Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What's the buzz?


In your dream there is that buzzing sound
near your ear.
They know when you are most vulnerable,
a forearm on top of a blanket,
A leg sticking out of the sheets, seeking the cool
night air.

In the dark tile of the ceiling they wait for
their primi to be served
gliding down the thick column of carbon dioxide
to the warm pulsing
landscape that gives them their only happiness:
stabbing, sucking.

Rising up with red dots, the record of their
night’s menu,
You might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse
of one in your periphery
Loaded with the night’s work, attracted by the
bathroom light.

Slow after a full meal, an easy target
trying to go home,
You miss the first, the second try; the third
hits home
Leaving a red streak on the white wall with
your DNA written all over it.

William Padgett, 8 June 2005

No Sweat

Moist communications

Water moving from place to place
Evaporating, condensing, beading, dripping.
One moment floating freely in the air,
The next trapped in some hot armpit.

I sweat profusely, my forehead downpours,
Shirt backs mapped with the heat,
Coastlines of salt on dark cloth,
Record of the long walk home.

My glasses fog up with steamy water vapor,
I finger squeegee streams from my brow.
Shelves with stained caps document
Many days of heat, many hours of labor.

My body lets me know when it is really hot,
With temperature over ninety and very humid,
It releases years of stored up internal water
Flowing through a system of efficient aqueducts.

But there are some that don’t sweat
Never a stain on blouse or shirt
Not the slightest glistening bead
On their brow, arm or upper lip.

They must sweat, but where?
Do they do it in the privacy of
Their own home, making a puddle
in the middle of their living room?

Or do they have canine genes
That cools them off as they talk?
Maybe their body heat is regulated like
the green gecko darting from sun to shade?

On the other hand, when it gets really cold
Do these same people not shiver and shake?
Does their body forget tell them not to lie down,
curl up, sleep and freeze into a block of ice?

William Padgett, 26 June 2005

Faculty Club


The warmth of the sun of the Dominican Republic
Bathes the dark heart of Savonarola.

Each night dogs eagerly wait for their master’s walk,
They are greeted with a small snack and a friendly pat,

Or it becomes a pause on the way home from work,
The ever-present wine bottle has no bottom.

An oasis of smiles, moist with happiness and joy,
Spiced with panino, peanuts and jokes.

Children run the obstacle course around adults
Talking, smoking, drinking, communing.

When the sun is low in the sky and the days become shorter
She flies south, retreating to familiar beaches for the winter

They close the kiosk and remove the foosball game,
And the dark priest again reins over the piazza,

… until March.

William Padgett, 4 July 2004

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The Master of the Blue Bin

His friends amazed at his skill,
witnessing flesh conquering machine.

He was one with the claw, grasping a
fuzzy trophy with focused confidence,
at thirteen, he was at the top of his game.

At thirty-three, he leaves before dawn
Playing a new game, spread over the medieval city.
His truck rattles down narrow streets with drawn shutters,
the long claw-arm tucked in tight behind the cab.

It is the same route revealing new obstacles at each stop:
Rusty spray-painted city bicycles, locked and chained,
Small Fiats parked hesitantly, with the flashers on,
Appliance boxes, pieces of renovation, junk piled high,
Old bins that should have been replaced long ago.

Via Verdi, his last stop, time running out,
its residents brewing coffee, brushing teeth,
washing restless sleep from their swollen eyes,
as the truck bursting with glass and plastic,
gathering skeletons of the city’s unquenchable thirst,
taking them to be born again, to be played again.

Atop his throne, strong hands on joysticks and levers,
the engine straining, pumping hydraulic blood,
he plays the claw. The first pass hooks the bin, lifting,
he skillfully positions it over the truck: a jerking shake,
a little twist, then the loud shower of breaking glass.

Gently tamping with the empty bin compresses and
flattens the mound of the morning’s collection.
Perfectly placing it on its resting spot by the sidewalk,
he pulls over the green tarp, adjusting a loose bungee,

Slowly walking his victory lap around the truck,
inspecting his equipment and the look of his load,
the final once-over, he climbs up in the cab.

A new high score, a new record time.
… and a free game, tomorrow.

William Padgett, 15 June 2005

Alla Viale

Squeegee Guy

Standing in the hot Tuscan sun where roads cross,
The mustachioed tattered prince of a despised race
Of centuries of darkness squints at the line of cars arriving
From the cool countryside queuing up at the red light.

With only a minute to work sparing no extra effort,
he bypasses a dirty little Ape, a full taxi, the motorini;
And moves towards the clean new Mercedes,
the cool driver behind tinted glass staring ahead.

Dripping squeegee dangling from his hand,
His mission is simple: clean a windshield.
All he needs is a simple nod, eye contact, a smile
To improve your view of your daily commute.

The process repeats itself at each change of the light
New faces but the same expressions: words of disgust,
Pangs of pity, darts of hate, looks of sympathy,
And from most – just no looks at all.

