Poems, Part One


pig on spit

The Beggar and the Baker

The beggar stood before the brazier
Drawn by the essence rising
From the crackling spattering piglet
Skewered turning hissing

He had in one hand a petty coin
The other, a piece of bread
The petty coin sufficed to buy
Of that pig not a shred

He held the bread above the vapor
Rising from the roast
Hoping thus to lend some flavor
To his bit of toast.

He raised his bread to eager lips
The baker cried, “Stop thief
You’ve got to pay for what you’ve taken.”
The beggar gaped in disbelief

A guardsman came to arbitrate
But he too was perplexed:
“This matter is beyond my ken.
I’d rather judge be vexed.”

They made their case before the judge
Who listened with reserve
He eyed the beggar, transfixed the baker:
“The law, it must be served.

It’s clear the bread some flavor gained
He must be paid in kind.”
He dropped the coin so that it rang:
“Your payment, Sir, the sound.”

The Good Old Days

My father came in 1912
My mother in ’13
The left a stony stingy land
To find their dream

My mother in a sweatshop
My father in a ditch
They worked extremely hard
They never struck it rich

They were exploited
Denied of much they wrought
In Sicily, they’d worked
Just as hard for naught

I hope that we shall never see
Those good old days repeated
What seemed a rosy golden age
To cheaters and the cheated



A European Education

The best fare to Naples in ’55
The Roma of the Achille Lauro Line
A hundred-sixty dollars bread and vino,
A cabin shared with two men from Montclair
I chose a one way ticket a gesture
Like Cortes who burned his ships in Vera Cruz

We departed in a squally springtime blow
And were battered by heavy angry seas
Casualties were light a broken arm (not mine)
Glassware china some ill-digested meals,
Forgotten when the Azores came in view
Glistening a floating forest wrapped in rain
Accessible only to oared lighters
Which danced out to meet our swaying ship
And madly bobbing, collected cargo
Ragged sailors performed routinely
Miracles arcane to us who lined the rail
Hand and eye recalling skills inherent
To heroes on Homer’s wine-dark sea.



Forgive this letter Messer Francesco but
Six months have passed. We did our part as pledged
The mason Goro, Gerini Niccolo and I
Worked on the loggia two months and twenty days
“The glory of Datini’s name.” you said
And we agreed, “the finest house in Prato.”
It puts Palazzo Medici to shame

Agreed, the costs were more that we proposed
Who knew the Turks would close the Straits
And raise the price of lapis lazuli
Azzurro trasmarino!, we didn’t stint
The Fiorentini make do with blu of alemagna
As do you merchants in your cheapest cloth
The Fiesolani have held the line:
Azzurro fino! And mark the cornices:
Gold leaf throughout while others stoop to silver
And we employed four men throughout the work
You know what they demand these blessed days?
Why even slaves cost more than a white mule
Again, thanks to our friends, the infidels
Old news to you Messer Francesco you swore
To drop that dirty trade if you were spared
The plague is done, commemorate your vow

So pay these sixty florins, good Francesco
Don’t wait for plagues to force you to what’s just
Your notary, Ser Lapo Bucci, is of like mind:
To fix this matter quickly out of court
The time he’s wasted on this business, he said
He could have found the road to paradise.
I have served you well, and would serve again
If you would pay us for the loggia’s work
With all respect,

A. Gaddi, Dipintore



Villa Vivalda,1998

From detritus

Our petty theft of cherries from the tree
Evoked the crickets’ earliest cri, cri
Reproved, we scanned the garden for the pair
Of Falerini who from earth and air

Brought forth cabbage, chard, empty cocoon
Lettuce, trilobite, carrot, cardoon
Celery, scrap of bone, artichoke, leek
Fennel, basil, foraminifer, beet
Radicchio, arugula, amber, quartz
Parsley, zucchini, scallion, shallot, shard
Strawberry, raspberry, ammonite, kale
Spinach, snail, handmade rusty nail
Radish, alabaster, oregano, thyme
Prokaryote (from primeval slime)

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Falerini earth and air
“That zuccone IS beyond compare”

To detritus

We plumbed Etruscan tombs in Chiusi
We wandered Todi’s dark viuzze
We sought the verities in Pienza
In preparation for Firenze

Leonardo, Botticelli, Giotto
Brunelleschi, Cimabue, Lotto
Piero, Pintoricchio, Pitti
Foppa, Antonino da San Gallo
Caravaggio, Figlio di Nessuno
Biccio, Baccio, Anonimo, Masaccio
Ferragamo, Scarpa che Scricchiola
Attribuzione Scuola D’ Ignoti
Mimmo, Memmo, Cossa, Tura, Piombo
Daddi, Gaddi, Dosso Dossi, Duccio ….

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Falerini Falerini
Winnow  scarify  rend us
Fold us in your nimbus