Tag Archives: Italian verse forms

The Same Street: rispetto

The difference is, he starts to say,
between our diametric views,
is in defining work and play:
that one is waste, and one is use.

That sets the tone for what must be,
more than different reality,
two separate worlds that do not meet,
though side by side on the same street.

03 MAY 2017

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A Thing Gets Old: ottava rima

A thing gets old because it starts out young
and in the spring has little or no care;
of consequence and karma, yet unsprung
in early life, it remains unaware.
Perhaps in early August, comes a sign:
an aching in the knees on summer nights;
still youth imagines everything is fine,
and pushes ever onward, come what might.
The spring and summer can’t imagine snow,
nor feel the cold that only winter knows.

A thing starts to get old once it is born;
it yearns for growing up, and fails to guess
that once maturity arrives, it forms
an outline for a coffin, more or less,
the narrow limit into which one’s life
is slowly shrunk and whittled down to fit.
The miles and years prune new growth like a knife;
a slight pain first, then you get used to it.
So spring and summer’s sap is drawn away,
until at last the first September day.

A thing is old inside while still a child,
when talent and potential seem so vast;
thus, even when it grows unchecked and wild,
each spurt of life fades quickly in the past.
The flame burning in June so bright and cruel
it catches fire to the surrounding wood,
so quickly can exhaust its store of fuel
and leave but soot and ash where forests stood.
How gray and cold November’s earth can seem,
when March and April’s frolics are but dream.

A thing gets old because that’s what things do:
each born carries a bury in its heart;
a life is but a journey to get through,
there is an end in everything that starts.
What’s sown in spring is harvested in fall;
the rains of summer feed December’s snow.
If you would have a part, you must take all;
to miss a piece, one might as well not go.
Yet who would dance less hard or long in Spring,
just knowing the hard Winter it would bring?

10 APR 2017

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy: canzone

Canto I. Don’t Worry

There is no cause for worry or alarm.
The world will carry on despite your fears;
true love will never languish in the arms
of its emotions’ mirror once there found,
though those who seek destruction may surround
and threaten to destroy the cause of life.
Who cares what fools decide to rally ‘round
this tired and jaded banner of deceit?

There is no cause to fear the coming storm:
at least, that’s what the pundits tend to say;
and who, believing their opinion best,
would dare to contradict such acumen?
Believe, believe, and trust your overlords;
it serves their common interest to thwart
what thoughts of revolution might ensue
should you and I begin to doubt and think.

There is no cause for worry, for no harm
will come to those who meekly bow their heads;
the cannon fodder used to fire loud guns
is manufactured from the irksome weeds.
What good is it to argue, in a rage,
against the great inevitable truth?
What difference does it make that a great lie
has molded us subservient since youth?

Canto II. Just Believe

Who calls this thing for what it is? The truth?
In whose inane philosophy of life
does anything not bite that grows a tooth
or fail to cut whose hand may hold a knife?
Where is it written that all men are just,
that goodness lurks inside the human breast?
We see an enemy because we must,
and separate our good from all the rest.

Who when they are attacked, turns either cheek,
or answers with meek love the fatal stab?
There is no place in this world for the weak;
and doubtful, much space there beyond the slab.
When mirth and goodness fill the world, at last,
when virtuous and kind men rule as kings,
perhaps when that great loaded die is cast
will anyone care much for these fool things.

Who reaches out for what they think divine,
and moves and acts according to the good,
forsaking lustful urging for what’s mine
that makes no sacrifices, even when it should?
What men believe reflects in how they move;
their words mean next to nothing, if their acts
would they and their vain gods, both liars prove.
This is not my conjecture, just the facts.

Canto III. Be Happy

Is ignorance of evil really bliss,
so any knowledge can bring only pain?
What kind of life is made from thoughts like this,
that would eschew all sunshine for a rain
to wash away all purpose and desire
and in its place leave just some bland ennui,
that keeps just above freezing, with no fire,
the heart just barely beating, almost free?

