Seven New Poems
New York’s Little Italy, c. 1900. Its inhabitants were described in 1896 as “toilers in all grades of work . . . artisans, junkmen, rag pickers”
Soundtrack to My Father’s Life
He loved Gershwin, opera, big bands, marching bands.
My father studied violin at the Bryn Mawr Conservatory
of Music, a school started by his oldest brother, a lofty ambition
for the son of Italian immigrants and one of eight children.
The house felt barren after he left.
Music no longer sprang from corners of rooms.
I remember his favourites — “Yellow Bird,”
“Mood Indigo,” “Bye-Bye Blackbird.”
I salvaged his vinyl collection from the basement, making space
above ground for his 45s from Decca Records, a 78 of
Liberace’s “Dark Eyes,” a Bing Crosby tune “When the Moon
Comes Over Madison Square.” Today I live near that park.
Paper Boy’s Daughter
The crumpling of newspapers
still echoes. My father reading
The Philadelphia Inquirer with morning coffee.
Flipping pages of the evening Bulletin
before dozing in his chair. Only seven,
he rose at five a.m. to deliver papers.
Honoured work from then on.
His hardware store staff enjoyed two
daily papers on the half-hour lunch break.
The town news agency, once abuzz with traffic,
now sits off the pike’s centre. Alone in the store,
I search for a recent byline, still hold reverent
the printed page and worlds it opened.
Lessons Learned from Moths
I learned the art of detachment
from a destructive pest
romanticised by poets
whose origins go back millions of years.
Celestial nomads that feast on
leather, wool, silk, felt
and thrive on night
taught me to let go of longing —
animals stuffed with memories,
dolls from a distant dad
an embroidered coat from Gimbels.
When I returned to my late mother’s home,
white larvae covered elegant outfits.
Soles fell from Ferragamo pumps.
Moths cunningly coached me to occupy now,
not dwell in closets lined with past lives
nor focus on nostalgia
tarnished by death and deceit.
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