Poem by Tiziana Colusso in translation

Italian for the Estranged

My tongue is burnt by vanities:

parasemantic epidemics
stick to my palate
exhaling from the daily ink,
from the velvet tongues of the worldly wise
that get round me by sailing around me
— or try to –

and at day’s end I take home
infinite sores and cankers
they hurt me for
from them I have no immunity
I’m choked by my status: extra-community –
boils on the borders of the word.

Father & stepmother tongue
tongue of weeds
tongue of town-criers and buyers and liars,
snare for loons, tongue that stuffs, with soap
operas and reality shows,
the void of reality; language of dépistage
tongue (compulsory to be à la page
experimental word-
games for the crossword page:
phatic fatigue that shifts stresses but doesn’t shift,
by one comma, the world).

On the table I’d wanted monastic
are heaped irreducible layers of trash:
bills, calligrams, junk-mail, invitations and invectives,
electoral brochures, sure-cures for dodgy chests.

Cicada tongue. Dead tongue. Broken tongue.
Nemmemo una parola per essere salvata
Glossites of glossolalìa (Amen).

Not even
the Esperantic promise of a perfect tongue
cures me
or a cabala of the elect
or a return to dialect
or passing the night sending
Jacopo Ortis’ last SMSs on my mobile.

Then one day someone
asks me to teach the tongue
for free to strangers.

Per straniati? Freely.

Translated from Italian by Brenda Porster, revised by Tom Pow