"There is no road at all": Five poems by Davide Nota translated by Giacomo Lilliù

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"There is no road at all": Five poems by Davide Nota translated by Giacomo Lilliù

Poetry by Davide Nota in Translation from the Italian to English by Giacomo Lilliù

The Orphans

We must find us. On this foreshore
network. Inside these stains
of watercolors and pixels. In the sky’s
fraying. We still must find us.

The picture’s out of focus. A shadow
crumpled at the foot of the sea.
(I don’t know that myself, no: I don’t know…)
At the water’s forlorn edge
the fugitive seek refuge
and the weak a long sleep.

Just like orphans of the world
chained in the lifelong fever
of the day: this is it, yes, this is good…
But although the pipes are many
and the source is one
the origin, Giulia, is inside the siege.


San Lorenzo

Pour the evening lead
into the leaden evening, raise
this tumid scene.
Set up the streets, the cardboard buildings
into the leaden streets fire
your cannons’ blanks.



So there is some betraying thing.
If they return it’s in the shadows, silence-bound.
An afterlife of spit and greetings
where black cracks split the walls.

If she flees she won’t return and yet she changes
all the same, like a lake of ashes
in which she sinks her hands
with thirst for dew.

Will you take with you these November days?

There is no road at all.


(Inside the ancient landscape what tear,
what green-violet deconstruction?
Unstitched the cloth frays by.
Decompose the sky.
In the digital veil identify
the error.
Clutch the filmy hem.
Rip the vision’s bark.)



I rip the sky’s bark in
search for an origin.
The star is white. Damaged
cobalt blue.

Praise be to the father and the son
who return to the construction site.
Night of trams and fog.
Have mercy on me lord.

In front of this history
even the sun peels.
The leftovers of light.
Madonna of corrugated steel.

The evening stars.
Fog of violet dots.
Forest in black and white.
Reminiscence germs.



Let’s leave,
like a level of separation
to be shattered.


In every cavity to call
in shape of tear the missing substance.
To caress this appearance.
“Do I seek asylum? Decorum?”
Poet, what I want is what I ignore.
The horizons’ frame is saturated.
The ambience ridicule. Hollow the designated
possible. I dreamed
of a house that was not there and a sister
in the origin. But still you want to kiss
in such a way that dying
is no longer the arid bane. But the other
doesn’t exist.
And dreams cost money.


I learned glee from the wet sampietrini^,
the way home when it rains and late
the pale girl offering you her hand.
“Will they disappear?”. I don’t know, all has vanished,
and I too with it all as I seek
relief in a smashed-up tune.
In flames I’d like to see
the windows of call centers,
the temporary agencies,
and with Franciscan piety stoke
the fire with new fire.
But it will all fall back on us
who would have had a thirst
for fountain and for sun.


And San Lorenzo appears
in its own deconstruction
of wet sand.
We would have said: sure, forward,
so as to make a movement whatsoever.
The representation is safeguarded.

I want the best.
Should fire be just embers. And fountain
Remember. Green. Blue.
I wanted the best
from this generation smashed
on pills and medications.

Then surely we could easily burn
the old represented world,
but an enormous desert, newly-lit,
was surely not the goal of this guerrilla!
(The screenshot sky
gelidly objective)


And that night there appeared crosses ablaze.
A cemetery of bottles incomprehensible to most.
Landscape black and green
with infrareds and car lights.
We’d piss in line against the sea.
I’ll stay with my friends
till the end of the world.

^square cobblestones typically used as pavement in the historic centre of Rome. They derive their name from Piazza San Pietro.

Davide Nota was born in 1981 in Cassano d’Adda (province of Milan). He grew up in Ascoli Piceno, studied in Perugia and lived in Rome for some years. In 2015 he moved to Macerata. He has authored the poetry books Battesimo [Baptism](LietoColle, 2005), Il non potere [The Nonmastery] (Zona, 2007) and La rimozione [The Removal] (Sigismundus, 2011; currently updated to 2013). In 2019, Luca Sossella Editore edited his first novel, Lilith. Un mosaico [Lilith. A Mosaic].

Giacomo Lilliù (born 1992) is a theater director and actor. Trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, he has presented works in Italy, UK, Poland. He is part of theater company MALTE and co-founder of Collettivo ØNAR, a multidisciplinary group with whom he has realized PPSS, an adaptation project on Davide Nota’s novel Lilith. He considers translation as a fundamental aspect of his theater-making, authoring English versions of Italian plays as well as experimenting with the re-medialization and extemporization of literary, visual and technological sources through the languages of live arts.

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