Poems from Plunge


February 8, 1945

Bullets strafe his P–47
as stuttering pistons bleed
a firestorm, downward spiral
a physicist would admire
yet my father always hated math.
his canopy jammed
 life be damned!
How many seconds left
to pull the cord?
But he’s lucky that day
free of the Jug, helluva story.
Floats in silken fall
over Lago di Garda’s
marbled edge.
Impact! Mountain rock
against tibia, femur.
Partigiani emerge
through dark forest
bundle his chute
camouflage debris.
Only my father
remains to be hidden.
The Germans, tedeschi, are

Night Composes Its Own Music

A rabble of hunting dogs sense
            their barbed–wired boundary
                      breeched, become frenzied
            when the motorcycles pass
                      as village Romeos return home,
rousing the roosters long before dawn.

Every quarter hour, church bells
            punctuate my restlessness,
                      then a second chiming
            from a lower hamlet a few minutes
                      later. Even Medieval monks
were spared bells between Compline and Matins.

Never mind most men have secured
            their cars and scythes, that the women
                      have tucked their kitchens to bed.
            The children are asleep, exhausted from
                      their chores and the television.
Even the dumb cows are finally silent,

sated from the slopes’ summer bounty.
            My heartbeat is loudest of all,
                      longing to kiss you
            without fear, the ears of villagers
                      sharp for new gossip,
old sins. Did the town’s ancient clerics

find sleep, the promise of everlasting life,
            their comfort in chastity? Or did they,
                      too, succumb to desire,
            rumors of the current priest and his
                      housekeeper, la moglia del prete,
the wife of the priest?

Why did my lover not
            join me this evening?
                      I want the bells to stop.
            I would do anything
                      to sleep, the night’s cruel
nocturne a tease to my flesh.

La Famiglia

La farina, le uova,
flour and eggs.
Olio, burro, sale,
pepe, rosmarino,
basilico, ragù.
Kitchen staples.
Love with a pinch
of pepper. Resentment
with spoonfuls of salt.
The yeast of tedium
rises. Resignation
stored by the kilo.
Yet sometimes
a tiramisù,
invites pleasure.