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Gaetano decided to leave



Selected poems



Under the tree

You dare me to take a bite.


In the seconds before I act I think

of my father working in his blue overalls

covered in sawdust; the smells of my childhood:

rusty nails, thick tar and hardened peat.

He is probably somewhere up to no good

grafting away on some new project

I will never understand — with blokes

I know who scorn my love of art.

My earliest memory of him

and I together was in a dank and seedy bar

in a part of town scarcely known.

His hands seemed to be the size of comets

and he was drinking and he was laughing

though I cannot remember what advice he gave.

I remember being sat by an orange fire

under thick oak beams; I recognised the smoke

that filled the room as illusive and white.


The sun is shining and you look beautiful

and you take the first bite; your teeth split the seal

and the fruit hisses as the juice sprays your plump lips.

You throw the fruit high up into the air and as it falls

it's received by my cupped and shaking hands.




Contemporary Georgian

I sit in this café surrounded by tourists,

affluent locals spoiling their offspring with scones.

A tramp wanders by pleading; Please, any spare change?

I offer him a pinch of Virginian tobacco,

grateful he accepts, licks his lips and moves on.

I pity his situation: missing teeth, soiled shirt and matted hair.

In the west of England the sun illuminates

the yellow of the Bath stone, and instantly I feel wealthier.

At the entrance of the Abbey, a stone's throw away,

sculptured angels climb Jacob's Ladder; their trajectories

have been fixed for centuries. I presume it is Lucifer

who, positioned near the top, chose to descend.

My latte arrives delivered by a lithe waitress I know

I'll tip generously. She says she's studying

Classical Translation at Edinburgh — similar aesthetics —

before slinking away. My eyes widen as I read:

The Abbey houses thousands of caskets, each full of dust

beneath the floor, where people kneel and pray.

I contemplate my death and envisage my father

on the wooden skiff he built, launching my ashes

into a calm breeze, his face masked with salt tears,

decades of memory. The marine life would mistake me

for plankton; I'd be consumed, excreted from sensitive gills.

I'd prosper on the bottom of the ocean floor.





I speak to the rulers, not the ruled,

when I promote profound Inactiveness.


What crop will ever be sustainable

without adopting childlike innocence?


Grand notions of legacy and conquest

should be written with one's staff in a pool


to remind oneself that it's meaningless

to conquer kingdoms, to hoard rare jewels.


Men with great power too often crawl

from greed to lust, inspired by hubris.


Without the sage's wisdom man grows cruel.

Ignoring the Way leads to the precipice.




Long distance

You send me a Snapchat photo

of you posing in the black peignoir you purchased

from a store on the Champs-Elysees, two days prior.


I'm on my own chain-smoking

sat at my desk gazing at your vacant lot.

I see the spines of the books

piled high on the bureau where you used to write,

concentrate and read:

Carson, Nin, Beauvoir, Cixous and Sexton ...

My gullet burns as I gulp the Pernod

that too often fills my clay tumbler cup.


I suspect you'll be dancing soon,

in some hipster bar down a back-alley,

more seductive than Salome; you'll sway

and allure every set of dilated eyes.

I imagine in the corner of the room

a rogue who plays a blue guitar,

his fingers will slip and slide

over nylon strings

as everyone begins to undress.





A student of Ethics and Philosophy,

aspiring librettist, Gaetano Leigh

read dusty books on the 16th century

Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci

in the basement of the Central Library,

St Peter's Square, Manchester. Daily

Gaetano imagined sailing the South China Sea

re-reading catholic theology

written to entice the scholarly

Confucians, Viceroys — the authority

that Christ should enter the Forbidden City ...

Upon graduating with a solid degree

Gaetano smoked a cigar, decided to leave.

His friends at No. 70,

ambitious writers of prose and poetry

may see their names in print eventually,

he hoped. Wanting to disappear in secrecy

like the Italian Jew Lorenzo Da Ponte,

Mozart's librettist, who infamously

penned the libretto Don Giovanni

the work Gaetano declares most worthy

of praise, admiration and forensic study.

Currently Gaetano speaks little Chinese

though he lives in Jiangsu. He drinks coffee

when he isn't teaching. Sitting in a café

he struggles to decipher a Latin dictionary.



Aaron LemboAaron Lembo currently lives in the UK though he is expecting to move to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, by August 2019. He can be found on Instagram as lembo22.

Topic tags: Aaron Lembo, poetry



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Existing comments

ciao Arrivederci

Pam | 24 June 2019  

I am humbled...intrigued...taken aback by the beauty of these words, their topics as well as their settings, some of which I know so well. Greetings, Aaron Lembo! Long may your poetry live!

Michael Furtado | 25 June 2019  

Thanks Aaron, Marvellous images and biting thematic drama.

Jorie Ryan | 25 June 2019  

How rare it is to feel something physically leap up inside with pleasure and understanding! These poems gave me just that experience. How's this for wisdom and beauty? "Without the sage's wisdom man grows cruel. Ignoring the Way leads to the precipice." Perfect!

Frances Letters | 05 July 2019  

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