Maurizio Brancaleoni



Maria, the mother, felt lost in the gigantic aquarium. Across spaces of shadow and light big azure fishes shook their fins causing little earthquakes inside the huge glass parallelepipedon. We were hurled hither and thither, remained standing by a miracle.

‘Why didn’t you come on Friday?’ I asked her, prostrating before her, kissing her toes.

‘Scraps of my relatives showered the streets in Rio De Janeiro.’

‘That’s only poetry,’ I quoted in a tone of contempt a politician I had heard speaking on the radio months ago.

‘Quit assholing and venerate me so that I can throw you in the mud.’

‘So, anyway, what detained you Friday?’ I pressed her, or so I thought.

‘On Friday I don’t even move to breathe,’ she replied. Then she slapped me on the cheek with one hand and offered me a present with the other.

I lay down on the pebbles, stroked the seaweed. It was time to live, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it, so I decided, irresponsibly blissful, that I’d waste all my time only because I had the right to.

At that moment burgundy felines appeared on the cardboard backdrop and rushed to Maria’s breasts. Once they had been fed, they mewed and growled for long, all around us. They belched, too. And swore, in their language.

In the distance old female country guitarists with unkempt hair roughened somber ground chords associated with Van Gogh and black youth traumas. On the right, boa-like bowels gathered along white corridors; official documents kept gushing from their depths, they lost them along the way.

‘Maria, Mariah, bist du taub?’ I asked her.

‘A lungo passo guadagnammo recinti e vicoli ricoperti dall’edera gentile.’

‘Mary, Maria, Mariah, what should I call you to be understood?’

‘There’s nothing to say,’ she answered. ‘Read here and you’ll understand.’

But there was no book where I could read.

‘Admit it, you’re a priest and wish to torture everyone,’ added Maria. Then she drew out a pair of big vulgar scissors from an invisible pocket and cut her hair: piles of black cirrumus accumulated everywhere and submerged everything in a few seconds. However, tubes and tubas – apparently friends because of the phonological similarity – managed to break through and gave me street directions.

‘Turn right forty times, turn left twenty times, go straight ahead for two crossroads and turn left twenty-five times.’

It sounded more difficult than I had expected, so I repeated the directions and asked if I had understood correctly; so it seemed, I turned to go, was called back.

‘You owe us one. At the least you must tell us a joke.’

‘A Swiss, a Thai, and an Italian go to a comic book shop,’ I began to unfold the Mystery of Life. ‘Or was it a coffee shop? Never mind, I can’t remember.’

‘Mothadoggone clown’ lip-talked a fish.

‘Sir, I don’t understand why you must speak so coarsely,’ another fish interjected. ‘If you could only make an effort to utilize untainted realistic bad language, but no, you scoundrels need to make up words, as though there weren’t enough in the dictionary.’

‘I’m sorry, sir, this is the author’s will.’

‘Tell him he forgot to turn off the radio.’

Now muddled chopped madrigals soundtracked majestic crown-bearing Queens Whales. One of them drew near to my bruised elbow and stated with unbelievable hauteur: ‘How balefully greedy is the eternal reality show of contemporary society! How facile, how obvious are the speeches of these winning young singers who can’t come up with an original idea all year!’

‘A beautiful exposition on Russian avant-gardes,’ said another, plainly moved, ‘did you go to see it?’

‘Shiver me thousand sperm whales, I got the runs!’ said a third one, and asked where the toilet was.

I answered that there were none and even if there had been any, they wouldn’t have suited a queen: she looked very disappointed.

‘Evaluate the possibility to do it in a corner,’ I recommended.

All of a sudden I was encircled by yellow and sky blue stripes; the fish were running after each other naughtykidly, terribly shaking the aquarium. I and Maria – now she was bald and charred – hit the glass, violet-bruising our bodies, stunning our limbs, shattering our bones.

Tar, slaughterhouse. Flesh.


Writer and translator, some of his poems and short stories have appeared in various volumes issued by Italian publishing houses such as Delos Books, Edizioni XII, Lettere Animate, LimanaUmanita and Freaks Edizioni. He has also translated Patrik Sampler’s “Kansai Airport” into Italian. In his bachelor’s thesis he investigated the intertextual relationship between the novel The Sorrow of Belgium by the Flemish writer Hugo Claus and Joyce’s Portrait, both examples of deviant Bildungsroman. Interviews, translations and reviews are regularly posted on his bilingual blog “Leisure Spot”:

Issue 1.0 Table of Contents