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Condemned to Irrelevance

Translated from the Italian by Peter Valente

Ah, how I would like every word of mine

to maintain a double meaning,

and all the elements of my verses to be optional!

Instead, this is not the case: I spoke seriously

with a clean and neatly dressed apostle of the S.D.S.

in a dining hall at Queen’s College. This spoiled kid didn’t hear a word.

A deep civic pain depresses me

when I see, in a corridor at 100 5th Avenue,

an official of the SNNC completely abandoned and ignored.

On the left I see a line of divided chairs, etc.,

and on the right a wall with a map

of the continent of Africa. The scene

could not have been more self-righteous. It is an empty gesture.

They have all the traits of NICE FELLOWS

but in me the ENGAGED POET suffers,

programming a certain quantity of double-edged meanings

and optional elements in an arrangement that has become

as arbitrary as the existing power structure.

Nothing is possible anymore. The spirit

of the antibody has exhaled all of you

and the antiseptic power of those in authority has won.


March 1969