Soaked in silence, sunbeams through the shutters, dust
floating softly. Stuffy, flecks of mold and rust

sticking here and there, a gentle draft. The glow
makes all things appear the same as years ago,

time as if dissolved, annulled in space, and space
fixed, confined by gauds and heirlooms, still. No trace

left of sadness, grievance, anguish, though. Regret
torments just the living. Rooms are not upset,

harrowed, tortured, they can only be forlorn,
locked, concealed. Their very essence can’t be torn.

Theirs is moral aging. They do not get old.



Alessio Zanelli is an Italian poet who writes in English and whose work has appeared in over 150 literary journals from 13 countries. His fifth original collection, titled The Secret Of Archery, was published in 2019 by Greenwich Exchange (London). For more information please visit

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8 Responses

  1. Sally Cook

    This is a very sad poem, and well done. Just one spot in it bothers me. In the fourth couplet, you say:

    left of sadness, grievance, anguish, though. Regret
    torments just the living. Rooms are not upset,

    You might want to consider:

    left of sadness, grievance, anguish. Though regret
    torments those living still. The ooms are not upset,

    In that way the rthymn does not become halting.
    More, please.

    • Alessio Zanelli

      Hi Sally,
      thank you for your praise. The poem was written upon entering the abandoned flat in which I used to live years before.
      As to the rhythm, the poem is perfectly formal, made of eleven lines, each line being a hendecasyllable, consisting in five trochees followed by a masculine ending, here’s the pattern:
      + – / + – / + – / + – / + – / +
      The change you suggest wouldn’t obey such accentual-syllabic pattern.

  2. C.B. Anderson


    I wish that all the contributors here would have a metrical plan as firm as yours. I have read your work for many years, which is not surprising, considering the breadth of your publication credits. I place you in the realm of other non-native English speakers, such as Conrad, Popper & Nabokov, who have achieved a clarity of expression that native Anglophones struggle to implement. You almost make me think that I should start writing poems in Italian, to achieve a similar result. But first I would have to learn Italian, which is a problem.

    • Alessio Zanelli

      Thank you for your appreciation.
      English prosody is not overcomplicated, and then many words come to the aid of accentual-syllabic meter as they can be pronounced in two or even three ways (think of “toward” for example), moving the accent along the syllables and, sometimes, even making some syllable disappear…
      That said, as in all things, a minimum of study is required, and I have read (and keep reading) a lot of English classical verse.
      Maybe the point is that, being a second-language writer, I take it methodically, paying attention to the least detail, which a mother-tongue writer may easily induced to skip.
      Less than 20% of what I write is formal, but when I deal in meter, I’m quite obsessed with it, and always try to be as “clean” as possible.
      This involves another interesting aspect: diction. Often I need a word with a specific meaning and a specific accentual pattern, which makes me resort to dictionaries and thesauruses consistently and, on many occasions, I happen to pick up words a bit old-fashioned or very rarely used in everyday speaking and even writing, causing perplexity and surprise to readers (readers usually dislike having to resort to a dictionary, ahahah…).
      That’s it.
      Take care.

  3. C.B. Anderson

    Ahah! Now I know your secret. Without irony, I appreciate your instructions to long-lost Anglophones who can’t even count sheep. I, too, keep a thesaurus and more than one dictionary next to my writing desk. Ideas are good, but words are the atoms of poetry.

    • Alessio Zanelli

      My voluminous dictionaries line up on the shelves… “abandoned”, since I have long adopted their digital descendants (much more manageable and regularly updated). We’ve long become slaves to 0’s and 1’s… But for those who still regret the good old times, there’s who goes against the tide. For example, take a look at “The Analog Sea Review”: they have a very simple webpage, containing basic info, and for all the rest (inquiries, submissions, etc.) you have to retrieve paper and pencil.

  4. Uberde Acsweli

    “My dear, Degas, poems are not made out of ideas, they are made out of words.”
    —Stéphane Mallarmé (though I do appreciate Mr. MacKenzie’s admonition of that)

    Mr. Zanelli’s trochaic hexameters show him experimenting with his poetic line, reminiscent, in this instance, of the bare landscapes of Chirico (1888-1978). I do wonder of the phrase, “Theirs is a moral aging”. On a separate note:

    Andrea Camilleri (1925-2019)

    Andrea Camilleri left the heat of Sicily,
    and died in Rome in hospital at age of 93.
    From a director, he went on to dialogues and death,
    with dialect he knew from youth and time’s remembered breath.
    Police Chief Salvo Montalbano will no longer irk;
    th’ imaginary commisario is done with work.
    Deaths needed solving with some logic, humour and some fight,
    including searching for Luigi Pirandello’s life.
    “Il cuoco dell’Alcyon” was his final Iliad;
    he left one thousand unsolved cases, yes, a chiliad.

    Statius (c. 45 – c. 96) left unfinished his epic of a chiliad of lines, his “Achilleid”. On a totally different tangent, one of my favourite movies is “Caccia alla volpe” with its admixture of neorealism and farce.

    • Alessio Zanelli

      Rooms never really age, do they? It’s us who age, hence the apparent “moral” aging of the places we inhabited in the past.
      Camilleri: RIP


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