The Dead Man’s Alibi

by Giovanni Raboni

Judas says that his alibi was shaken,
the dead man’s: that’s why the dead man went down to the courtyard.
But the alibi was sound; the dead man was rehabilitated:
nobody says that Judas was mistaken.

The medical examiner says that the wounds
are not incompatible with the mechanics of
a fall from a high place.  The newspaper concludes
that therefore the dead man was a suicide.

Miserable old men who out of pity
for themselves ought to be dead
talk to us out of mirrors, warn us, show us the future,
come out of mirrors in order to kiss the dead.

The killer was quick to speak ill of the dead man.
A killer was heard to sympathize with a dead man.
A killer was seen to kiss the forehead of a dead man.
You see that killers don’t disregard the dead.

8:30 p.m. the drunkard’s lamentation
8:31 the scoundrel’s castigation
8:32 the imbecile’s advice
8:33 the hangman’s ultimatum

The stock market’s sound, the stock market reacts
with splendid, unexpected, encouraging vigor
to the news from the front, the proclamations, the limpid death
of the legionnaire killed by the enemy.

Wingless crows in the flat
shadow of the scales
trinity of cutthroats
brandishing the spears.

Judas says: the people were casting stones
at my warriors, that’s why my soldiers charged.
Of who was there it seems no notice was taken:
but the Senate decides that Judas was not mistaken.

Don’t preach the dictatorship
of one class over the other, that’s not your occupation.
Don’t say anything that might provoke
class hatred: they’ve already got the notion.

I speak for myself but maybe for you as well.
Friends, let’s tell the truth, I say:
It makes us happy when we feel oppressed;
what matters is being victims now, not being free someday.

translated by Michael Palma