Alessandra Bava – Three Poems

The Day Neruda Died


Just a few days after the

coup d’état, Poetry died in a house

nestled in the mountains of Santiago.


Twenty years later only,

they buried his body there,

in Isla Negra, according to his last


will and desire, close

to his home harboring

on a dune where blue waves


scour Humboldt’s icy

currents. Surrounded by

all things maritime, ships in


bottles, maps, beloved

figureheads, that he collected

bulimically, a few steps away from


his very bedroom with a

tin-plate roof that reminded him of

his childhood in the Southern town of


Temuco lashed by harsh winds and

rain where he spent endless hours penning lines

enchanted by the falling drops on the tin rooftops


in the arms of the mighty Andes.

The day he died, five-hundred, maybe

six-hundred young men stood there in front of


Pablo’s house despite the hundreds of

Pinochet’s secret agents taking snapshots. When

the coffin left all of them raised their hand to the sky,


singing the Internationale. Everybody knew that

that very evening somebody would have knocked at

their doors, leading them away to Dawson Island as political


prisoners—to never return. This did not prevent them.

Nobody will prevent poetry from living on. Neither regimes

nor politics and, not even Death dancing his last Chilean Totentanz


amid rustling red leaves on an Autumn day of 1973. Pablo es aún vivo.*


*Pablo is still alive




The Birds Have Gone


The birds have all gone.

They gathered to watch

the Nightingale lie


motionless on the

ground and fled to mourn.

The country is so silent now.


I hold you in my hands.

Your cold feathers will be my shield.

Your chant will be my weapon.


Rest here.

This land will always be your land

and I will sing your songs forever.



(for Pete Seeger)




In Che’s Heavy-Duty Boots


I did dream of you Latin America,

unknown land of my spirit,

as I follow the trail that Poderosa

the Mighty One – left along your


backbone: St. Martín, Bariloche,

the pampas and the deserts.

I want to tread your soil and your

soul penniless, a motorcycle in


my heart wearing Che’s unlaced heavy-

duty boots. The taste of brewed

yerba mate in the mouth will last long,

as the poverty of people filling my eyes.


There is Chile. I’ll pass by as a busy

pilgrim along Neruda’s door. I

won’t knock but I will carry his

words in my backpack. And, I too will


spend some days in leper-hospitals

to recall that poets and revolutionaries

must always put their fingers in the wounds

to be able to learn how to be sufferers.



Alessandra Bava lives and works in the Eternal city. She holds an MA in American Literature and she manages her own translation agency. She is the author of two bilingual chapbooks NOCTURNE (2013) and GUERRILLA BLUES ( 2012) both published in Italy. Her first US published chapbook, THEY TALK ABOUT DEATH,  is now available from Blood Pudding Press. Her forthcoming chapbook, DIAGNOSIS, will be released by Dancing Girl Press in 2014. She is a Co-founder of Rome’s Revolutionary Poets Brigades and is the editor of ROME’S REVOLUTIONARY POETS BRIGADE ANTHOLOGY Vol. 1 (Edizioni Ensemble, 2012) and ARTICOLO 1 (Edizioni Albeggi, 2014). She actively takes part in and helps to organize WORLD POETRY MOVEMENT and 100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE reading events in Rome. She is currently writing the biography of a contemporary American poet. She blogs at