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Esmerelda! The bells! The bells!

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Thirteen years since triumph.  Ten since lament.

This week is Rome's birthday.  The Eternal City, she is 2,769 years old.  And this week, on a not-quite-unrelated note, they're unveiling the new frieze along the Tevere, by William Kentridge.  It's all over Facebook, it's all over Wanted in Rome, and it's all over the biodinamico-crazy grapevine of artsy expats from Monti to Monteverde.  But no one (at least no one I have heard or read, though I will confess I could have read far more than I let myself read) has mentioned that someone — or someones — did something exactly like this about ten years ago.


These photographs were taken in April of 2006.

100_1710 100_1708

I was here in April of 2006, but barely.  April of 2006 was a few weeks before I had to leave Italy, because my mother and my father and my brother didn't think anything of telling a grown woman she should give up a life she loves, in a country she adores, to go and live by herself in a country she doesn't (love, adore, etc.), for the eight-odd years it will then take her to sponsor her parents for immigration (to that country she doesn't love, adore, etc.).  All these years later, I don't have closure on that story.  How can you have closure on a story when two of the three antagonists are dead, and the third doesn't even know who I am?


I have no photographs from April of 2003.  But in April of 2003 there was a river and a city, just like there has almost always been a river and a city.  In April of 2003 there were layers, a palimpsest already, a palimpsest in the making.  In April of 2003 I had not met Ciro, I had not found Simarik, I had not learned to make spaghetti aglio olio peperoncino with my eyes closed — or even with my eyes open.  I could not know what would come — from Campi Bisenzio to Cortona, from terra-cotta tile to tufo in my kitchen and mold in my bathroom, from Webpuccino Wanda to Sally Spilatrice.

The hope is that, [as] people walk the extent of these 500 meters, they will see images of the history they find both familiar and transformed in some way.

I could not know how many bags I still had left to pack, how many homes I still had left to leave, what I would make and what I would break and what I would lose.  I would not have believed you, if you'd told me how much grief, how much goodness, how much gelato.

The music of Triumphs and Laments is a music of exodus, of tragedy, of hope.

Maybe, about the gelato, I would have believed you.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Le Volpi e L'Uva, Firenze]
[mercoledž 27 aprile 2016 ore 17:13:17] []

One year since the warrior.  Two days since the prince.

I came into this month thinking there would be only one gone person to write about.  One a month is more than enough.

Tracy died soon after a long fought civil war.

And then there is the appleness and orangeness of it.  On the one hand, you.  You with whom I have slept.  Not in that white person way of saying We Slept Together, but in that brown person way that has to do with the fact that there was only the one bed in my crappy little studio apartment by Termini, that you were in transit to somewhere else in Europe (Copenhagen, perhaps?), that ghetto sleeping arrangements have always ranked among the things that Pakistanis do best, and that it was a double bed anyway yaar.

I guess he's better off than he was before.
A whole lot better off than the fools he left here.

You with whom I have sketched intellectual skyscrapers into a Roman night sky, talked trash about people who think The Secret is all that, lamented the lack of good wine among Karachi bootleggers.

Those kind of cars don't pass you every day.

You, Aunty Jo's granddaughter.

Springtime was always my favorite time of year.

You, the only person I ever said I would be excited about working with, if I ever had to move to Pakistan.  You, who listened to my ideas for those things I wanted to do and said chalo then, what are you waiting for?

Always cry for love, never cry for pain
He used to say so strong unafraid to die

You from whom I still have an email in my Inbox.  Unanswered.  Unanswerable.

Unafraid of the death that left me hypnotized.

You who wrote: I read your article in the DAWN Review today.  Laughed, cried, laughed, cried, and finally just wanted to hug you.  It was wonderfully well written, straight from the heart, very real, and so YOU.

Sometimes it snows in April.
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad.
Sometimes I wish that life was never ending.
But all good things, they say, never last.

You telling your driver that night, that you would drive home.

And love, it isn't love until it's past.

You, gone and everywhere at the same time.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giulio Cesare, Santa Marinella]
[sabato 23 aprile 2016 ore 17:13:17] []

All manner of odd things: foraging from an interview with Kimiko Hahn...

...mostly and miscellaneously about the Japanese form zuihitsu, and this idea of writing that incorporates a sense of process, movement, juxtaposition, collage.

For example, the fact (according to Hahn), that zuihitsu has no Western equivalent, but that (and this is so very interesting for you, so resonant with the map in your mind of where this kind of form lies, what lies around it, what you love about what lies around it, why you are drawn to these places, again and again and again), some people might wish to categorize it as a prose poem or an essay.

Or the idea that this is a kind of randomness that is not really random, but [one that evokes] a feeling of randomness.  And here you think of David Markson.  Here you think, “of course.”  (Here you think, “I must read more David Markson.”)

Or this talk of lists and journals and letters and diaries — real and invented.  The idea of collage and combinatory texture.  The idea of an organizing principle (instead of a subject or theme).  The idea of genre boundaries broken down.  (And here you think, “yes, yes, and yes.”)

How this — My pieces that resemble a diary are far from a record of whatever I was doing that day — makes you think of this — So the point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record of what I have been doing or thinking.

How you must go back and read Sei Shonagon again.  (How that sounds: Sei Shonagon again.)

For example, this notion of what a poem should look like — subverted.  (And how you must read PatersonIt gave so much permission!)

Or this idea that (prose) paragraphs seemed to absorb the sentimentality in a way that a lineated poem could not.  How much you would have liked to have had this idea already articulated inside you, this past January in a room in the Hotel Posada de las Monjas, in downtown San Miguel de Allende.

And this idea of a self (and a piece) being full of reachings in various directions.  Of no single, central point, not a dominant center, but interacting parts.  Of things being partial.  The anxiety and ambiguity of things being partial.  And look, think, what about it?  What if you thought, really thought of each poem, each piece, as an inventory?  An incomplete inventory of interacting parts?

How here, of course, here too, you find Calvino.  How you must go back and read Six Memos again.

For example, this: Also, leaving things partial can either be or be akin to synecdoche. Iíve read that Japanese refer to such suggestion as fragrance, kaoru.  You donít need to say everything, because the fragrance will continue, and you can keep experiencing what the fragment suggests even after the piece formally closes.  Just because something is partial doesnít mean that the whole is not, somehow, present.  It just means that something is not going to be fully extended or even fully realized as an image.  In putting together Mosquito and Ant, I wondered how much could be left out before losing, completely, the sense of a piece.  Which reminds you of this: you could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood.

For example, this: In the last piece, “Conspiring with Shikishi,” you quote not only her poems but those of the predecessors who influenced her, and then you respond in turn.  So it sets up this wonderful chain of responsiveness, which raises the whole idea that writing is itself a form of reading, a form of responsiveness.

Or this idea that you donít have to understand something for it to be a pleasure.  (And maybe sometimes, you mustn't.)

This idea that the journey itself is a home.  Remember that little one.  Through all of this.

This idea that it has to do with just loving words.  Remember that too.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giulio Cesare, Santa Marinella]
[martedž 19 aprile 2016 ore 19:20:20] []

A third of the way in.

It's 11:11.  You make a wish.  Please let this be the beginning of the beginning.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giulio Cesare, Santa Marinella]
[domenica 03 aprile 2016 ore 11:15:25] []