Original Translation of Two Poems by Gabriele Barbarrossa (also known in some circles as “The Mad Poet/Tailor of Buenos Aires”)

I.

I made for you
a dress.
I made it in
a hurry.
I made it from
live animals
– its feel is
rather furry –
so if you wear it
in a photograph
your edges
will be blurry.

II.

my son, my son
right here,
your sweater lies
with five nice
button holes
and instead of buttons
flies!

although the flies
have flown away,
do not think I’ve been
unwise,
for I give you both a sweater
and a purpose
– now find your buttons
in the skies!


The works of Gabriele Barbarrossa, “The Mad Poet/Tailor of Buenos Aires” are incredibly difficult to find, both because as poets go, he was a somewhat obscure figure, the son of Italian-born parents who emigrated to Argentina in 1915 who lived the life of a simple tailor in Buenos Aires and published no poetry during his lifetime, and also because of the method he used to write his poetry – sewing it into the inner linings of suit jackets.

My profound thanks to my Argentinian connection – who must remain nameless – for not only spotting these two Barbarrossa poems sewn into a smart, blue, double-breasted blazer, but, knowing that I am somewhat of an amateur Barbarrossa scholar, being kind enough to remove them and mail their thread to me wrapped around a simple wooden spool.

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