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Papal nation

  • 14 August 2018


Selected poems



My nonna

When I started playing Aussie Rules,

my nonna's face turned red.

I asked her what the problem was,

and this is what she said:

'An oval ball, an oval ground,

for men with oval heads.'



The ballerinas

They say that we are dreaming

while the working world awakes.

Imagination is the name

we give to our mistakes.



The shell collector

The shell collector dives into

the Adriatic Sea

and scoops the blue pearlescent shell

that god had meant for me.




His wretched life is deemed a pantomime

by those decreeing love to be a crime.



The Bay of Naples

The children from the other side

can only swim against the tide.



The azzurri kite

Unable to repair the severed ties

the azzurri kite is swept to foreign skies.



The night gardener

As Rocco waters his geranium

the moonlight dances on his cranium.



Leaving Venice

A disenfranchised gondolier

embarks to sail the Sea of Fear.



Papal nation

Italians are a people of integrity

who celebrate a celibate celebrity.



In praise of carbohydrates

It's well worth pointing out

that the night before a bout

   Rocky Mattioli

ate a bowl of ravioli.



The salami-makers

They breed pigs for consumption;

they extract salt from the earth.

Blessed are the salami-makers

for they will inherit the girth.



This dreaming life

He tried to charm the stone-faced Mona Lisa,

but she chose to dwell in Leaning Towers of Pisa,

resultant pain pursued him in his prime,

and strangely thus began his life of rhyme

which led to life inside a freak museum;

and finally flung into a colosseum,

his feeble flesh was ripped up at the seam:

he was the dreamer, now he is the dream.



Damian Balassone's poems have appeared in over 100 publications, most notably in the New York Times. He is the author of three volumes of poetry: Prince of the Apple Towns, Daniel Yammacoona and A Day in the Lie (forthcoming).