Pagination in Puglia

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Steady pistons, fields of olive, isometric silence, legionnaires on smartphones, antihistamines, de Chirico, conical trulli, acoustic sprinklers, solar expectations, white bedclothes & the heel of Italy.


Masseria Potenti I

Birds wake to heat of day
Break thru ambience to a stone finish
Ding of pans from kitchen
Cicadas’ steady piston
Awake in an old world
Messapian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Norman, Saracen
Survivors of a hundred schools of conquest
A brigand culture of resistance
Following the ancient ways
To school one day

Learning is a matter of cultivation
Olive oil, wine, octopus and fish
Land and sea a mirror image
Lasting out sun in the south
Where in the world do you feel like this
Ludicrous, half-baked and strange
Until a cup of coffee
A light breeze
Sets the table
Chases out last night’s dreamsCompass Rose

Masseria Potenti II

Cicadas mid-morning
A kind of acoustic sprinkler
Inside, isometric silence
In the head, a missing cap
Substitutions sustain the band
A world away
This old one following tradition
That new one busting at the seams
People, dates, meanings, cycles, drama
Expectation moving with the sun

Capital, that hungry ghost
Moving from city to city
Homeless in its wake
Professionalism, a contagious disease
Feverish game plans
Torn ligaments
Lost tribe
The whole earth
Spins on its course
The harmonic vacuum of spaceCompass Rose

Nina Trulli I

Sun-bleached Puglia
Morterless limestone walls
Great fields of olive and grape
A brigand chieftain commanded four hundred men
Secretly dined with the prince
Whitewashed farmhouses and conical trulli
Laughing-eyed, fine-boned women and sturdy, good-humored men
Road workers in orange suits under a blistering sun
Roundabouts funnel traffic across a network of hubs
Sant’Oronzo presides from high atop his obelisk by the Piazza della Libertà at Ostuni

Unable to park in Lecce
Pizza slices served by two cheerful brothers in Manduria
Live lobster and fish for the choosing at table on the beach at Porto Cesareo
Exquisite cheeses, cured meats, garden veggies at Nina Trulli
The light
Fading toward afternoon
Evening out the bumps
Throwing white bedclothes
Over the mind
Under the antihistaminesCompass Rose

Nina Trulli II

Zinc oxide missing
Interdependence day
Assembled links
Narrow road to the north
Chill out in stone hut
The infinity pool circulates
Oregano, lavender, lemon verbena, rosemary, thyme
Help yourself
Immunization airflow
Dynamic mapping

Three score and ten years ago
A gleam in the eye
Cried out
Just-in-time delivery
Still going strong
Despite itself
Joint pain
A reminder of regular form
Introspection
The world goes along for the rideCompass Rose

Polignano a Mare

A new city built on hard rock
Grotto hideouts
Get off the boat and swim
The history of pop
What every teen should know
Tickling the ivories
Open to currents
Moving under the surface
With octopus, shrimp and squid

On a note of solitude
A festival sacred and profane
Always both one and the other
Takes place
Quietly at first
Gradually swelling on waves
Crowding the harbor
Lights, music, fireworks
The wearing of masks
All that can be doneCompass Rose

Roma I

Left phone on plane
Bureaucracy, grief
Insane heat
Sound from the street
Hare Krishnas parade below our hotel window
Walk to dinner
Several blocks in wrong direction
Hard to reframe the mirror image
African vendors, tourists mob the Trevi Fountain
The Pantheon, Roman legionnaires on smartphones

Too hot, squabble
Finally, darkness
Gregory’s Jazz Club
An excellent Italian quartet
Guitar, piano, bass & drums
Cool air, rum & Cokes, we chill
Return to Hotel White
Read in bed
Boil water for tea
Electrical renditions of timeCompass Rose

Roma II

Zinc oxide found
Confessions of a scatterbrain
De Chirico’s Hector and Andromache in the moment of parting
Their shoulders columnar stubs
Unable to embrace
A poignant classicism
Debit card lost, reported, canceled
All in a day’s error
Crossing into the shade to consult the map
The way back always seems shorter

Art is the philosophy of nothing
Said Lucio Fontana
Which is not a destructive nothing
But a creative nothing
The freedom to conceive art through any means
An art of slashes and holes
Openings onto the anxiety of being lost in space
The space between one thing and another
Between one word and the next
The space between the earsCompass Rose

Roma III

The lion, the rooster, the tower, the palm
The sun, the crescent moon, the stars
Ears of wheat, the tree, the crown, the flowering branch
Heraldic symbols of the Roman Jews
Signaling strength, the Lion of Judah
The choice between good and evil
The Tree of Life
Divine law
The staff of Aaron, a flowering branch
Green, red, yellow and blue panes casting sunlight into the house of God

In 1639, Umm Kulthum is just a sparkle in the eye of the Sphinx
The mouth of the Licking River is forested beside a few burial mounds
Documents falsify the actual occurrence of multiple irreconcilable incidents
Across Africa and Southern Asia temperatures reach record peaks
Bernini does the sets for a Monteverdi opera
Milton is in the audience
Cochineal dye from Oaxaca has been listed on the London and Amsterdam stock exchanges for fifty years
Heavy fog covers Japan
A meteor lands in the Great Salt Lake
Tulip prices dramatically collapseCompass Rose

DY 7077 Rome–Oakland

Birds wake to heat of day
A kind of acoustic sprinkler
Great fields of olive and grape
Narrow road to the north
The history of pop
Walk to dinner
Debit card lost, reported, canceled
Divine law
Following the ancient ways
Expectation moving with the sun

Learning is a matter of cultivation
Moving from city to city
Live lobster and fish for the choosing
Just-in-time delivery
Quietly at first
An excellent Italian quartet
An art of slashes and holes
Heavy fog covers Japan
The wearing of masks
The space between the ears


Kit Robinson was born in Evanston, Illinois, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, went to Yale and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area ever since. He is the author of Thought Balloon (Roof), Leaves of Class (Chax), Marine Layer (BlazeVOX), Determination (Cuneiform), The Messianic Trees: Selected Poems, 1976–2003 (Adventures in Poetry) and twenty other books of poetry. His collaboration with Ted Greenwald, A Mammal of Style (Roof), was named among “the best poetry of 2014” by the Chicago Tribune. He lives in Berkeley, California, and plays Cuban tres guitar in the charanga band Calle Ocho.

Lead image: Tristan Hess

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