tiny shadow hairs: from Alex Caldiero’s Italian Notebooks

We all know what a poem should look like. It should look like this beauty from Alex Caldiero’s book Some Love:

some love

A proper poem, Welsh/American poet Leslie Norris writes, must be groomed:


The poem stands on its firm

legs. Its claws are filed, brush

and curry-comb have worked

with the hissing groom to polish


its smooth pelt. All morning, hair

by hair, I’ve plucked away each small

excess; remains no trace of

barbering, and all feels natural. . . .

(Selected Poems, 116)


These two poems are familiar, natural and proper. They surprise us with what they say rather than what they are.

But what if a poet is more interested in the grooming than in the groomed, in the process rather than the product? He might, if he were Alex Caldiero, reveal the “tiny shadow hairs” of his work.


tiny covertiny blacktiny housetiny fleshtiny dante italtiny dante engltiny tag

Through a revelation of this sort, Alex might continue his life-long assertion that words are alive, that language is form, that images are ideas.

And with a gift of “tiny shadow hairs,” he might remind a friend of the meaning of friendship.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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5 Responses to tiny shadow hairs: from Alex Caldiero’s Italian Notebooks

  1. Melissa Beck says:

    I’ve just looked up Caliero’s poetry and it looks terrific. Thanks so much.


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