Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine


Transition Hendecapoem
Alessio Zanelli


Transition End


Pensive, on the cusp. A place to be alone.

In bad company, though. No one believes it’s

the time, or scans the blue. All just scream and toss

like mad. They don’t know why but feel impelled to

scramble down. It is no common height. They can

find no path away, giddiness numbs their brains

and melts their legs. Is this chastisement? I’ll have

to confront the upheaval pressed by throngs of

clueless loons. No more times of day, one endless

sunset. Impatient, edgy, yet home and dry.

Could what I’m watching be already sunrise?


*


Onset


None of the survivors remembers. It must

have been cold, sunny with a uniform snow

cover and a high albedo. Or else my

unconditional love for the White Lady

would be hard to explain. I delivered my

first cry in a delivery room of a

maternity hospital managed by nuns,

nowadays a luxury old people’s home.

I can only imagine mom’s joy, beyond

words despite the long pains and the C-section,

until her eyes alighted on my right foot.


*


Verdicts


To elect the left as my takeoff leg came

naturally, the very moment I stopped

crawling on all fours. It was certainly not

such a minor anomaly to blame for

my sporting failures. Ballgames never were my

forte, teams annoyed me. I was a loner,

but for the rest a defiant kid like most.

Luminaries had expressed discordant views.

In the end my parents, haunted with doubts, did

not give full credit to either. Lucky me.

Decades later roads would pass final verdicts.


*


Rhaetia


The time came to put head and legs to the test,

challenge the giants looming in the distance.

The manifold infinities could wait. It

took Tiberius and Drusus less than a

year to make it a province. I find treasures

to this day, as I walk through the steep defile

to the brink between two worlds. Down one side a

tear will swell the Danube, down the other one

the Po. At the foot of awe-inspiring walls,

above the smugglers’ track, gentians try man’s trust.

Those slopes and crests have branded me deep inside.


*


Mesozoic

To call them heroes may be regarded as
an overstatement, but that's precisely what

they are to me. Back when I used to ramble
from bad to worse, incapable of telling

Cerces from Calypsos, they often banged me
out of trouble with their mighty roar. Eras
have been kind to them. After over half a
century, the dinosaurs' merry-go-round
is still revolving freely, to the delight
of most ultramodern, sophisticated,
mammal-like parasites who'd want them extinct.


*


Iliad


Get it together. Tidy yourself up. Put

on a winning smile. Make a nimble approach.

Don’t look awkward or stilted. Break the ice. Try

not to stutter or clutter. Avoid clichés.

Use pauses. Go easy on wittiness, a

bit of banter is fine, too much is baleful.

Wait for a reply. How many times did I

revise this hendecalogue? Probably not

enough. Why has it always been as tough as

laying siege to a city? I thought I was

Odysseus, but I was Agamemnon.


*


Odissey


Ithaca does not exist. It must remain
a fancy, dragging us on, from league to league,
alert to reefs, shallows, tempests, mermaids. An
eternal token of all that we pursue,
which shifts away as we draw near. Tenebrous
landfalls, I've sighted many. Some I've shunned, and
some I've rushed into. I never ran across
Tiresias, and if I had, I wouldn’t
have inquired about my future. Neither faith
nor fate. Dreams, at last, have made me plot my course.
We're through what we're through to be right where we are.


*


Pheidippides


They say you never forget your first. True. I

tend to forget all the others, except the

last. The roads you run on, the towns you traverse

and the hills you ascend, they all have no name.

The final destination is always the

same. And to think I started it almost as

a joke. I didn’t plan on such a mileage,

nor did I imagine it was my bag. I

don’t bring good news. Before, I didn’t know where

the coastal plain of Marathon was, nor had

I ever heard about hemerodromi.


*


Homes


The old roundabout had long been my passion.

I wished to pay a visit to the real

place, where it had spun from. I've paid quite a few.

I’ve seen the circles, the squares, the dales, the moors.

Now I know what I’ve seen is a second home.

And not too far from home, what a twist of fate,

one day I found a gorgeous piece of it, as

if waiting for me. My missing half, which I

was looking for, and which had left home in turn

a fifth of a lifetime before. Twin loves and

twin firesides, that’s what Albion means to me.


*


Farewell


The rushes to the hospital seemed like a
distant memory. Commuting between home
and the OAT lab was the new routine.
The sea was calm again, even too flat. No
one suspected the weather change underway.
Clouds had been gathering unseen beyond the
horizon. A vast disturbance, no normal
storm, which soon occluded the sky. To its depths.
Acclimatized to downpours, then regular
rain, at last soft drizzle, utter stillness took

us by surprise. Till we had to let her go.


*


Transition Start


I go visit the precinct at random, now
and again, driven by instinct. If there are
people, I normally don't enter. I like

it deserted, at the close of day. It makes

me hyperreactive, expands my mind, but

only if I stay amid the yard. A while.

Those walls of grave plaques cause me catalepsy.

I could do nothing there for more than a few

minutes. To transit the abode’s heritage,

reach past and rise up, I must be quick, then walk

away. Each time return a perfect stranger.