And what is happiness, in such a place,
without an individual life-spark,
a gray and dismal world without a face
with eyes only accustomed to the dark,
whose hope is but a pipe-dream, with no point,
the vain illusion of childhood and youth,
who seek some strengthless victor to annoint
who conquers without battle, strife, or truth?

But still, no cause for worry, friends of mine;
the world is not designed to pass away.
what wills itself to live, will all be fine,
and can survive all trials, come what may.
The crucible you’ve called for has arrived!
Rejoice! They have now standardized the test,
and soon, there’ll be no need for shuck and jive
to separate the chaff from all the rest.

30 JAN 2017

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What is Beauty: cancione

So what is beauty, really?
As a requisite to love
it seems far too subjective,
just some desire’s beguiling
design to snare a victim.

So what is beauty, really?
A figment caught by the eye
(or nature-made to seem thus)
to overwhelm reason’s care,
let loose the reins and run wild?

So what is beauty, really?
One sad half discovers whole,
making the universe sing
a melody so haunting
its croaking voice sounds lilting.

So what is beauty, really?
The eye knows only deceit;
the ear, a fading echo;
the mind, pale comparison;
the heart, hopeful delusion.

So what is beauty, really?
A single moment’s passing,
that folds future and present
up into both shroud and veil
for wedding, and funeral.

So what is beauty, really?
The weak, finite majesty
of illusion stitched in time,
the knowing of unknowing
that is a thing in itself.

27 JAN 2017

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Teach Your Children: canzone

Canto I.

To educate for revolution’s sake
requires a willingness for martyrdom,
the sense to learn from every small mistake,
and fortitude enough to take what comes
when nay-saying begins; and start it will,
the moment you step from the comfort zone
where history and status quo lie still.
The one who makes the change, makes it alone.

To teach in such a way, one draws from life;
here, leading by example is a must.
Without at least some evidence of strife
you’ll never gain a single student’s trust.
Each lesson is a battle for the will,
to gain an inch of ground against a world
that teaches, at its core, how best to kill
the oyster, for the sake of some small pearl.

If you would learn from teachers such as these,
first empty out the vessel that you bear;
relinquish all desire or need to please,
and first and foremost, decide that you care.
Once that commitment’s made, the lesson starts:
no homework, no “pop” essays are required,
no slogans or mnemonics learned by heart,
except “to be inspiring, be inspired.”

Canto II.

The truth is never taught to us in schools;
what good is knowing why a thing is so?
Much better to accept the way it is,
than to upset the known, the status quo,
in vain attempts to try and understand
some purpose beyond doing what you’re told.
Shut up, keep to yourself, and mind your tongue:
the best way to survive and to grow old.

Beyond the simple texts we learn by rote,
the facts we’re told are sacred and pristine,
we fall and yet imagine that we float
above a ground far down below, unseen.
There is no golden parachute, my friends;
believe in what you will, to no avail:
no paradise lies up beyond the bend,
the gears will stop, the power will soon fail.

When learning stops, who still admits to teach?
Who, once they know it all, says “I don’t know”?
What good to grasp in space beyond your reach
if what is underfoot you can’t let go?
The time spent cultivating self-esteem,
instead of just performing worthy acts
can never be returned; you can’t reclaim
a pointless life by coloring the facts.

Canto III.

Break down the doors, release these fettered minds!
Let love of beauty rule each student’s heart.
Who knows what new advances they may find,
when nurtured with some kindness from the start?
For truth, though sometimes bitter, does not kill;
reality is harsh, but bears no ill.

Break down the walls of that familiar box
we reinforce with history and fear.
Let go of petty cowardice; unlock
the upper reaches of the atmosphere,
where muffled by a misspent sense of pride
the dreams of humankind are waiting still;
the future can be ours, if we decide
to say, not can’t or won’t, but shout, “I will!”

