Two Poems by Benjamin Gucciardi

Spring in Smiljan, Croatia

“Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our minds or determines
our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli
beating upon our sense organs from without.”
-Nikola Tesla, A Machine to End War, 1937

With the zeal of welding sparks,
The sour grass explodes
Into a thousand yellow diamonds
Soldered on the hillside.

White petals hitch
Along the surface of a rill,
Gathering where the water gossips
With the fallen poplar.

My heart is not a drain.
But when I walk these cobbled roads
And spring pours her colors
Into me, I am emptied of all else.

Nikola Tesla, I have read
Your theory of rays, I will outdo you;
I will invent an engine
That runs on the rapture of plum blossoms.


Caravaggio in Training

Duomo di Milano, November, 1588

I spend every afternoon undressing shadows.
Peeling them off the Calabrian drapes,
Luring them up from the floor.

I pin them down with wrought iron
Scrap and my teacher pares layers
With his palette knife.
Blue spills out from gray, from mauve,
He is right about every one.

Seeing, he keeps saying,
And pointing at things, revealing them—
The Virgin Mary’s patient face in every corner,
A spider’s web in the archway; I want to sew myself
To the sky that way.

Up there, I could see precisely
The three tones of my shadow
As it hangs on Peterzano’s perimeter like a cloak
Before it slides off his shoulders,
Leaving a kind of symmetry
Between his bareness
And me.

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