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Three Poems by Bill Yarrow

Autobiography In Italian

A 19 anni, ero seduto nei Giardini Boboli leggendo Mickey Spillane.
(At 19, I was sitting in the Boboli Gardens reading Mickey Spillane.)
Al 29, mi hanno mandato al Festival di poesia a Genova.
(At 29, they sent me to the Poetry Festival in Genoa.)
A 39 anni, frequentavo la padrona di Leopardi, travestita dalla saggezza.
(At 39, I was attending to Leopardi’s mistress, ill-dressed in wistfulness.)
A 49 anni, il mio unico compagno era Ingrid Bergman nelle sue vesti Rossellini.
(At 49, my only companion was Ingrid Bergman in her Rossellini robes.)
A 59 anni, sotto i cieli di Dante, sopporto placida inferno del decadimento del corpo.
(At 59, under Dantean skies, I endure the placid Hell of the body’s decay.)


The Protoplasm! The Protoplasm!

I should know Propertius! Edward thought
and commenced a study of the poems
in which he saw his second love
as clear as first firmament in the mind.

I must petition the blood! Edward mused
and commenced a scourging of his flesh
through which he remembered
the darkness following dirty Judas.

The heart of archness is betrayed!
Edward felt and commenced a counting
of the times proud Faust slowed
down and took his raging pulse.

Propertius is too obscure, scourging
hurts, archness has no heart; let me instead
forbear and descend into the blistered quiet
and the intoxicated calm, Edward decided.


How Poets Die

Mark Strand

over decades
a steady diet of diction
enlarged his heart

one day it just burst

Robert Frost

a crazy idea
that he could
build a wall
without mortar took
possession of his mind

he piled stone
on stone higher
and higher until
they toppled over
crushing him beneath

Wilfred Owen

a bullet (not his own)
to the brain

Dylan Thomas

many believe he died
from alcohol poisoning

that’s not so
early on his brain caught fire

and it took twenty-two years
to burn itself out

T.S. Eliot

hardening of the
sensibility

Allen Ginsberg

run over
by New Jersey

Wallace Stevens

overdose
of indemnity

William Carlos Williams

He (an obste
trician)              died

when
he dis
       covered

he could
                                no
                                               l o n g e r

          de   live   r

John Berryman

jumped off
Hart Crane’s
                              bridge

Hart Crane

born
without ears

it was only a matter of time


Bill Yarrow, Professor of English at Joliet Junior College and an editor at the online journal Blue Fifth Review, is the author of The Vig of Love, Blasphemer, Pointed Sentences, and five chapbooks. His work also appears in the anthologies Aeolian Harp, Volume One; This is Poetry: Volume Two: The Midwest Poets; and Beginnings: How 14 Poets Got Their Start. He has been nominated eight times for a Pushcart Prize. More information about Bill can be found on his website: https://billyarrow.wordpress.com/

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