Black Florentine - Buenos Aires, 9th of July, 2011 - Currency - Non Capisco Più Niente - Flowers - Mexican Samadhi

Black Florentine


I don't pretend to know what they know

the darkened street, the grubby sale

the things they’ve had to do to survive


I don't intend to thrive on borrowed tales

of Victorian subterranean Baudelaire

transposed on African skin — Beware


Beware! His Nubian eyes, his Rasta hair!

to shock and excite the suburban tourists

in search of things they cannot know


All I can say is that I saw them in the park

furtive groups hiding from the carabinieri

and in the streets selling bangles and scarves


All I can say is that amid all the chaos

Darfur refugees and the endless murk of Congo

here in Florence I remain entirely in the dark



Buenos Aires, 9th of July, 2011


On the corner of Córdoba and the 9th of July

you can be forgiven for thinking that the world's a stable thing,

that sophistication and the wide boulevards of St. Germain and Fifth Avenue

will always lead to prosperity and art.


The Two Towers may fall, and Mordor may increase its holdings,

but Zurich and Buenos Aires will prevail.

Castro and the Taliban can do their worst,

but who wants to wear their baggy clothes

and preach their worn-out doctrines

when you can watch the women go by

on the corner of Córdoba and the 9th of July?



In the dust and ruin of the ancient civilizations

where entire economies collapse

and dirhams and rupees fall

into a treardrop pond of infinite zeros

the tourist rises from his cab

like the Canadian dollar

and strolls into the bazaar


Non Capisco Più Niente  


When I was young and first began to travel,

I thought that one day, if I kept travelling

I'd become a polyglot.

But now, forty years later,

surrounded by the beauties of Campo de' Fiori,

I find that I'm not.


I thought that if I travelled widely

I'd encompass the world;

that its riches

and its deepest secrets would be unfurled

before my staggered eyes.

But now, forty countries later,

I just look at the girls.



think of these flowers

think of their perfect shapes

and their chaotic yearning

how they emerge from the centre

from the sap of life

from the roots and branches of time

how the purple swells outward into space

along a sidewalk of two thousand years

in Agrigento, Sicily

agri flowers.jpeg

 luxuriant, decadent, unbuttoning their buttons

popping from the sweet sad passion of blue and red

out from the green stem

like love blossoming on a perfect day


in dimensions unknown to us flowers mate

and open their beauty to every wandering Jack and Jill

who are so busy going up their hill

they forget to smell the roses

until their souls lift from the earth

and it's too late

Mexican Samadhi


Lord Shiva makes a Brief Visit to the Italian Coffee Company

in the Zócalo of Oaxaca City,

January 24, 2009.



What's there to do

but live in the present

with all its catalogues of history,

with all the things that brought us to where we are?

Here in the present. Nada mas.


But the present isn't a fixed point;

it's in constant motion, contracting and expanding.

All the molecules of history move around it

and take us from where we are

to somewhere else.


These points are simple and obvious.

But to get the hang of the moment,

to flow from moment to moment,

to get that easy balance between now and then and what's to come

requires an insight even the gods dream of. 


Next: La Bellezza

Back to the top of this page

Poetry Contents