Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Peter Hughes, Petrarch [36; 40; 41; 44; 45; 56; and 58]


S’io credesse per morte essere scarco 

if I believed that death could set me free
from this unwinding universe of love
I’d connect the exhaust to my snorkel
& let the garage door crash down for good

but you’re never certain which dimension
you’ll wake up in these days what with
daily upgrades to the laws of physics
& cars running on healthy chip-fat fuel

you might just come to in intensive care
exhausted & clinically obese
wired up to NHS Word for Windows

better to let the tug-of-war go on
between Amor & the forces of Death
guess who they’re using instead of a rope


S’amore o morte non dà qualque stroppio 

if love or death don’t fuck it up
by making me a mumbling imbecile
another gormless poetry muppet
or just a corpse chilling down the Co-op

I’ll polish off this amazing sequence
which will be classy but bang up to date
& could find acclaim as far away as
Norwich or the rougher parts of Cambridge

but you need to let me have my books back
I can’t get on without the old masters
Italian English & American

I don’t need all the academic cack
but I need my Dantes & O’Haras
my James both Rileys & Ted Berrigan


Quando dal proprio sito si rimove 

there are so many versions of Laura
thanks to so many mythical creatures
that when she departs from her native glade
I hum along with the spectacularly dead

not forgetting their worthy successors
so almost everything evaporates
in the misremembered blues of her eyes
as the Scissor Sisters or was it Johnny

Hallyday so very nearly chanted
Julie London & Ella Fitzgerald
Eric Dolphy in Europe Volume 2

Vous êtes formidables Charlie Parker
with strings Sinatra Where Are You 
Laura won’t you just tell Cincinnati 


Que' che 'n Tesaglia ebbe le man sí pronte

even nasty bastards have a soft side
Mussolini collected toy meercats
Michael Gove licks his snake to sleep each night
George Bush whispered to bricks Pol Pot liked dogs

Fascist eyelashes tremble at Schubert
the lumps in their throats curtsey to the great
graphic novels of the quattrocento
& thick albino athletes made of rock

so how in heaven’s name can it be true
that someone of your sensibility
can see with perfect equanimity

my heart twitching to death in front of you
your eyes brim with irritability
but not even a micron of pity 


Il mio adversario, in cui veder solete 

after I’d invented mountaineering
& then the dark ages I decided
I’d try my hand at making up the self
ready for the rise of the bourgeoisie

first stare at an image in a mirror
become entangled in bright absences
banished to flatpack oblivion
at the back of some suburban warehouse

you add label after label until
you’ve made a 3D paper-mache
robot programmed by the Murdochs

then you end up addicted to updates
each vacancy replacing another
as your blood turns slowly into water


Se col cieco desir che 'l cor distrugge 

so they buffed up their fake gnostic proverbs
it is forbidden to find a lost sock
until you’ve first discarded its partner
(church affirms) & bees cause global warming

what evil spirit infiltrates the seed
& blights my crop so close to harvest
what beast is roaring deep within the cell
who left a hot tap on in the basement

dangerously high on non-hormonal hopes
I  stretched out to pluck the ripest plum
fell out of the fruit tree forever

autumn puts a cold hand up your jumper
Mr Waits growls back at the equinox
call no man happy till he’s dead he said


La guancia che fu già piangendo stanca

your bishopness should rest his head on this
attractive kneeler remembering
how wise it is to shun Amor & all
its tired & emotional devotees

then clutch the enclosed pamphlet to your heart
to reinforce a philosophical
position which avoids excessive ups
& downs remaining steady as she goes

my final gift is this simple wine glass
from which you may sip such oblivion
as may be smuggled past human senses

I hope you’ll keep the poem in your heart
as well as out in the wide wild world
where O’Hara said I must live forever

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