Addio!

What is it I cannot say?

A clock’s resounding shrill
squeals away,
urging:
“all feet planted on the floor”
toward a car, a train, a bus
a door
pulling people-conveyors, travellators
an airbus breaks tentatively
free from terra firma
winging equivocally, launches in flight
unspoken sadness, a hungry goodbye:
Arrivederci!
…Roma

Lingering…
sweet and tender longing
for its sumptuous, red-blooded
eternal, Latin soul
seizing the time to live, lustily
amidst ancient, sculpted
marble proboscises
veined with pulsating, robust
Roman virility
prolific, sentient
chiseled-granite silhouettes
hewn nimbly
with singular artistic humility
shimmering all shapelessly
in a creamy vanilla sheen
of light-emitting diodes and a full moon’s bullish rising

Like a languishing
Federico F film
steamy summer nights
mirror,
flicker,
and roll foggily
on Tevere’s rippleless, rushing
black waters
tacit coy voracities
lie barely, just beneath
seductive, full-lipped smiles
untill we meet again:
good riddance!
I will miss you…
all the while
one meteoric moment mutually possessed
forever
and never
again, and again

Addio!

Savvy Tour Bus Operator

A pensive middle aged tour bus operator, wearing the contented face of a proud new papa of newborn twins for having just safely deposited his charge of vacationing Japanese tourists at the foot of the looming, unassuming giant wrapped in a cascade of white mist, unsuspectingly busy at work creating eerie moon-like craters and spewing micro slivers of fertile volcanic ash over human heads and tree tops for unimaginable, expansive reaches, stood silently, alone in the near empty parking lot at the summit of Mt. Etna. I approached srategically, so as not to startle him, and proceeded to ask in a manner that I thought was an obvious attempt at lost-tourist humor: “Prego signore”, as I gestured over the dizzying precipice toward the Google-like satellite photo beneath, “do you happen to know which is the best way to get back down to Earth?” For a moment he looked at me, as though I had managed to ask the most inane, philosophical, or maybe even impertinent question that anyone had ever posed in all of Sicilian history. He pondered thoughtfully, then after taking a long, deep cleansing breath he opined nasally, almost patiently, with an enormous, toothy, tolerant smile: “But sir… we are on the Earth right here, right now… we’re just a little higher up than usual… as you can see, if you look below at the beautiful blue Ionian Sea… è tutto…just follow the snaking road downward, all the way until you see the signs for the Autostrada… I think you’ll find yourself more comfortable there… at sea level…”

I realized later that he was right.

Monica 

On the younger side of middle-aged, caffè keeper, barista, Monica, Igor’s much younger wife, with her stiff and stout, white doughboy chef’s hat, a self-designed, baby blue silk screened Cala Piada T-shirt and smiling, deep-set, grey Sicilian eyes, asked me if I’d be having the same thing once again this morning, all while comically, theatrically enumerating on her mediterranean-tanned Italian digits starting from right thumb, index to middle finger: “3 large slices of cantaloupe, 6 thin slices of prosciutto di parma and a doppio caffè macchiato with extra milk, va bene così?”. Her ironic expression of both amusement for the predictability of my order and delight to see a familiar face, because alla fine, we had developed an unspoken mutual affection having become one another’s respective  side-street English/Italian teacher, inspired my irresistible urge to respond. I squinted sheepishly but squarely into her gentle, mischievous, shining eyes and retorted with a snide, curled up Boston Irish smirk spread knowingly across my mug: “Eh, sì, the usual, per favore!”

