His Cousin, 1948

asemic writing

there’s no smoking gun, but I’m shot

when the sick is sunk
when the suck is soft
when you’re licked and the lift
and the luck is lost
when the sins sink in
when the slink ain’t slick
when low light’s left
little’s long to list
our troubles shout
our travails trick trots
our rickshaw’s wheels
sawed off and rot
oh, there’s no smoking gun,
but I’m shot, I’m shot
no, there’s not smoking gun
but I’m shot

When Vito Corleone Goes Back to Corleone

When Vito Corleone goes back to Corleone
to kill Don Francesco
I’ll give you $1,000 for every Italian-American,
no matter how devoted to Catholic dogma –
no matter how many times he has railed against
portrayals of Italian-Americans in popular media
as either mafioso or dull-witted apes in Ed Hardy t-shirts –
$1,000 for each one out there who says to his screen,
"Why are you going back there Vito?"
"Vito, can’t you let sleeping dogs lie?"
"Vito, you’re doing well in America. Why not just let bygones be bygones?"
"No, Vito. Let the old man live! Yes, he had your father killed, and your brother killed, and also your mother, but look at him, he’s just a weak old man? What would killing him prove?"

When Godfather II is played
for the millionth time
on the television in the TV lounge
of MaCaulay Hall, the retirement home
for the order of the Sisters of Mercy,
and Vito leans into Don Francesco and says
"My father was Antonio Andolini – and this is for you,"
and sticks the blade of the knife
into the old man and rips him open,
from his stomach to his throat,
every 90-year-old-nun in the room
who is still capable pumps her wizened fist
and lets a "Yes!" or, perhaps, "Amen!"
escape from her lips.

We rejoice because it is
something we believe down to our marrow,
whether you’ve been raised on
linguine and the Acts of the Apostles,
beef brisket and Abraham,
humus and the Prophet Muhammad,
or whatever –
actions should have consequences,
because without consequences all is permitted,
because lacking the choice to deliver consequences
or to turn the other cheek and live in the present,
there is only helplessness –
and to be helpless is to be tormented.

* * * * *

Fifteen years ago,
an assassin entered our house
to murder my father,
and he has stayed in our house,
doing his long, slow, cruel work
ever since.

He has rubbed out my father
in painstaking detail over the years,
each day erasing a little more
of him from us and us from him.

And on bad days I think to myself –
where is that far-off padrone,
where is that man in the white suit
who sent this murderer to us
that I may aim my gun at him,
that before sticking the blade in
I may lean into him and whisper
"my father was good man –
and didn’t deserve this."

For what good is a son who is helpless to
do anything.

Translations Need Not Be Checked

Talk to me
as a destination
old and slightly dirty
but still popular.

Talk to me
where languages may not be
“legitimate, democratic and sovereign” processes
in the areas they take over.

Talk to me
as a translation,
as a definition of faded color.

Talk to me
as that which cannot be clear and bright.

Talk to me
as the things that go round,
as the things that flutter down,
as the things you see in your head.

Talk to me
as flat tires to the pot-holed roads they curse,
as fallen leaves on their first introduction to the dirt,
as the dream to the waking which pierces through.

But talk to me.

his brother (1973)

visual poem using asemic writing

his nieces (2007)

visual poetry using asemic writing

his cousins (1935)

visual poetry using asemic writing

his mother (1934)

visual poetry using asemic writing

the peaches pay for the sins of the tree

the peaches pay
for the sins of the tree
in some small way
no wider than a flea
no wiser than a slash
in some small bird
for the cure of the rash
for the health of the herd

so pitied, we walk small
there’s no pretty way to flee
the sins of fallen peaches
the way you walk in me

grey smiles from a grey trunk

the colors they are getting grey
a way to say a fade
a thin hint of tinted dim

when we wash out
what will we be
will we be white
will we be pretty
white pure pretty
white like white
or will the candles in our teeth
bleed out the smile of candlelight

the hollers, the black blankets
a fade of ways to say
a tint without a hint

when they are washed out
what will we be
white stems
of something sunk
grey colors
in grey pictures
grey smiles
from a grey trunk