Alfredo de Palchi
The Aesthetics of Equilibrium
Translated from the Italian by John Taylor
in collaboration with
ISBN 10: 1-879378-59-0
ISBN 13: 978-1-879378-59-9
Italian-English, 153 pages, $15
Author Biography | Read Selection
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ALFREDO DE PALCHI, in his 93rd year, has produced another stunning book after the cosmic obliteration of Nihil (2017). As in that book, The Aesthetics of Equilibrium leaps from a realistic setting into a fantastic panorama, this time revealed in sixty-four prose poems arranged in four sections. "The Fall" presents the author losing his balance, falling backward on the sidewalk, breaking his hip and feeling his "animal heart" and "porcine valves" respond to a life threat. "Destination Apocalypse" throws the reader back into the lush forests of Africa after the reptilian extinctions of the Jurassic, where mammals originate and a vicious herbivore-carnivore emerges. From primitive Ardipithecus to sophisticated Homo sapiens, prehistoric man passes in review, killing all the other creatures and raping the Earth. In "The Genesis of My Death," the story of this new species and his assault on feline forms splits the consciousness of the author into narrator and lion point of view. All themes, including medical and religious, converge in the last section, "The Anthropoid," which damns the anomaly for his pretense of divinity and his lust for blood.
ALFREDO DE PALCHI was born in Legnano (near Verona) in 1926. After sojourns in Paris and Barcelona in the 1950s, he moved to the United States in 1956. He first became known in Italy when his poetry collection Sessioni con l'analista (Sessions with My Analyst) appeared in 1967 at Mondadori. In the United States, Xenos Books has published four bilingual editions of de Palchi's work: The Scorpion's Dark Dance (1993), Anonymous Constellation (1997), Addictive Aversions (1999) and Nihil (2017). In 2013, Chelsea Editions issued his Paradigm: New and Selected Poems 1947-2009, which includes the translation of much recent poetry previously available only in Italian. His work has been widely analyzed by critics and fellow poets, notably in A Life Gambled in Poetry: Homage to Alfredo de Palchi (Gradiva Publications, 2011), Guiseppe Panella's The Poetry of Alfredo de Palchi: An Interview and Three Essays (Chelsea Editions, 2013), Plinio Perilli's Il cuore animale. Vita/romanzo e poesia/messaggio di Alfredo de Palchi (Imperìa, 2016), Giorgio Linguaglossa's La poesia di Alfredo de Palchi (Edizioni Projetto Cultura, 2017) and several special issues of journals. He lives in Manhattan.
JOHN TAYLOR (b. 1952) is an American writer, critic, and translator who lives in France. In 2013, he won the Raiziss-de Palchi Translation Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets for his project to translate the Italian poet Lorenzo Calogero. This book was later published as An Orchid Shining in the Hand: Selected Poems 1932-1960 (Chelsea Editions, 2015). Taylor is also the translator of Alfredo de Palchi's Nihil (Xenos Books, 2017) and Franca Mancinelli's The Little Book of Passage (Bitter Oleander Press, 2018), as well as many French and Francophone poets, including Philippe Jaccottet, Pierre-Albert Jourdan, Louis Calaferte, Georges Perros, José-Flore Tappy, Catherine Colomb, Pierre Chappuis, and Pierre Voélin. He is the author of several volumes of short prose and poetry, three of which have been published by Xenos Books: The Apocalypse Tapestries, Now the Summer Came to Pass and The Dark Brightness. Other recent books are If Night is Falling (Bitter Oleander Press), Grassy Stairways (The MadHat Press), and Remembrance of Water and Twenty-Five Trees (Bitter Oleander Press).
The Aesthetics of Equilibrium
I. THE FALL
Remote demonic eras immersed in the gentle obliviousness of Eden... incurably pre-Pascalian times of evil... and the rigid universally omnivorous body scorned by archaic sufferings readies itself herbally for the affront of material nature...it's not the aesthetics of equilibrium that supports the vision that will be... Blaise Pascal supports himself on the suffering scratched right into the bone... spiritualizing the evil of existing with the "Discours de la condition de l'Homme"... which has neither an aesthetic nor equilibrium...
on Sunday the 19th of a cruel and capricious April of rain and molecular melancholy and pseudo-Eliotian mercenaries... losing my balance I fall backwards flat on the pavement...
repudiating hovel and family the son abandons himself in the desert to renew the world and prepare himself psychologically for suicide... an insane sacrifice that he symbolically offers to the fishermen of the Last Supper... Christ's Passion reiterated in the writings of fools... worked-up heavenly good and the malevolence pervading the earth exhibit the messianic man...