His woman fitfully sleeps nearby on a shaded bench, or
A break from the heat sprawled on the grass of the park.
Then a brief call on a pay phone to who knows who,
It’s back to the red light, the words, the looks, and small change.

At sunset there is enough for cheap wine and bread.
Walking to their trailer along of a littered road,
The clinking of change in their hidden pockets
Keeping the rhythm of the music in their heads.

William Padgett, 28 June 2005

Calcio Antico

San Giovanni Haiku

Over San Croce
Tattooed players battle
for fiery flowers.

William Padgett, 30 June 2005

Da mio cucina

Italian Zen

Gangs of swallows drawing eights
Around the tiles and antennae.
Diving, gliding, turning, not noticing
The call she didn’t want to get.

Words pacing her back and forth,
Gesturing punctuation, sentencing.
Floating, her steps quickened as
The truth pierced her heart.

Completing so perfect a design,
Pain became the black dot in white
Making it one, making it whole.

William Padgett, 21 June 2005

Due Piedi

A Year of Living Carlessly

I don’t need to get a driving license to walk,
I never have to circle the block to park my feet,
There is no waiting in line to gas my sandals and
No quarterly payments for insurance for my toes.

Someday I may get flat feet, but never have flat tires,
Every year there is no new models to envy and lust for,
I can go directly in water, dance a jig or go up 88 stairs,
And my wife can tickle them to make me giggle with joy.

William Padgett, 30 June 2005

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Romano Lucacchini

I lost a good friend this week, Romano was the quintessential Florentine gentleman. He was a hard working and very talented sculptor as well as a gifted and inspiring professor. He worked even on the day he died. My wife saw him that afternoon with a student and they talked enthusiastically about the upcoming summer's activities. The world will be a little darker with the passing of "questo uomo molto simpatico." I will miss his smile.

Nostro amico
(a Romano Lucacchini)

Un soffio bianco di capelli
Leggero e soffice come la neve alpina

Mani che hanno lavorato roccia
Forti e lunghe come gli Appennini

Nel profundo degli occhi scuri si vedono

Notturne strade e piazza di Firenze

Un sorriso sincero che invita a sederti

E parla un momento in frasi italiano

Ancora รจ il cuore gigantesco di un uomo,
La chiave a un mondo antico meraviglioso.

(in english)

Nostro Amico
(to Romano Lucacchini)

A whisp of white hair,
Fresh as the snow on the Alps.

Hands that have worked stone,
Strong like the long Appenines.

Beneath those dark eyes are the

Night streets and piazzas of Firenze.

A broad smile invites you to sit

And talk a while in phrases Italian.

Yet it is the gigantic heart of a man,
The key to an ancient wonderful world.

William Padgett, Giugno 2005


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My Favorite Tree

Mio Albero

It has been in this Giardina a very long time
The seasons recorded in growth and sleep.

Planted by a man who would never
Enjoy in its full shade on a hot day.

Generations of children ran around its feet,
Birds born in its arms return home each spring.

This year I fell in love with a special tree,
My lines stroking and caressing its contours,

I was dazzled by its size, its presence, its nobility
Towering above the activity on an October afternoon.

I came back in winter, amazed at its naked structure
I drew to stay warm while it dozed in the low sun.

In spring, I returned to a familiar face in the park
Not drawing for detail but looking for essense.

When I return to Firenze, I will visit my old friend
Patiently waiting for me just like it was yesterday.

William Padgett, Oct. 2004

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Back to Basics

I chose to go to art school because I always loved to draw. I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BFA in Illustration. However, as years went by I found that I was asked to design more than I was asked to illustrate. I, over time, became a designer. Now I teach design. During the last ten or fifteen years I found that I was drawing less and less. I sketched out conceptual thumbnails for design projects but drew little from direct observation. I got rusty.

As it always happens, things change. I was asked along with my wife, Mary, to teach in the Studio Arts program at Syracuse University in Florence. My wife, myself and my son, Jon, packed up, rented our house and planned to live in Italy for a year. During the fall and spring semesters 2004-5 in Florence I taught Figure Drawing and Advanced and Intermediate Drawing, in the summer I held an Italian Journal class which combined writing and drawing.

Needless to say, the year was extremely inspirational. I started drawing again, I started writing poetry. This blog will be about writing and drawing again; not a how-to-do-it website, but celebrating the act of observing our surroundings and then responding to them. It will be about images and words together, starting with the time we spent in Florence to the present.

The attached drawing is of the rooftop across the way out our Via Verdi livingroom window in Firenze. I also wrote this poem about the cat that lived there.

Across the narrow via

Their feline eyes meet
Across the narrow via

Like every night before.

Separated by only ten meters
Across the narrow via
But it could be a thousand.

They only have their far images
Across the narrow via

Never to lay together on the warm tiles.

If he could sprout wings to fly
Across the narrow via
Just once to feel her gentle purr.

With a long running start
Across the narrow via
He could reach his dream.

As his paws left the clay tiles
Across the narrow via
He felt the cool air brush his fur.

William Padgett, June 2005