meditations on language

de filosofia no sé;
del amor tampoco o menos;
pero me pones pensar tu
si es posible mancar
lo que aún no haya tenido.



this morning the light comes
through glass as if it were

autumn, but there is no poem
in it. in english,

one can say only i miss you,
but that doesn’t cover

by half the september sun
he says i need.

in italian, mi manchi,
you are lacking to me;

a lesson in grapeskins
and empty palms.

in spanish the thing,
like autumn morning light,

gets nearer: me haces falta,
te echo de menos,

te extraño: you make me lack;
you make me less;

i miss you. like a third hand
to turn the door knob

when my arms are wrapped
around your waist.


the young moon is
strung up
above the river looking
like a pale imitation
of herself,
a soul-thief who
gypsy dances
her way though mid-
winter madrugadas seducing
me to desperation
with silken slipknots
between each
shadowed star.

You can find the original version in Spanish here. I’ve kept a few words that just didn’t give the same feel in English: madrugadas are early mornings— think partying-all-night-till-three-or-four-a.m. early. Lunera itself comes from “moon,” but, well… two WordReference sites, a handful of language forums, Google translator and a Guatemalan boyfriend all failed me in finding a direct translation. (Thanks anyway, Omar. ;)) The sense of it, though, for me, is making the moon “personal,” i.e. addressing it more as a person  and less as a far distant chunk of rock. And it definitely has something to do with a lullaby.  ~jsl


Old, old loves
graffitied intricately into the decaying curves of stone-
struck corners describe the contours of a city
in heat, air-brushed by the Sirocco
and a whiff of drying citrus.
One has the feeling even an Augustine, in such a cauldron,
would never have found the need to confess.
Lost happily in streets
of summered serpentine,
strangers sense
this place has secrets, its
smell of dark underground desires, swaying
palm-scented footsore desires, whole
honeyed catacombs of desires: a
turbulent jewel
of something-more-than-not-quite-Italy
to a rusted future by nothing less than history, yet
etched so firmly into the imagination
that even a Virginia girl
on a snowy winter’s night
remembers with longing
the smoky staccato of her pulse.



grazie a Estrella Azul ed al suo post, Sleeping Beauty of Palermo, per l’ispirazione di questa poesia e per ricordarmi quanto mi ha mancato la incomparabile Sicilia  —jsl