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Contemporary Italian American Writing

Dennis Barone: 5 Poems
from Parellel Lines


Dennis Barone’s second volume of selected poems, Parallel Lines, will be published by Star Cloud Press in 2011. Also forthcoming from Star Cloud is the anthology New Hungers from Old: One-Hundred Years of Italian-American Poetry. It contains one poem by one hundred poets ranging from Arturo Giovannitti and Joseph Tusiani to Diane DiPrima, Daniela Gioseffi and Elaine Equi. Dennis Barone is a Professor of English and Director of the American Studies Program at Saint Joseph College in West Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of numerous books of criticism, fiction, and poetry. Among them are America / Trattabili (a study of Italian American narrative, Bordighera Press 2010), North Arrow (stories, Quale Press 2008), and Separate Objects (selected poems volume one, Left Hand Books, 1998). He has edited several books including Beyond the Red Notebook: Essays on Paul Auster (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995). His book Echoes received the 1997 America Award for most outstanding book of fiction by a living American writer, and in 1992 he held the Thomas Jefferson Chair, a distinguished Fulbright lecturing award, in the Netherlands.


The orange peel from the morning
still on the back of the tongue.
Dry chalk and banana in
the air of the room, cold air
that makes little mountains
on the palm. Everything turns
green: the valleys, the ridges along-
side. Words to be written,
green words and orange
and the time in which to write
them and the air to breathe
and the breath so necessary
to say them


Here I am!
Can I speak to you?
Is it possible?
Why not? For sale,
my heart –
with polka-dots!
What are you doing?
Hurry! Hurry!  


Yesterday I went to Bologna.
I made the situation worse.
I climbed the stairs.
Times have changed.

Times have changed.
I went by the house last night.
I had already finished my work.
Before going out, I turned off the lights.

Before going out, I turned off the lights
I spent my summer at the beach.
I wasn’t able to return as planned.
Yesterday an occurrence developed in Bologna.

Yesterday something happened in Bologna.
I wasn’t able to understand it.
I ran to the house.
Giorgio Morandi died at midnight


In a city, Trieste or Udine,
on an avenue of lime trees,
when springtime
leaves change color,
I will die
beneath an ardent sun,
straw yellow and high-up,
and my eyelids will close
on the sky and all its splendor.

Beneath the fervent green of a lime tree,
I will fall into the obscure,
into a death that obfuscates
lime trees and sun.
Stout young men
will run into the light
that just slipped away from me,
take-off outside their school,
thick curls waving.

I will still be young,
with a spotless coat
and lush hair that tumbles
into bitter nothingness.
I will still be fervid
and a stripling will slide
near on the avenue’s tepid asphalt,
he will balance his hand
on my transparent lap.

(after Pier Paolo Pasolini)  


History is the end of all things eternal.
The a-historical bee never exits the hive.
We remember Achilles. Then recall that
He died. Sometimes we can glimpse
The pacing, the placing of our returns from
The theoretical to the autobiographical.
A door may open: the thing to do is enter.

Copyright 2010 © by Dennis Barone from his book Parallel Lines, Star Cloud Press, 2011. All rights reserved by the author.

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