Il Burchiello’s “Self Portrait as a Tasty Morsel”

in prison

I lie on this crappy table to rise like dough,
but putting me in the oven won’t work;
here are four little corners so dark
that I light them up with my hands as I go,

and I gnaw them like I had a dog’s fangs,
and I haven’t since been able to wash it down,
and I am here by I-know-whose petition,
but I’ve silenced the church bells’ clangs.

My body often rumbles and lets out such cries
that one day I get a response from a female dove,
thinking I was a male of her species—

sticks a head in, peers down into my grave,
launches in a plumb line straight down, and flies
halfway down, then explodes back up above.

“My lumbering fish, my love,”
I call after her, “if only I’d had a slingshot,
to make you up with cabbage tonight is what I ought.”

LXXVII

Lievitomi in sull’asse come ’l pane,
ma non posso ire al forno come lui:
ècci quattro cantucci tanto bui
ch’andando mi fo lume colle mane;
e parto colle zanne come ’l cane,
io non mi lavai po’ ch’io ci fui
e sonci a petition ben so di cui,
ma n’ho posto silentio alle campane.
El corpo m’urla spesso e fa rimbombo,
onde un dí mi rispose una colomba
la qual credette ch’i’ fussi un colombo:
e sbucò il capo e guardò giù la tomba,
poi prese un volo giù diritto a piombo
e volò infino a mezo e tornò a bomba.
S’io avessi una fromba,
diss’io: lasconaccia valdinera,
i’ ti farei col cavolo istasera.

Doug Basford

Douglas Basford is a poet, a translator, and the author of several critical essays and has received the Der-Hovanessian Prize from the New England Poetry Club, as well as the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, twice. His work can be found in The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry as well as the Diagram.4 anthology. Born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, he earned two MAs from Johns Hopkins University. Basford teaches at SUNY-Buffalo and lives in Buffalo with his wife.

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Author: Doug Basford

Douglas Basford is a poet, a translator, and the author of several critical essays and has received the Der-Hovanessian Prize from the New England Poetry Club, as well as the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, twice. His work can be found in The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry as well as the Diagram.4 anthology. Born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, he earned two MAs from Johns Hopkins University. Basford teaches at SUNY-Buffalo and lives in Buffalo with his wife.