Nail Chiodo

Lucus Feroniae II


At seventy-five, Aldo is the oldest of my confrères;
he is also the one who’s suffered the most wear and tear,
having spent almost all of his life struggling with illness.
His particular ailment—manic depression—is especially cruel
because it plays with the imagination and lends fuel
to the illusion that it may be but an imaginary sickness.
When its victim is someone as imaginative as he is,
the pain and havoc it wreaks is positively heinous.
But there is always a pinch of logic in madness,
as there is always a pinch of folly in love,
and Aldo is a lover like no other I know of.
His wild euphoria and unspeakable sadness
are as the two sides of a spinning coin:
quenching, smothering the fire in his loins,
alone has stopped his mind, albeit briefly, from reeling.

“Man was made to suffer” goes the saying,
“and woman was made to feel the pain”
continues the story upon further reading.
Undeniably, Aldo seduced both of his wives
and all of his mistresses, made their lives
as symbiotic with his own as he could;
which implied, of course, making them privy
to the private hell in which he was living
in greater detail than can have been good.
His numerous women, of whom I’ve had the honor
to meet more than a few, were practically goners
from the moment they first opened-up to him,
such was the strength of his hold on them.

All Aldo’s ladies could not solve his problem,
sooner or later they each had to give in;
together, however, they have kept him alive,
a labor of Hercules that in time gave rise
to one of the great literary accomplishments
of the century recently come to an end.
For my very friend is a veritable Prince Hamlet
whose complex writings conceal an attempt
to avenge the foul murder of his father.

He could not be content with apologies offered
by a society which still continued to breed
the same internecine violence that had sealed the fate
of his dad and uncle at the hands of the State.
Since then, there had been a change of regime,
the butchered siblings were acclaimed as heroes
and his family name was put right next to those
of the Fathers who had founded the Fatherland
in every street index throughout the country.
But, being thirsty for justice and hungry
for the freedom that true honesty demands,
nor could he pretend that everything had not changed
only so that everything might stay the same
yet again in the serial nightmare of history.

We met some thirty years ago through Michael,
a grand master–of whom I was the disciple–
in the art of putting the philosophical bisturi
to philistines, pharisees, and other tartuffes.
Strangers probably took us for three poofs
when we went out carousing together,
so did we revel in each other’s company.
The real nature of our intercourse trumped
even those who were closest to us, however,
for the bonding of certain artists with one another
is not unlike that between sisters and brothers
born as deaf dumb and blind Siamese twins.
More particular still since we were triplets,
we used our own private braille in order to get
to know one another tactfully, to conjointly spin
the thread of a shared awareness and conscience.

To the task of conducting our general conference,
we each brought a varied experience, wrapped in
characterological packaging that differed as did our ages.
With our forty-, thirty-, and twenty-five years, stages
of the life of man were represented that normally,
according to old wives’ tales of romance,
are associated with decreasing sexual performance;
in our case, instead, we were all still pretty horny.
Nor had it escaped our keen observation
that looks count—Aldo even clinched a relation
with the cisalpine clone of Romy Schneider—
but none was ever less homely than the Muse
and it was always She who did the choosing:
we had only to listen carefully to our desires
so as not to wind up in survival school.

After wallowing like walruses in the Roman pool
for those years when one still could do so,
before it turned far too overcrowded
with utterly unpalatable fish, “laudate
we now sing in the rare, carved-out hollow
still hallow enough to tread water in.
If only we could say our convictions were faltering,
that perhaps we’d been wrong from the start!
Our sharp tusks and thick skin spelt our demise:
no one, I think, was very surprised
the day the bold Davidsbund fell apart.
In our hearts, however, we could never give up
making practice against Goliaths lilliputian!