
that not even Tom Waits could sing.
That said,
- and here I close –
if when the wind starts to blow
if when the wind, the strong one, starts to blow
the ugly and mean wind
if when it starts to blow
you get distracted
and let her hand go
- ladies and gentleman, a second is enough –
then you deserve that dog
you do deserve the dog
and the whole fucking zoo.
[No animals have been harmed in the
making of this poem]

Guido Catalano is an Italian poet and writer, born and raised in Turin. He writes for the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, and hosts RAI Radio 2’s program Caterpillar. Catalano has published eight books of poetry and fiction.

Alessandra Galassi teaches Italian language and Italian Film. She has an MA in Film Studies from Rome’s La Sapienza University, an MA in Italian Literature from Queens College, New York, and is a PhD student at the University of Connecticut. She translates contemporary Italian poetry and prose.

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