Peter Hughes: Berlioz (Part 5)



but the border police
& over-excited immigration officers
in their new uniforms
egged on by the gutter press
had meanwhile hatched the notion
that I was sneaking back & forth
between commie France
& regal Italy
in order to foment revolution
it was time to move on
& in spite of my high-tech hardware
& green comfy software
the currents of life & art began to
dissolve the grains of hatred
lodged between my teeth


I can't say when my daring plan
softened to old ideas
but I know that for a magic month
I wandered in & out of Nice
through air full of its own music
I watched the sea from orange groves
& vines of sunlit hills for days
that grew inside me like leaves
alone I wrote as naturally
as a shoal turns in the tide
& I turned towards Rome


after enduring gang-show opera
down through the peninsula
I arrived in Rome in time
for the feast of Corpus Christi
what treats were now in store
what heavenly aesthetics
a circus trundling into town
would have breathed more spirituality
than this confectionary warehouse
wrapped in whorehouse curtains –
& the music
a capella elephants
jostling to be first back up the Alps
echoed like brays & slaps off each
soft cheek of the Virgin


in Rome we did what students do
make a racket & wish they were in Paris
(except the ones in Paris
who yearn for New York)
we stepped around the famous sites
ten years since John Keats died
arranged excursions to the local wines
planned longer trips to Venice & Milan
Florence    Naples    Palermo
Rome & the Academy left me cold
except for the shadows of the Colosseum
& the resonances of St. Peter’s
it struck a chord in me forever
& I would step into serenity
as I left the heat of the city
for the cool beauty of elsewhere
I’d unpack some Byron
squat in an accommodating confessional
& read through spacious marble silence
the daft & burning passions
of our wine-dark   wine-soaked hearts
until the dying of the light


the best days in Italy
were those spent walking
away from myself
along the lanes & tracks
that led from the city
across the plains of Lazio
towards the hill country
moving up into Abruzzo
in an old straw hat
& my pottering shirt
I’d grab a gun or guitar
& follow my unmissable nose
my head & tongue were heavy
with Virgil & key change
the ecology of orchestration
I stirred myself to tears
singing & composing
in the footsteps of the bard
I wept for Turnus & Lavinia
& I sang glittering armour
into being in the corners of my eyes
those walks were the only
perfect compositions of my life
the significant tremor of reed
gut & skin tuned to weather


I listen to bits of that
tinny pimp Rossini
with my knuckles
tuned to my teeth

I would rather have rusty skewers
hammered into my hips
than listen to one of his operas

Beethoven tends to come up
through the bowels like a
good suppository

I find I have to swallow
with consideration for timing
when listening to Mozart

the better the work
the more of my body is in my ear

originality in art
tends to be the juxtaposition
of several incompatible


each track & wood was
overshadowed by the Apennines
a monastery bell from the next valley
someone shouting behind a hut
a raucous bird coughing in a dead bush
just enough variety & dissonance
to help you recognise the planet
the music of the Abruzzi
is played with enormous verve
& self-confidence with each player
in tune irrespective of the others
& playing with impeccable timing
unlike one's colleagues
the bagpipes will make you forget
your future they just go in one ear
& stay there


don't forget to get ripped off
on a day trip from Naples
you can go anywhere
I went to Nisida
they emptied my wallet
treated me to a dinner so big
I could have sat in it
& lifted my feet from the floor
they felt guilty afterwards
& scurried around with much
furtive shouting before
presenting me with a keepsake
the biggest onion in the world
no I have not


it's always worth
popping into churches
& other sites
of uneasy need
& ambition
the music of yearning
of affiliation
or stomach-clenching
you can watch
expressions   postures
reflections & arches
& hear the loss
echoing through our rooms
the bigger the building
the greater the emptiness
underlined by every
art under the sun


This is a wonderful blog, which I have bookmarked for perusal at a later date. There is so much to mull over, but I shall return to say a little more. Perhaps you could visit the poetry at my site.

Thank you.
Post a Comment

<< Home

  • Twitter
  • Intercapillary Places (Events Series)
  • Publication Series
  • Newsreader Feed