As midnight tolled its long count
our host Stefano tumbled down
into the oleander plants
around the border of the lawn

Valley dogs were barking
as we pulled him from the fiori,
laughing and unspectacled.
We offered our grazie mille

then left by separate ways
diverging from the lantern light
into the spark-peppered dark
of a new-moon summer night.

Feeling for the crumbled asphalt
with the soles of wandering shoes
I recalled Maria’s warning
of fierce cinghiali sows.

At an unremembered bend,
which may have curled to home
or the dereliction of a ditch,
a chariot of fireflies came

to carry me high and waving
like a flag of well, whatever…
over olives, figs and walnuts,
down from the wild Maiella

to the tattered edge of town
where leathery lucciole
wait for secret charioteers;
the depot where Giuseppe

works early morning shifts
before tending to his nursery
of aubergines and peppers;
the broken-windowed factories

empty by the autostrada;
the seaside conurbation
sleeping for a sunny day;
then back over corrugations

of coppi, to set me down swirly
at my door. How many it took
to fly a drunk I can’t say for sure
they’d gone before I looked

but this I know my clothes were torn
my shoes were in a dreadful state
– you let the fireflies guide you home
and this’ll be the price you pay.

Image credit:PiConsti


Marc Woodward is a poet whose work has been widely published in journals and anthologies, and a musician who has performed and taught internationally.

He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and commended for the Aesthetica Award and the Acumen prize.

A New Yorker by accident of birth, he has been resident in rural Devon, England for a loooooong time.

Recent collections:

‘Fright of Jays’ published 2015 by Maquette Press;

’Hide Songs’  published 2018 by Green Bottle Press.

’The Tin Lodes’ (co-written with Andy Brown) published 2020 by Indigo Dreams Press.


‘Shaking the Persimmon Tree’ published in 4/2022 by Sea Crow Press.

‘Grace Notes’ a collection of music related poems written in collaboration with Andy Brown is due out from Sea Crow Press in 2023.

He can be found on Facebook at

and on twitter @marcomando or at