Milano Adesso

Mark Halliday

They are speaking rapidly in Milan right now unacceptably
far from me at tables in sunlight, their sunglasses poised adeptly
upon their dark hair, their hands inflecting thoughts,
they understand themselves to be splendidly alive adesso
and to waste it would be a provincial sort of stupidity
somehow not unrelated to American crudity
so they laugh bright-briefly and pivot into
the next current in their silver stream of Milanese
in which they take for granted three or seven insights
cultural, political, postindustrial millennial digital
toward which I will stumble three or five years hence if
even then. Light breeze flicks the piazza
causing quick adjustments of handsome intelligent hair
in Milan right now as the conversation pivots like a skier
S-curving through implications of non-stupid passion
(with irony incorporated) sexual certainly though
inseparable from books and fifty websites I will
never visit.                     Milan, Milano,
Milano adesso si far far aye aye flow on great Po
great Danube mighty Rhine aye ripple on old Seinein a Kansas of muddled passive co-optedness though I be
while brightness streams on elsewhere mythically
we shall all quicksoon enough find the sea!

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Mark Halliday has taught in the creative writing program at Ohio University since 1966. His six previous books of poetry include Jab and Thresherprobe, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

“‘And you try to be awake,’ growls Mark Halliday. These poems are fully awake, practicing vivisection on their own delusions, complacencies, and sublimities, carving into the tissue of language. Song here sounds more like invoice than voice. Yet its wit reveals the timeless: sorrow for a dying father, a lost wife, and the core recognition of our ‘dustitude.‘”
—Rosanna Warren

“Reading Losers Dream On is like listening in on the constantly shifting, uncomfortable thoughts of a mind brilliantly attuned to the world of memory and to its own intricate (often hilarious) processes. These poems take place in landscapes that seem familiar at first—snow-covered parking lots, an empty Mexican restaurant, airport gates crowded with travelers—but, under Mark Halliday’s gaze, they become dazzling and strange, filled with troublesome knowledge and the possibility of mortality and transcendence. Witty, exciting, and wide-awake, Halliday is one of the best poets at work in America today.”
—Kevin Prufer

“Mark Halliday is one of our foremost technicians of the American vernacular. In Halliday’s poems, James Joyce, Leave It To Beaver, and Sir Walter Raleigh all get their turn at the microphone. I admire Halliday’s dedication to coherence, self-interrogation, and endless verbal playfulness. His voice is one of the most reliable, hilarious, effervescent, and moody pleasures in the contemporary canon. His rich new collection, Losers Dream On, holds its own with the high standard of his best work.”
—Tony Hoagland

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