Adriano Spatola is the author of The Position of Things: Collected Poems 1961-1992 (Green Integer, 2008).
1 in my father's tomb the gods have been buried for millennia in Crete Mycenae Mexico or Babylon and your task, young ephebe, is radically changed we're not talking about singing in chorus by the light of the moon nor pretending to the warmth of a bonfire shepherding a metallic herd we're talking about carefully observing and staying ready because from one moment to the next our father's tomb will break open and one shadow will move over the earth with the force of the lord who first made it possible who will destroy it in an embrace 2 the wound inflicted on the earth slowly heals the outraged generation dallies by the shores of Guadalcanal drinking vodka in Leningrad and whiskey in Piazzale Michelangelo playing jazz on the West Coast all this is very important all this must be remembered 3 A.S. from Diaries (London, British Museum) for days I was in the dark one night I suddenly opened the window over the piazza: the sun was rising (sun) and humans? they prayed stretched out under delicate automobiles while sewer grates sucked down the already blind children ah said the imploring enemies the angels grappling fire ladders dismantled the clocks on gothic spires telling the vengeance of time upon human hours the escape hatches were all already shut history lay in my bed with legs wide open although I was innocent like the rest 4 in the desert temple laboratory restless children prepare the definitive version tempted the last time by the fruit of knowledge in your womb they deposit the ovum to be fertilized the altar of sacred embrace is the metallic tower of the disinfected cavity introduced into your body what can a poet do but cultivate warts on his face you will see the air taste the fire touch the light mother earth created from our ambiguous love 5 and repeating the creation myth throwing men over one's shoulder so that they become stones the priest implores the divine seed (energy) (sun) semen encephalon of every living form time (fire) divine cause (vis viva) amoeba eternal splitting of its nucleus universes burned and recreated—manifold in the unity of repetition (actus) (energy) matter assumed into the city of god constant polium of every protoplasm lord of the negative and the positive of the numerator and the denominator of the part and the whole (ovum) a click will be enough to proliferate (semen) fertilization (fission) in your body you will conceive (the nuclei will have a total mass inferior to its origin) fission fertilization human hands reproduce god (the ovum splits) air fire light (sun that they adore) 6 he fixes the season lets his voice loose among the clouds makes lightening shine over the earth your and our destiny mother earth here is the orgasm of Shamash the victory of time when the universe's love will explode and the son of the sun will set his chained roots on the tower of Babylon when your belly will be rent by divine coitus and the trees will crack under the solar rain umén, uménaion, umén or uménai or all his strength in you and eros and thanatos the right and the left eye of his eternity confused in his one flashing glance 7 although your name may only be written backwards immanent not transitive cause wearily we gave ourselves to reconstruction so that violence would find new matter to feed upon a thousand times we destroyed stone with fire and with stone suffocated fire but now the eternal river uproots the dam of history spreads across the plain bringing you nothingness you who forced the first being to divide in order to renew the species while in him you sank softly like a stone in the mud and readied the inexorable fulfillment of the most unjust justice I have begotten in vain because the umbilical chord is the way taken by this your scorching parasite to infect the son after the mother they hang themselves from dead trunks who with a kiss betray the human race I seated in the midst of an overflowing river are those my brothers, down there, those I see evacuating? I count the corpses that follow the current down to the sea I ask myself what orchards will they fertilize because this is the demonstrable necessity lighting a dead man's breath to light your way as for the cow trying out-of-breath to climb back up the steep bank slippery with muck I have known the bovine god from since he visited the sacred prostitutes, over in Thebes I am that mummy in the Louvre (radioactive) it would vain to sprinkle grain in my eye-sockets or to eat of my flesh—touched by god next to me the serpent's sawdust awakens and the undeciphered inscription found in Assyrian halls speaks as the two-headed fetus floats knocking against the crystal vase vibrating in alcohol
From The Position of Things: Collected Poems 1961-1992 by Adriano Spatola, translated by Paul Vangelisti. Copyright © 2008 by Adriano Spatola and Paul Vangelisti. Used by permission of Green Integer Press.