Saturday, November 01, 2008

Avanti Popolo

Avanti Popolo (Italian-American Writers Sail Beyond Columbus) Manic D Press, San Francisco, 2008. Includes writing by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Diane di Prima, Ed Coletti, James Tracy, Gil Fagiani, Lawrence DiStasi, Thomas Centolella, Kim Nicolini, Kim Addonizio, Giancarlo Campagna, and many others.

Columbus, the Mafia, & Denial

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the Ocean blue.


Columbus Circle
June 29th 1971
Joe Columbo
shot into 7-year coma
not by
Laughing Otter
nor by
Green Rock Woman
not even Crazy Horse
Crazy Joe Gallo
but by
an African-American
Jerome Johnson.
It was about
Columbo’s thing
not our thing
as in my thing
but Cosa Nostra as in
Mafia’s Thing
as in
Christopher Columbus’s
thing, that made-man who
dwells among us ever since.

Joe Columbo
only 40
youngest mob boss ever
maintained to the press
“There ain’t no mafia
no cosa nostra!”
And that Christopher Columbus
was a “great Italian role model.”
Today we might call him
A made-man
by those
Cappi di Tutti Cappi,
somehow Spanish
Cabezas de Todas Cabezas
Jefes de Todos Jefes”
who kissed Cristobal
on each Italian cheek
The naming is the creation:
“Let there be
Cristobal Colon
from Cristofero Columbo,
And there was.
Hence forth this
to make our History!


Indians! Indians! Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

Columbus announced,
“When you ask for
something they have,
They never say no.
Give me, give me
Gold, Gold, Gold!
Give me, give me
Slave, Slave, Slave!”
And I seriously doubt he ever said,


He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

Joe Columbo and the Gambino gang
Traded in heroin all over Harlem.
They didn’t bring it to a king or president.
They just brought it along with
Protection, prostitutes, and numbers rackets.
“Their ain’t no mafia, no cosa nostra,”
Columbo cried, but La Cosa Nostra
Sails on and on like those
Three little ships...(that) left from Spain
(Columbus, this poor excuse for an Italian)
Sailed through sunshine, wind, and rain.

by Ed Coletti in Avanti Popolo, 2008

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Masterful, lovely. . .