Song for Pieve di Caminino

Songs of the Everyday

At Caminino they make merry
Among the ghekkos and the fairies
In amongst the olive groves 
Where the prosecco fountain flows,
Where the wine forever flows 
In amongst the olive groves.

And there is a fig tree there
Competing with the prickly pears
For the devotions of the guests
Who come to eat and drink and rest
Who come to find eternal rest
Among the spirits of the blessed.

An ancient chapel stands out back
And those who venture up the track
Beyond the figs and prickly pears 
Can see the ghosts of monks at prayer
A thousand years and still at prayer
Beyond the figs and prickly pears.

And here they give you caponata
And the veal is tonnato
And the boar is freshly slaughtered
For the baptism of the daughter 
For the baptism of a daughter
A cinghiale freshly slaughtered.

And the children shout and run
And the men discuss their guns 
As the smoke of their tobaccos
Charm the fairies and the ghekkos
The merry fairies on their ghekkos 
Inhale the perfume of tobacco.

And as you drive back to your place
Hot tears will flow upon your face
For you to mourn all that is pretty 
As you cry tears for the city.
Yes, you cry tears for the city
That taught you everything you know
About the ugly and the pretty.

At Caminino as the night turns dark
The guests have played their final parts
And exit as the curtains close 
In amongst the olive groves
In amongst the olive groves 
Where that magic fountain flows.


- o -


dedicated to that very magical place, Pieve di Caminino, its hosts and their new daughter Maria Giovanna.

Sagra at Campagnatico

Songs of the Everyday, Songs of Travel

The crowd ate snails in umido
And some of it, tortelli maremmani 
with generous dollops of meaty ragu, 
and ravioli with butter and sage
and grilled chicken and salamella,
and soaked it all in draught beer 
and carafes of inexpensive local wine.
Volunteers in matching tee-shirts 
hustled tickets and orders and fries 
and tiny plastic cups of vin santo 
surrounded by cantucci carefully
laid in the shape of suns.

Above the queues and rows
of eating and anticipating humans,
a tumult of smells and oil smoke 
rose and rushed through humid air
to join the darkening clouds 
above the nearing horizon,
where an angry yellow haze
was already consuming the hills
and threatening the valley.

The crowd was still eating 
as the first drops of rain 
splashed the warm concrete.

Wedding at Campagnatico

Songs of the Everyday, Songs of Travel

She married at the old church
at the end of the hilltop village,
wearing white so she stood out
from all the coloured short dresses
and tanned legs taught over heels.

The young men sported beards
and recent haircuts and blazers,
creased trousers, casual shoes,
and dispersed energetically
as the old men and women waited.
Across the road on a raised wall
cheerful onlookers from the village
looked on and chatted.

She must have worn her mother’s
old wedding dress. The groom
was not obvious, if he mattered.
She married because that dress
could still be worn one more time
and she needed to stand out once
from the heels and coloured dresses,
because the oldies waited patiently
for something other than a funeral,
and the dry cleaner needed business,
and the guests needed something
to discuss until the next headline,
and the village onlookers needed
somewhere to look.

I was up on that wall with them
waiting for the pizzeria to open,
it opened when the crowd dispersed.


Songs of the Everyday, Visions

Buried far far beneath the evening sky.
Where the trees have lost their shadows,
where lonely lights hunt through the depths
and the last of the supermarket shoppers
shoot cigarette smoke with the guards
before they hang their heads home.

Want to be up there, upon that mountain,
among crystal air and pink gold clouds.


Songs of the Everyday

Daddy, you know, this floor,
it’s a puzzle of a whirlpool,
he said, crouching down in his pyjamas
squinting at the parquet floorboards
as I was trying to wake up.

And as I did I saw that he was right:
the grain and eddies of the wood
were jigsawed and reassembled
into a thousand discontinuities,
stitched together randomly
until it was safe to walk,
so we could live and love
without falling through and drowning,
or always thinking of the ever present
danger beneath our feet.

9 May


Who was it
Who walked out
Into the burnt wheat
And reaped smoke?
Who slept on the charred dirt
And ate raw horse
And stripped bark,
Lost teeth and friends
And saw everybody die
And kept on running
As the bullets stitched his legs?
Was told that he was dead
But lived again, again?
Who ran across the field
Bellowing “for Stalin!”?
Who was it
Who won it back for you
But gained nothing?
You do not know
because you do not know
or you do not remember.
Run now, to the hills
Or go out in the garden
Look up and close your eyes
And be silent
And you might taste the bitter drops
Of ashes scattered
High above the spring breeze.

Secret garden

Songs of the Everyday

You always do this, she says,
as he smiles victoriously
with the teaspoon between his teeth,
knowing well that it tastes sweeter
stolen from her cup.

He watches her undress
from behind his fingers. She knows it
but she knows he cannot reach.
He knows he could
but the forbidden polaroids are sweeter.

We never do this, she says,
eyes closed as he strokes her hair and face.
They know it is a stolen glimpse
through the keyhole
into the secret garden.