Edward Caruso – Oceans

Caruso LE P&W June 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing June 2023

Oceans, poems by Edward Caruso.



Sunburnt figures. Refuse floating on waves
devoured by the heat of a June evening.

The port, blurred by surf,
it’s been some time since I’ve felt sand
on my feet and laid beneath a fading sun.

Environmentalists with drums,
placards and outcries at the multitudes on shore.
A yellow moon rises. It will turn red over Bologna.

During our return trip much will be said
about the life you choose, dedicated to letters
and to the Adriatic’s salt,
your wish to live in poverty in a country of wealth.


You study me raising
a glass of whiskey to my lips.
We coordinate clothes,
conversation and shades of booze.


Let go my hand … lesson number one:
why I’ve learned so much from you;
the pain in love, the love in one’s own pain.

Lesson number two: we’re partners in fate,
masters of emotions, kindred liars of the heart
and infinite diviners of signs
(your heart, my heart; my city, your city).
Never give in.

Every time we talk, no matter how much I know,
how little of you, it makes for the whole,
and in that whole lies another whole.

Never feel let down.
Lesson number three … No, lesson number four:
no matter how much we’ve discovered of each other,
it’s lesson number one again.


Let’s reconfigure the humidity and summer of false moves
(forget the winter freeze of six months ago).

Though it’s been one long night of traffic,
our moon refuses to be seen too far above the rooftops.


What if we don’t see each other for a year?
We’ll return to the shore and its crowds,
even if the moon reappears with a different hue,
and there’ll be more talk of wanting to see its phases
as if it were our hostage.

If we could become more like each other, live
by our pub at Milano Marittima, by its sea of bodies,
discordant beach umbrellas and salt in our hair,
you’ll be reading Emily Dickinson.

Your memoirs to be written,
I can be relied on for a line or two.
In them I’ll toast the mid-afternoon breakers,
our reserved banquets and idealised summers.


Thirty-eight degrees
in the shadows.
On lumbering from one end
of the city and back,
my cup overflows:
two gold euros.

By a stadium,
large drops of rain
mix with the sweat of a forehead
burned countless times.

A blurred figure offers a euro.
Someone lunges for my arm.
‘We’re in this together,’ he says.
I frown.
Each day I’m on the streets.

A colleague stays
on his knees all afternoon,
eyes shut.
No one stops.
The disbelief
a pain as hypnotic
as a free cup of coffee
on a January morning.

Each street a site reserved,
pedestrians coming and going,
when rivals move in,
at my next spot by a church,
blood, phlegm.

That thing called ‘past’

To lag among shadows
Sabine hills, a road’s curvature into nimbus

Widows, souls captured in black and white,
peer from balconies

recognition as a past neighbour approaches

To be known as the figure that left,
and the person who returned

Sixty years after my first leaving,
rain restores these hillsides to how I remember them

Years lived elsewhere
Future departures

© Edward Caruso

Edward Caruso has been published in A Voz Limpia, Australian Multilingual Writing Project, ‘La Bottega della Poesia’ (La Repubblica, Italy), Burrow, Communion, Kalliope X, Mediterranean Poetry, Meniscus, n-Scribe, Right Now, StylusLit, TEXT, Unusual Work and Well-Known Corners: Poetry on the Move. His second collection of poems, Blue Milonga, was published by Hybrid Publishers in 2019.

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