Black as coal,
night swallows it whole.
Drowning in darkness, its beak
(a fleck of light) pecks at the sky: tin,
tin. It opens. The sun comes roaring in.
Er merlo (Blackbird)
Nero come er carbone
la notte se l’ignotte in un boccone.
A mollo ar nero fino ar collo, er becco
(un petalo de sole) bussa ar celo:
er celo s’apre – e sorte un sole intero.
The Illiterate Fish
Someone dropped a book
in an aquarium. The fish,
illiterate, darted away
from m and b, zig-
zagged around h and p
but in the end z
snagged it on a hook.
Er pesce anarfabbeta (The Illiterate Fish)
Er silabbario casca ne l’acquario.
Er pesce anarfabbeta
sfugge all’emme e a la bi,
schiva l’acca e la pi:
ma resta preso all’amo de la zeta.
Marc Alan Di Martino is a Pushcart-nominated poet, translator and author of the collections Still Life with City (Pski’s Porch, 2022) and Unburial (Kelsay, 2019). His work appears in Palette Poetry, Rattle, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox, Valparaiso Poetry Review and many other journals and anthologies. Currently a poetry reader for the Baltimore Review, he lives in Italy. Marc’s full-length collection of Mario dell-Arco translations is forthcoming from World Poetry Books (2024).
Mario dell’Arco is the pen name of Mario Fagiolo (Rome, 1905-1996). Dell’Arco wrote in romanesco, the dialect of the Roman people, and was perhaps the last great poet in a lineage that includes Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, Trilussa and Crescenzo Del Monte. Dell’Arco’s poetry is epigrammatic in style, intensely personal and abounding in rhyme and wit. His work, translated into many languages, has been largely unavailable in English.