Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Rina Xhihani

Mar 13, 2021 | Front And Center, Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Italian by Pina Piccolo
Today I said twenty-three words

Today I said twenty-three words
Some people would say “a good twenty-three words”
others “ only twenty-three”
I have no wish to engage in judgement.
Plans seem to have made plans of their own
They have fled home
while the spring light
moves around the room, inhabits the edges of the furniture
and then leaves, like an ill-timed guest.
Classical music does not wed watered-down American coffee
Carver stories aren’t performing their duties
They continue to flow in your veins like pieces of glass
even after the words “The End”.
Just when you thought you had fenced in your restlessness
they creep out next to the foot of the cupboard.
Light dances around some more in the house and then returns where it came from.
while I sit here wondering whether I should have noted down
the twenty-three words i said
or the silence
that pops out, even after the words “The End”
like a little piece of glass
when you thought you had managed to fence in your regrets.

Chaotic Wars

We hung the CDs on the balcony, three rows of three,
in daytime they are meant to keep pigeons away
with all their brightness
At night time they play dead songs
During the day they bother the neighbors, I think
their glimmer keeps life away.
Once euphoria is digested, there is a great hunger for sounds
No longer bothered by the net, you hurl your gaze
hungrily beyond the street
to the sidewalks,
there, down there in the seminary’s deserted garden
construction has grown silent
The CDs continue to glimmer
The trees, resignedly hide the magpies
Dialogues slither apathetically
and stop on bitten fingernails
They make references
change their clothes, turn into sighs
They self-digest
and then expel- arguments- like foreign bodies
on a stage designed to be a celebration
While the CDs
three rows of three
under the indifferent sun
keep pigeons away with their shine
one more day
The streetlights are lit, one more night
Stars laugh at our impatience
our farsighted myopia.

When wordless reality lands
pain loses its romanticism.
Sounds wither away on the street
Like inconclusive endings of movies we shall not remember
The skies darken with flocks of birds that have forgotten to migrate,
Rooms are smothered in gestures
that have forgotten to live,
carnivorous plants sprout on the walls
-We, the hydrophobic, find no source in which to drown.
Dawns follow one another, the soul of the world
hurts me right here, on the tip of my fingers
It grows silent dragging itself lazily
while the pigeons snicker on the sly
The CDs hanging on the balcony, three by three
glimmer away
dead songs.

I Have No Time to Waste on the Future

I have no time to waste on the future
In these days abundant with time
In these days of imaginary escapes and real pain,
in which to be loved is not enough
it is useful to be told “you deserve it!”
These are days of forecasts
Days in which thinking of the future
seems to be the only way to prove we are still breathing.

I have no time to waste on the future!
Trees are trees today
and so are debts
Loneliness is loneliness today
and so are the derelicts
Anger is anger today
and so madness.

I have no time to waste on the future!
I have no time to waste on poems about the future
As far as I know
this may be the last one I write
The last one you read.

Panic attacks are attacks today
Tomorrow they may become
or simply scars
And scars are fascinating
only when they become the past

I have no time to waste on the future
now that thinking about it seems the only way
to prove to ourselves that we are breathing
when instead we are mutating
into old storage spaces chock full of junk
under seizure by imaginary tomorrows
that have forever disregarded any expectation
Letting trees turn into deserts
Debts into slavery
Loneliness into habit
Derelicts into ghosts
Shards into wounds
Anger into detention
And madness into shame.
I have no time to waste on the future!

Cosmos Atrosanguineus

Until a jar of pickled vegetables
a half photoshopped profile
a cat wrapped in a blanket
and a worn-out witticism
will be more attractive than a poem
I shall nurture my misanthropy
like it were a cosmos atrosanguineus*.

We have bestowed our blessings on dead branches
of life-giving trees
by placing them next to liquid crystal screens,
We have meditated interconnected with the world
sprawled out on our couches
while our failings kicked
inside the toothed coil of our hippocampus
We have smiled,
as we scraped the bottom of our ragout jars,
at the promises of hippy love,
uncurtailed curiosity,
dilating fictions
and virtual arms.

Until a lie with the right punctuation
or nonsense typed in the right font
will be more attractive than a poem
let me nurture my misanthropy
like it were a cosmos atrosanguineus.
Forced solitude doesn’t change the substratum,
by sweeping away the crust, we are delivered back to ourselves
“like we were before
more than like we were before”
(I am quoting a 1960’s Italian pop song, albeit without authorization)

*Go Google it yourselves, I am not paid to do remote teaching).


These poems were originally published in The Dreaming Machine magazine –

Rina Xhihani was born in Albania 34 years ago. At thirteen she moved to Italy with her family, where she lived in Milan, then in Paris and then returned to Reggio Emilia, where she still lives and practices law.
She has published poetry collections in Albenian and Italian. Her collection Cosmos Atrosanguineus is forthcoming in 2021, published by EtaBeta.
Meanwhile, she is enjoying the benefits of adulthood, like not overestimating happiness, appreciating silence, the ability to lose your cell phone without panicking, learning to write about nature. Poetry remains her only invincible vice.

Pina Piccolo

Pina Piccolo

Pina Piccolo is a poet, translator and cultural activist whose work has appeared both in Italian and English, both in print and online journals and anthologies.  She is one of the editors for the Italian language literary digital journal and the sole editor of the English language, transnational  literature and visual arts web magazine Her Italian poetry collection I canti dell’interregno was published in 2018 by Lebeg edizioni;  the manuscript of her English language poetry collection “Avatars on the Borderlands” patiently awaits any sign of interest from the publishing world.


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