the equivocal natural equilibrium between the limbs exists between the blind cane and the left leg... unexpectedly falling off balance backwards I find myself stretched out along a sidewalk gutter and my right hip fractured... breathing heavily without screaming I clutch the arms lifting me...
the planet earth is fractured from its bowels to its boulders... from its mines emptied of their ore to its arid salt and sulfur and the petroleum stench of prehistoric carrion... from its landscapes to forewarnings of forests in flames... from its torrential rains to the radiant force of the sun... the planet trembles and quakes and caves in to fill in huge gaps in its depths... . the amount of anthropoids dead in disasters does not move me I despair of what I imagine happened to the never mentioned animals and not the panicked masses who show their own inferiority and derision... off balance they give in and try to climb the withered tree from which descended ...
with aesthetic presence lost I'm thrown off balance by the evil damaging my animal heart with its inserted porcine valves... my starving belly's swollen with lymphoma and there's nothing left on my ribs to rip off... my legs are swollen with water because of the side effects of lymphedema... my right hip is fractured, and glaucoma prevents me from seeing.
II. DESTINATION APOCALYPSE
After the extinction in the Jurassic era the planet reemerges in the next period from the magma and water... now the flora is lush in forests and jungles have grown back over the buried petrified forests... vigorously diverse fauna in perpetual evolution even in their languages are busy subdividing themselves into herbivorous and carnivorous species and surviving in the dense forests... the herbivore-carnivore has no respect for this difference, nor takes advantage of the two options...
genesis of a natural error in which earthly horror again arises... the new gene in evolutionary progression creates a short furry animal with anthropoid features probably of the bonobo and chimpanzee type... an anthropoid supported by his short hind legs curved down along his long stocky forelimbs with clawed feet for moving from branch to branch... he protects itself by dwelling among branches without ever climbing down the tree...
I'm the extremely beautiful original specimen with powerful paws and shoulders... crowned with a mane around my stern face with its surly adamantly yellowish eyes that glare out at the slightest swish of a fleeing animal... and for the short bent-over terrorized anthropoid I'm king of the jungle and the savannah...
I also have my glory as a hunter in the savannah and jungle along with the intense pleasure of tracking down the terror-stricken anthropoid... my destiny is not some vainglorious cruelty but rather the result of the wicked process of natural selection... racing after a fleeing shrieking prey and attacking it is the reward for my hunger... exhausted and breathless the prey claws into the tree trunk and tries to climb it... the verdict comes down from scripture dictated to fools by the self-elected supreme being: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth...
I hate and despise the anthropoid because of his passion for hunting with a weapon that encourages him to meet me head-on and easily kill both me and shy gentle fauna... his own species is cursed in my slavish hunger... the anthropoid wants my handsome head to be a trophy on the wall... I want to rip up his body limb by limb and with a jerk of my jaws to tear out his despicable heart from his chest and his liver spleen and intestines from his abdomen... his carcass has the face of an ignoble corpse loathing my own death... his gene remains malevolent all over this mausoleum-planet that comprises all kinds of fauna and flora within its own total elimination...
III. GENESIS OF MY DEATH
27 April 1945... four anthropoid thugs armed with guns and lugers position themselves a few feet in front of me... as a devastated adolescent anthropoid I study the four faces and am unsure whether they'll shoot me in the square next to a shop window full of fabrics... some American soldiers quickly arrive and put an end to the scene by slapping the four faces with a redneck bandana around their necks... in the district prisons they blotch up my back with a leather strap... while I'm lying on the wooden floor they kick me with their heavy boots burn my armpits with pages of L'Arena... and force me to swallow a bowl of soapy water full of beard shavings... you my salvation hear my cries for help and free me from their evilness one after another within two months... one is crushed by a truck while he is riding a motorcycle ... two drown in the Adige... and Nero Cella name and legal last name is convicted of rape and armed robbery... and six years later you free me from that autumnal evil spell in the Seine...
IV. THE ANTHROPOID
I'm the one who is warning of the enigma of this and in revolt I'm committed to overturning the arts the thought and the science of my habilis Anthropoid race by deciding to eliminate all species of fauna so I will be the only surviving species of the planet... finally alone and devoted to torturing and killing itself... the insanity belongs to my species remaining all alone on the planet which needs immense space for them because the destructive creations of the Anthropoid sapiens find earthly qualities... indeed, wicked and maniacal I yearn incoherently for the finis mundis...
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