We came out of the box only this morning

By Marina Massenz
Translated by Johanna Bishop

We came out of the box only

this morning joints and reflexes clack

clack all rusty getting into gear

slowly but surely in full operation


now the vast sheet is spread

to gather the debris, the demolitions

carried out over time the once-house

tying the four ends and pulling tight


like the handkerchief with four

coins stowed in the pocket still

operative in the worn trousers

gone slack from too much time gone by


like the legs sort of withered now

but the key thing is to carry through

the cleanup operation tote the debris

to the specialized disposal site care


required utmost expertise

caution do not insert in containers

not specifically intended for the purpose

caution no mistakes follow instructions


and meanwhile fend off the greed of phony

patrons on the lookout for something

snaffling here and there one hand

washes the other that’s what they say.


Marina Massenz, based in Milan, is the author of the collections Nomadi, viandanti, filanti (Amadeus, 1995) and La ballata delle parole vane (L’Arcolaio, 2011). Her poetry and prose poetry has appeared in Accordi, Inverso, Qui – appunti dal presente, Il monte analogo, Poliscritture, Le voci della luna, and Vents Alizés, and in the online journals La poesia e lo spirito, Poesia da fare, and Nazione indiana. She is also one of Italy’s leading psychomotricity practitioners and has published three books in her field.

Johanna Bishop has been a full-time translator since 2004, primarily of books on contemporary art. Her poetry translations have been published by Guernica Editions (“For the Maintenance of Landscape” by Mia Lecomte, with Brenda Porster), and by TheFLR, Italian Poetry Review, and Journal of Italian Translation. She lives near Florence.