translated from the Italian by Will Schutt

I run into them in squares 
or coffee shops, most of the time 
I recognize them, and marvel at 
what they’ve become:
all those eyes and fingers.
Wrenches, suits. Some shy, 
others obnoxious. And the burnouts, 
the ones who lick the dirt.
Then there’s me,
carrying cucumbers and a roll of TP.

 


 

Allievi 

Li incontro sulle piazze 
o in qualche bar, li riconosco 
quasi sempre, e penso cosa diventano, 
adesso, tutti quegli occhi, quelle dita.
Carburatori, cravatte. Certi timidi, 
altri perfino odiosi. E i devastati, 
quelli che leccano l’asfalto.
E infine anch’io
che ho in mano cetrioli e carta igienica.

Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press. “Allievi” in Le cose senza storia, Fabio Pusterla, Marcos y Marcos, Milano 2007.

        if you have had 
            your midnights
    and they have drenched
        your barren guts
           with tears

  I sing you sunrise
         and love
and someone to touch

From Continuum: New and Selected Poems (Just Us Books, Inc., 2007 and 2014) by Mari Evans. Copyright © 2007 and 2014 by Mari Evans. Used with the permission of the Estate of Mari Evans.

For all we knew, there was no such thing as wealth
management internships sponsored by a father’s
Harvard roommate, or else some Fifth Avenue gig
running iced coffee for fashionistas an hour’s ride away
from where we stood, the darkest thing for miles,

trash collection claws extending from our sleeves
like some late 80’s cyborg fantasy. We were bored
out of our brains, unlettered, sharp enough still
to know our place in the grander proletarian scheme:
a pair of scholarship kids paid to maintain campus

while our peers tried their hands at college physics,
American industry, psychedelics and road trips
to the mid-west with friends, all while Devin and I
stood in our standard-issue jumpsuits, adding another
coat of white paint to the cafeteria walls without irony.

There were no small iron gods in our pockets then;
no machines to thread us into the invisible world, and so
we passed entire mornings listening to the ceremonies
of birds we couldn’t name as we traversed the sides
of the high-way, each step perfecting our soon-to-be

flawless technique, dodging carrion, dividing paper waste
from condoms and bottles of Coors, just the way Jay taught
us our first day on-call. I spent most breaks in the rift
between observation and dreams, pulling music from the filthy
tales each older man on the maintenance crew cast like a cure

into the mind of the other. Folklore filling the desolate
lecture halls where we took lunch, laughing as we traded
one tradition for another. No future worth claiming apart
from that broken boiler in the next building, blackbirds
trapped in the gutter-way, getting pipes fixed before fall.

From Owed (Penguin Poets, 2020). Copyright © 2020 Joshua Bennett. Used with permission of the author and Penguin Random House.