A Manga Artist in Rome

Drawing manga with a kid in Europe.

The child is a breathless
doodler of stories,
and they are speeding cars on a day that
an old man chooses for quiet.

Streams of explanation,
loose sense from Italian,
but his kawaii smiles translate to Japanese.

There’s a new trend for collecting plastic tokens
and cards
for a shouty game,
with a coloured bit to see through;
so the boy has, in a branded carrying pouch, five of these,
and is proud of them.

The artist can only hope it won’t be tasteless tea
that’s poured by young designers,
their worst work on these cards.

He’s happy and relieved that, at least,
the Italian kid
enjoys drawing.

If the artist remembers most art as forgetful,
there are always stories
in which clouds move,
and snow falls in the right shades,
and melts onto the projected screen
and page;

then turns to rain
for the right reasons,
at a recognisable life and pace.

Human violence
and work towards
the lasting good remains,

while there is a fire,
to cook
and speak with,
or to warm
against the embittered, clouded heart.

Good with a pencil
as long as the wind is in his grey hair
(difficult to work with),
Big eyes drawn for smiles,
that shine
on mechanical detail
behind,
giving life.

A cast of Earth’s protectors,
with wonders overturned
on their oversized eyes
to see a quest through,
make habitats into heartlands
and a heavy hunter’s steps light,
in a sky of surprise.

A rising sun asks
families of engineers
knit boisterously by know-how,
to continue human work
for all who try for sleep,
under politician’s and
polluter’s
hangar of night.

What a rising sun asks us –
a creature’s big work
with us,
for himself,
under a leaf
or a child’s umbrella,
balooning-when-he-breathes,
on the summoned travels of
both a cat and a bus.

The Spirit’s instinct,
in this kind of weather,
is to keep charmed loved ones close.

We are not our
heroes,
nor our enemies,
in cartoons.

Smiling, the green crayon disobeys the child’s orders
or listens when
something that isn’t a shape, becomes a face,
then missing,
as if he’s lost a friend,
when the Italian kid scribbles over it.

It is dismaying when a small hand lays that crayon down –
(mischievously labelled with a studio’s name)
it’s waxy eyes at rest
from the effort,
to watch
red, gold and silver robots march
over horizons,
and a pilot to man machine guns
of no consequence,
to black and grey
drone battle.

Instead of a given tree
under an air conditioner,
Saturday morning came for my generation to
watch TV,
it’s colours and cost-cutting backgrounds,
mostly all of them,
just because.

The animator offers a super-deformed smile,
the soft line a wobble
as if an unconvincing Centurion startled a Sister,
her angels guided into turquoise
inside a tattered sketchbook,
her tour on the way to confidence
that once hid
where the shadow of a steeple couldn’t reach.

It might not be too devastating to nod encouragingly
at his new friend
were it possible even in these times
for a young man to luck upon the path
that the determined old man did,
cantankerously,
and for hard work to make unbreakable sense
of story-like visions that, in turn, make
adventures of a career.

Knowing little of the language,
A passer-by or the waiter, asks for the tidy gentleman’s autograph
and, in return,
gets a small doodle of a pig,
spaghetti sauce at imagined corners.

A bicycle thief with a new camera strap,
put pennies in the Trevi Fountain,
throwing suspicion
right over his wrong shoulder;
knowing he must take
to give,

when the fountain forms a mouth for coins
and a body like sea-breeze
that you have lent your face to,
seeming to wink with eyes of hope
for every offering,
however small.

A street musician in the distance;
a child with an accordion,
knocks out a few crowd-pleasing tunes,
before being moved on by Polizia.

A misunderstanding in the air
disturbs the green, white, and red flags,
in Roma,
– high priests –

as two wizards disperse clouds,
dodge balloons and Zeppelins,
to spell out their small disagreements.

One of them is angry;
the other has welcomed his tea
timidly on a cat’s saucer.

The artist tests his famed motor skills
on the engine for a new kind of craft to fly home;
past artless security checks,
for children and their families,
looking for sky and land’s
escape
in the Terminal,
in the integrity of their entertainment.

A hesitant Spirit cameos his uncertain role in the frame.

The child returns to his mother, who smiles.

The tabletop is fixed to what looks like a column.

The distant libretto heard in police sirens
has stopped.

When the bill is settled,
under cents and euros,
despite the wind,

he imagines the Colosseum
as if he built it,
to newly-excavated blueprints, to look like something else.

He has shelves full of books about the world,
for his.

Now he’s here preparing noodles for his colleagues, throughout the night,
inbetweening,

the way
paint can turn
street light into
what father and son understand
of the day.

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