L’Inglese RSS


30 April, 2015: L’Inglese


by Diane Gilliam
The English is rocky in the mouth,
so many hard sounds they batter the tongue
like coal clattering from the tipple
into the railroad car. It makes a longing
in the ear for a voice to rise and fall
like a fountain. They make new words —
they have no Tasso, they have no Dante
to tell them the names. It is months
I am wondering: What is "kettle bottom,"
il sotto della caldaia, that they fear?
Finally I ask Henry Burgess. He laughs,
he says it is the petrified tree trunk
buried in the mountain, two, three hundred
pounds. Drops through the mine roof,
Henry says, and makes a loud clap
with his hands. Kills a man
just like that
. For such a thing
I would not say "kettle bottom."
For such a thing I would say,
Lasciate ogni speranza
voi ch'entrate qui.

“L’Inglese” by Diane Gilliam, from Kettle Bottom. Perugia. 2004. Used by permission of the author.
(Note: The last two lines of “L’Inglese” repeat the motto over the entrance to Dante’s Inferno “Leave behind all hope, Ye who enter here.”)

Diane Gilliam is the author of three collections of poetry: Kettle Bottom, One of Everything, and Recipe for Blackberry Cake (chapbook). She of Akron, Ohio, has been a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship, the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing, and a Pushcart Prize. She is a graduate of Warren Wilson College and is currently writing full-time as the most recent recipient of the Gift of Freedom from the A Room of Her Own Foundation.


Carry a special poem with you today and share it with others.

Today is national Poem in Your Pocket Day. If you have a picture postcard, write a poem about that postcard small enough to fit on the card. If you don’t, simply write a postcard-sized poem on a card about a place you have visited. Carry it in your pocket today and share it, then mail it to someone tomorrow.

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READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.