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Giovanni Franchi by Mina Loy 12/07/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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Mina Loy (1966) published Giovanni Franchi in The Lost Lunar Baedeker in 1923.

The threewomen who all walked

In the same dress

And it had falling ferns on it

Skipped parallel

To the progress

Of Giovanni Franchi

Giovanni Franchi’s wrists flicked

Flickeringly as he flacked them

His wrists explained things

Infectiously by way of his adolescence

His adolescence was all there was of him

Whatever was left was rather awkward

His adolescence tuned to the tops of trees

Descended to the fallacious nobility

Of his first pair of trousers

They were tubular flapped friezily

The color of coppered mustard

What matter

Were they not the first

No others could ever be the first again

The ferns on the flounces of the threewomen

Began fading as she thought of it

Tea table problems for insane asylyms

Are démodé


Allow us to rely on our instincts

The threewomen was composed of three instincts

Each sniffing divergently directed draughts

The first instinct    first again    (may

Renascent gods save us from the enigmatic

Penetralia of Firstness)

Was to be faithful to a man first

The second to be loyal to herself first

She would have to find which self first

The third which might as well have been first

Was to find out how many toes the

Philosopher Giovanni Bapini had first

Giovanni Franchi hooligan-faced and latin-born

You imagine what he looked like

Looked as nearly as he could as the

Philosopher looked

His articulations were excellent

Still where Giovanni Bapini was cymophanous

Giovanni Franchi was merely pale

He scuttled winsomely

To its distribution from a puffer

For the declaration of War

His acolytian sincerity

The sensitive down among his freckles

Fell in with the patriotic souls of flags

Red white and green flags fillipping piazzas

When the ‘National Idea’ arrived on the Milan Express

Continually cutting off an angle from Paschkowski’s

Through plate-glass swingings

To look as busy bodily

As the philosopher’s brain was

As Giovanni Bapini importuned mobs

From monumental gums

To the sparky detritus

From the hurried cigarette

Of his disciple

Whose papa and mama kept a trattoria

Audaciously squatting right opposite the Pitti Palace

The Pitti Palace however stolid could hardly help noticing

Being an aristocrat it went on looking

As plainly piled up as ever

The Pitti Palace has never been known to mention the trattoria

Or mention Giovanni Franchi

Sitting in it

At a book

It could not see from that distance

Giovanni watching the munchers supporting his parents

With an eye

On assuring himself

Of their sufficient impression

By erudition

He was so young

That explains so much

No book ever explained what to be young is

But they look so much more important for that

Giovanni was in continuous ecstacy

Induced by the imposing look of them

When Giovanni Bapini spoke of them

He could not tell

How completely more precious

Would be such knowledge

As how many toes the philosopher Giovanni Bapini had

Now the threewomen

For pity’s sake

Let us think of her as she to save time

Seeing the minor Giovanni

Sitting at the major Giovanni’s feet

Made sure he must be counting his toes

All to the contrary he was picking the philosopher’s brains

Happy in the security that when he had done

He would still be youthful enough to sort out his own

He listened at the elder’s lips

That taught him of earthquakes and

Of women –

His manners were abominable

He would kill a woman

Quite inconspicuously it is true

And neglect to attend her funeral

I mean the older man

And what he told

Giovanni Franchi

About these pernicious persons

Was so extremely good for him

It entirely spoilt his first love-affair

To such an extent          it never came off

We have read of

Trattoria  meaning eating house.

Piazzas or squares

The Pitti Palace  enormous

And Paschkowski’s for beer

All are in Firenze

Firenze is Florence

Some think it is a woman with flowers in her hair

But NO it is a city with stones on the streets

Giovanni Bapini often said

Everybody in Firenze knows me

And everybody did

Excepting – That is she didn’t

She never knew what he was

Or how he was himself

Yet she uniquely was the one

To speculate upon the number of his toes

The days growing longer

Fulfilling her of curiosity

She made a moth’s net

Of metaphor and miracles

And on the incandescent breath of civilizations

She chased by moon-and-morn light

Philosopher’s toes

As virginal as had he never worn them

Clear of ‘white marks means money’

All quicks and cores

They fluttered to her fantasy

Fell into her lap

While she gathered her ferny flounces about them

They inappropriately passed

But Giovanni Franchi was there

He almost winked it at her

That he was there

His eyes were intrepid with phantom secrets

The Philosopher had flung to him

And as she tripped by him

She guessed these all

All but the number of those toes

She made diurnal pilgrimage

To the trattoria

To eat

Trout    that might have been trained for circuses

If minarets grew in miniature whirlpools

And mayonnaise that helped her to forget

That what is underneath need never matter

She put all minor riddles out of her

Such as

What was the under-cover of Franchi’s book

Telling to the plaid pattern of the tablecloth

Too shy to interrogate

She sent ambassadors

To the disciple

They returned

Oh rats

Quite manifest that Giovanni Franchi

Some semieffigy

Damned by scholiums

Knew no more      how many toes –

Than Giovanni Bapini knew himself.

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