To My Friend in Rome

 Posted by at 1:23 pm  Atelier, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Jun 062009

The Dioskouroi. Was it those dangerous twins

Who had come knocking at the door to warn you

To leave the building

At once, immediately

Before an earthquake struck?


It was also an earthquake, you see,

During the middle of that night while

We enjoyed the gifts

Of our wealthy host,

Which had made us become invisible.


Epiphanies are out of place these days

Even for a man studying metaphysics,

But I happen to know,

You once wrote a tale,

Which included a visitation by an angel,


And I have been struggling with invisibility too,

Trying to close that crack in the door again,

Since the news broke

Of her terrible illness,

Unable to find words to say to the two standing there.


So it is possible, one of us goes back afterwards

To identify the bodies of all the guests

Because he can recall

The order of us all sat

Around the table, to make us live again.



Letter from Rome

 Posted by at 7:40 pm  ON the STREET  Comments Off
Jun 022009


The semester draws towards an end and we are right in the
middle of exams. I’m picturing these as little yappy dogs demanding my
attention. ‘All right, all right, I’ll do a bit more study . . . later . . .
tomorrow . . . just keep quiet would you.’


After weeks of blue skies and heat in May, June began with
heavy rain. Today is dry, some high cloud, and cool; quite strange not to be
uncomfortably hot, sitting still and sweating – though of course welcome to
those of us more attuned to UK temperatures.


Yesterday afternoon I popped out to the local supermarket,
about a hundred metres away, to buy some milk and fruit. There was something
odd as I walked in, people were standing around as if waiting for something.
There was no activity at the tills apart from one woman who was slowly packing
her shopping. The way into the aisles was obstructed by these sombre, unsure
individuals. Power cut, came to mind, but there were lights on so that didn’t
seem likely. And I continued to look around. Then I turned and a teenage boy,
16 or 17,was right by me – I could have reached out an arm and touched him –
wearing a crash helmet with a scarf over his mouth and nose and . . . oh, he’s
carrying a pistol in his hand and . . . oh, there’s another one and he’s got
this rather evil looking knife . . . right! I think I know what’s going on here
and I better stop looking around with such interest and make myself as
invisible as possible.

Robbery, in fact armed robbery.

The knife boy was coming out of the office, presumably with
money (my gaze was rather focused on the ten inch, sharply pointed blade of the
knife he carried. The pistol boy was stamping about, being tough and making
sure we were all suitably terrified. And then they were off. I hung around for
about half a minute, one man was talking to the police on his mobile. I
realised that there wouldn’t be any normal service for some time so I decided
to manage without any milk and fruit for another day. One of those occasions
when one’s senses are heightened, watching, intent on survival, fearing their
unpredictability. Certainly something to talk about over supper and every now
and again a fantasy pops into my mind, a brief movie showing me what else I
might have done.


And today is a day of national celebration, a holiday, in
Italy, 2 June – Festa della Republicca, to mark Italy’s transition to a
republic in 1946. But here at the college it’s an exam day as usual so us first
years are sweating over our metaphysics.