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


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.


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

although the flies
have flown away,
do not think I’ve been
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.

Every time

Every time a bell rings, an angel earns his wings.

Every time you have a great meal, workers at the lighthouse all report hearing a faint scream.

Every time one of the nerd twins attends a pro wrestling event, some annoying checkmarks suddenly wash over your eyes.

Every time it is not a cathedral, it is a bird.

Every time a leopard wears shorts and sandals, grit collects in a sensitive instrument.

Every time you ask yourself what you were doing one year ago, you get a blue and gold sleeve patch.

Every time a Republican does not like a talk-show, cretins take their seats in a lovely village pub with a cricketing theme.

Every time the housing belt tensioner seems to be the acting General Secretary of the Party, time passes.

Every time you have the balls built up with suitable weld and equilibrium, you must appear before the judgment-seat of your Creator

Every time a form of facial paralysis results from a Prophecy, God rises bravely from the dust of your bones and spins into a ferret.

Every time you whistle, someone notices a good-bye note on a corpse in the bedroom.

Every time a Pink Floyd tribute band opens a jazz festival, winter plays a typewriter inside a sealed jar.

Every time football fans look down from the uppermost seat, the vicar and churchwardens boldy position the worm hole, believing theirs is unique.

Every time a black background with red and blue neon graphics transitions into the Hamburgular in a meditation pose, a magazine is opened.

Every time someone with a soul patch is astonished by the entrance of a visitor, a classic hidden object morphs into a nest of distilled water.

Every time baggage is issued as a flotation device, bends or other defects are used near an open flame.

Instructions for Performance of “The Anchor of the Flowers (a Surrealist Drama)”

surrealist play | collage poem

Innards (redux)

When I cracked,
I peeled myself back
and something inside glistened.

It was a mouth
whispering out
“If you had only listened.”