Quick! A last poem before I go / off my rocker
The Italians are getting older.
That diet of theirs is a demographic killer.
They’re pottering around on the edge of the cliff:
Che bello! the old people say, che bello!
They have no intention of leaping off.
They’re going to live for another decade, at least.
They absolutely refuse to die.
The young have departed,
They’ve taken up work
in Tooting, Vauxhall and the City —
Gianni’s working in a Sushi restaurant.
Leaving their mothers under the psychedelia of
bougainvillea and those long avenues of oleander.
There are no jobs for the young on the Riviera.
Don’t eat the oleander mother. It’s poisonous.
Of course we won’t carissimo, we’ll eat more fish
and jangle our bangles.
The only young men in Liguria are Nigerians.
Strong, wiry, loquacious Nigerians.
They’ve been sent up from Lampedusa.
In Libya guns were pushed against their heads.
They were treated like slaves.
The world is not a kind place
but nevertheless the world is succulent.
Our people are dying
but the Italians on the Riviera live forever.
I’m English by the way, not Italian.
Oh, said Victor, I have an uncle in London.
I’m from Abuja. Greetings.
I am Victor from Abuja on the Italian Riviera.
Have you read Marinetti?
Fillipo Tomaso Marinetti —
Zang Tumb Tuuum
Italy is a land of the dead, a vast Pompeii,
white with sepulchres. We will destroy the museums,
the libraries, academies of every kind.
He didn’t destroy the old people on the Riviera.
Zang Tumb Tuuum —
Where’s mad Marinetti when you need him?
Sometimes they pull Mussolini put of his grave,
put him on a balcony and shout Death or Glory.
It doesn’t do much good.
The churches and the villas and the defunct kings
of Italy and the lachrymose marbled floors and
the chandeliers all crystallised in this everlasting grimace.
MAN ALONE ON EDGE OF THE FOREST
I thought Desert Island Discs was a kind of game.
When they said I had to go to a desert island
I asked if I might have a garden.
That was my luxury.
It’s turned into a forest now
and a wave came up the beach and washed away
the discs. Managed to save Leonard Cohen’s
‘I’m Your Man’
I know it by heart and I croon it at night
when the alligators flirt.
Everything’s shit and I met a pink pelican
who’s writing a book about lactose intolerance.
I haven’t smoked a cigarette for weeks.