Break off these chains that bind us to the past,
to staid traditions of no further use;
in truth, they were not ever meant to last.
Let stale ideas suffer disabuse!


Disruption and upheaval cannot be
the means by which the world is made anew.
By violence, nothing ever is made free;
it simply tilts the scales, always askew,
toward a slightly different fulcrum point.
No measure of success is ever found
in wanton, mad destruction. We annoint
new martyrs when each century comes round,

and sacrifice to progress our ideals.
We spend long hours in pointless, wild debate,
believing that reform, a fresh appeal,
will somehow, save us from ourselves, our fate.

What would you teach, if you no longer learn?
What would you learn, if you know everything?
The tune that Nero played on, as Rome burned?
Together, or apart, we all will swing.

26 NOV 2010

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For Starlight: cancione

I cannot claim to know her;
at best, I’ve mapped the surface:
those little nooks and crannies
that she feels like revealing.
More knowledge would not help me;
to understand more deeply,
would take a lifetime’s effort
and skills beyond my grasping.

But what she deigns to show me,
that small part I can handle,
in just over a decade
has become sun- and moon-rise:
my alpha and omega.
There is no life without her,
no breath, no flowing current;
she is my one and only.

They say that men are simple;
we eat and sleep and venture
so few steps from our comfort,
content in our small fiefdoms,
but crave the complication
of woman’s advanced nature
to give our lives their meaning,
some sense of awe and beauty.

I can’t refute that logic;
and for myself, I wonder
where I would go for solace
if she were not here with me.
I know I cannot claim her;
more truthfully, she owns me:
and I live in her service,
my payment is her love.

24 NOV 2010

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Television: canzone

Canto I (The News):

To watch the TV news is to discover
that there is nothing new under the sun:
a movie star found with a younger lover,
convenience store held up by man with gun,
insurgents kill more soldiers by surprise,
another well-known priest accused of wrong,
the difference between fast food joints is fries,
and one more pretty face has a hit song.
The underlying story never changes,
only the details and the point of view;
we watch to prove our own theories of strangeness
and focus not on ourselves, but on you.
There is a comfort in this pap’s digestion
that leaves us feeling informed and aware;
by leaving others to ask all the questions,
all we have left is sensing we still care.
The channel doesn’t matter, just the faces;
their honesty we’ve learned to judge on sight,
and politicians, whether left or right
find us amenable to fund their races.

Canto II (Comedy):

If it were going on next door, in real life,
we probably would not think it was fun;
in fact, if some of these folks were my neighbors,
I’d probably move, or at least, buy a gun.
The basis for most comedy, it seems
is how misfortune comes to someone else,
the consequences of their crackpot schemes
to win friends, change the world, or acquire wealth.
The underlying premise never shifts,
only the patsy and the inside scoop;
we watch to give our own spirits a lift,
and to convince ourselves we’re not the dupe.
There is a comfort in this sad delight
that leaves us feeling better and advanced;
by laughing at some other’s hapless plight
we believe that our own case has a chance.
It doesn’t matter who the comic roasts,
as long as we don’t recognize ourselves,
and are not asked between guffaws to delve
into the issues that affect us most.

Canto III (Reality):

The metaphor of raw, uncensored lives
as captured in a staged and sterile form,
arranged and filtered by cutting room knives,
gives us the rain and thunder, but no storm.
The girl next door, the brain, the jock, the creep,
selected for their camera appeal
or their ability to seem so deep;
exactly what part of this sham is real?
The underlying premise never strays,
but every season, moves from place to place;
we watch to give ourselves new games to play,
to pick our favorites to win a fixed race.
There is a comfort in this grand charade
that makes us feel as if we’re really there;
we know these fools, and if their path we trod,
why surely, we would be the millionaire.
It doesn’t matter what the final prize,
as long as there is drama and suspense;
the benefit of the experience
is that it happens to some other guy.

08 APR 2004

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