Plemmirio

Suspended
aloft and sailing…
on the current of a gust
delicious, warm and humid
indescribable ocean musk
a delicate jazz tune twinkles
and pours into my ear
sweet, familiar foreign vowels
stop and punctuate, a tossing briny air
spoken, sung… I soar deeper
into the azure, not here nor there
for a shimmer and crash, an Ionian undulation

I fly

I’m free
a fish in the sea

Driven

Driven.
By the need to flee…
abundant painful fruits
of an axiomatic belief
in seductive, powerful
delusions of control
as though ever we could know
by infinity’s grace,
all factors, all elements
all possible events
inherent in the creation
of one singular moment
double-tongued promises
of the spirited virtuous vice
grip the mind, commandeer the body
ransom the soul, creating chimerical
cocooning chemical catapults
slinging us like bugs
from merciless snares
splat!
smack! into panes of shattering glass
to start the long
overdue and arduous repair

Salty, Ensalada Verde with Onions

Peaceful plucking, flamenco strings
mellifluous dissonance, harmonies
ensalada verde, unremarkable request
impromptu noontime nourishment
splashed and tossed indigenous ingredients:
coconut oil, white table vinegar
fermented fruit of the palma real,
crushed garlic, crushed chili
crushed pepper and sea salt

Precious, unambitious
innocuous Salt!

Spice most consumed, by far by all
sprinkled, from simple
pimpled-glass-shakers
bought at any Walmart, from here to Beijing
Made in China, embossed boldly
high upon the rim,
tightly spring-loaded
black-plastic-suction-tops
designed to ensure “snap-on
uncompromised-sealed-protection”
from caking cross-Atlantic
African desert-dust and moisture
riding on, heaving on
retreating, briny, caribbean
trade winds

Impervious to fugues of fantasy
in quasi famished states
I cut hungrily into crisp,
succulent leaves of palish green,
cold and sweating, iceberg lettuce-cups
snapping moist against my dry, silent lips
hard, sinewy, orange-pink, yellow-green
striated, unripened tomatoes
from northern, southern nurseries
imported express for inauspicious
occasions, like an ordinary lunch
by luminescent lapping shores
extraordinary! ensalada verde
en Caña Gorda, al mar

Bobbing at the base
of its vinegary
saliferous, peppered stew
two small, raw
white concentric rings of onion
almost perfectly-sized
for graceful young women
to wear gently
around long, slender, flowing fingers
I bit in.
its steady-stinging, watery flesh
squirted
flooding my nostrils
with acrid sweet

In one fantastic
fleeting flash,
a firebolt
of memory…

A time more hopeful
and innocent with fun,
a foreign concept, the pangs of loss
my mother and I lie
wriggling on our bellies
on fresh-cut, sweet-green-grass
crossed at the ankles, legs flailing in the air
chortling with laughter

My eyes squint to see.

Her loving,
exuberant young face
beaming…
eclipsing
the early afternoon sun,
one surviving, conspicuous
glowingly chirping-yellow buttercup
brushes boldly
against my cheek
in the park across the street
eating home-grown
Bazik spuckies with tuna,
soupy mayonnaise
dripping
down my snickering, dolphin’s grin
and onions and pickles and potato chips
on our tickled breaths
she plucked the lone-surviving
persistent, cheery intruder
pressed it toward my chin
imploring playfully:
“make a wish”

A tear fell
sluggishly,
splashing with aplomb,
onto my plain
white
porcelain
china plate
of a saltier, now
ensalada verde
en Caña Gorda, al mar

waking from dreams

On occasion
I wake up not knowing where I am
I went on that trip again, to another planet
I think…
it’s the one dangling there
in the night sky
like a prismatic blue, crystal
window ornament
suspended, scintillating
the soft refracted light
of a flickering distant star,
where things flow flawlessly
one into another, organically, like jigsaw puzzle pieces
one moment, one thought, one whisper
…at a time
the one where I fly
like a thought without wings
over twinkling city skylines
and oceans vast with tall
salty waves’
metamorphosing haze
where I know every language
spoken
without a tongue to speak.
ears to listen, hands to write
eyes to read,
the one out there in here.
I don’t know where.
It’s the one like
a 20th Century Technicolor Fox film,
entertainment for sleeping,
story telling for the unconscious,
then I wake up.
slowly recognizing where I am
I reabsorb lessons
on how to navigate the impossible safety
of the shore,
by reading, what
I’m supposed to read
by writing, what
I’m supposed to write
by hearing, what
I’m supposed to hear
by speaking, what
I’m supposed to say
I take refuge.
in a cocoon-like compact,
feeling fortressed
by the freedom of its confinement

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