Our primary relationships have the greatest impact on us. Those of family, extended, would be considered primary. We start relating to our family while still in the womb, and continue relating, on what can be called an unconscious level until we are approximately 21 years old. At 21 we have maturated to full psychological capacity. Meaning we can, at this point, began to process our experiences. Until (of course psychological maturity can begin earlier or later then 21, 21 is only a mean) we gain psychological maturity we take in our experiences on a strict emotional level. The power of our emotions without a reasoning process prevents us from making change. If we can not see the causes and effects in our relationships we are stuck with their emotions which are formidable barriers to change.
The poems presented were written over a period of years, and all contain the theme of family relationships, from my perspective. My intention is to cause a recognition within you of your own family relationships and hopefully help to release their pent up emotions bringing reconciliation and peace.
There was a time I knew my home
and the direction it did lay.
A two story brick storefront, cornering
the block, a harbor, a friendly, familiar
place to dock.
On snow covered days, I’d shovel
south to north from the alley, scrapping
the side walk clean. The shovel would
invariably thump the corrugated metal
plate my father made to cover an iron
grate. My stomach then would feel the
sharp tip of the shovel handle.
At the corner, I pushed a single path west
toward Gigi’s side walk, then plowed
strip by strip past the mail box to the curb.
A technique learned from Frank the Grocer.
Now the two steps from the walk to the street
for bus rider appreciation and then finished
Mounting the shovel over my shoulder in soldier
fashion, I’d springily stride over the cleaned walk,
through the back yard gate, look lovingly at the pine
tree I planted, mount the stairs, absorb the homely
atmosphere and gently nap long side the warm
There was a time I knew my home and the direction
it did lay. Centering from the brick two story, its
boundaries extended miles in all directions, like
Architurs in the evening’s western sky, a reliable
fix had I.
Northward, passed cousin Mary Ann’s house, the
railroad tracks, where balancing games, flattened
pennies, cries for chalk, floating, flashing, beaconed lights,
shrill whistles, rhythmic clicks of iron wheels on iron rails,
and powerful whiffs of air, were the order of things;
passed Aunt Annie’s, passed Rose’s fragrant Lillocks,
passed Duke the friendly Shepard, and passed block
after block of infinitesimal points, intimately tangent.
Southward, passed the old house, and the tree where
I caught a falling baby sparrow, my father set a ladder
to put the bird safely back into the nest; passed Cornia’s
slippery, juicy cherry tree, passed the corner lot, where
summer baseball was played daily, then converted easily
to a race track for soap box cars, passed Keichen’s
Grocery Store, where my mother once worked, and
where my attitude was dubbed, Louie the Thurd, passed
the 5 blocks of my paper route and passed block after
block of infinitesimal points, intimately tangent.
East and West, passed thousands of neurologically
recorded scenarios held fast by the camera in my mind’s
eye. Panazzo’s Funeral Home, where my father was laid
to rest, my high school, Vience’s Barber Ship, the school
grounds and parks where my spent energy must still be
whirling; the churches, the drug stores, my sister’s homes
the Michigan Ave hill leading to Pullman, Lake Calumet
where my bobber floated away, the etchings on the
side walks, “Beamster 1947,” the alleys, all points of
Oh! yes there was a time I knew my home and the
direction it did lay. Finding my way by feeling the
cord of this umbilical tie.
Now I am severed, cast draft, no fixed point, no breath
of relief, no sanctuary, no kindred spirit, no intimacy,
no return, no home, relying only on dead reckoning.
Yet! there was a time I knew my home.
death comes to my Pa Pa
My eyes were dry, I took his hand
warmth in a wasted man. I stroked
his head, please Pa don’t be dead.
We shared a family place, but how
unfamiliar his face. A spectre, a t-shirted
form speaking to me of sports:
“Rocky Caliveto, hit another home run.
He does it with strong wrists.”
“Did you see that left hook, like a slap
from a lion’s paw.”
Pa, why didn’t you talk to me the why
you did my friends?
Pa, did you love other women? Make
mistakes when you were young?
Pa, what was growing up like in Italy?
Damn your soul! I threw his hand to
his sunken chest. You left me without
showing me what it is like to be a man.
My eyes were wet, when they took him
away in the van.
Years to be a man
Pa, forgive me, I did not understand
It took me 40 years to learn to be a man.
I was blind, and listened only to my need.
I couldn’t hear over my emotional greed.
Your love was stamped on my chest.
Yet, I didn’t accepted it believing it wasn’t the best.
Pa Pa, I am sorry, what manner of man have I been,
to decline the precious gift you freely had given.
We shared a family place. How selfish was my face?
A father to his son
“Son! determination the stuff real men are made of.”
“Yes Dad! but how do I know how to get determination?”
“Determination is learned. You set a goal, one of course that
is within your capabilities, for instance, making the baseball
team, then focus your thoughts and energy toward its achievement.
That is how to do it.”
‘seeing you stand there on the brink
of life, excites and frightens me. all
the marvels and suffering lie immanently
before you, and I your father have a responsibility
to help shape your journey. I am frightened
I’ll lead you wrong; I am frightened you’ll not
like me;I am frightened of the power that will
grow within you, challenging my manliness, and
mostly I am frightened to hold you in my arms
and reveal my fears.’
“Yes Dad! but how do I know my capabilities?”
“You will develop a feeling for what you can and
can not do, as you grow older.”
“Yes Dad! but where does this feeling come from?”
“You’ll just have it. Don’t ask stupid questions.
Go play somewhere.”
‘I don’t know the answer to your question, and I am
annoyed at myself for not knowing. I am sorry
son. I like to give you a big hug but I am frightened
you would think I am weak.’
my dear parents
Dear parents, know that your deepest and strongest
feelings penetrated to my total being.
Your aspirations awakened a spectrum of possibilities
Your failures, on all levels, diminished the possibilities.
Your achievements, on all levels, increased the possibilities.
In our house regret and anger lived, like a manifest energy
that licked into my every pore.
A large part of my life was directed toward transforming
that negative energy into positive life force.
That initiation of fire, allowed me to understand a great
truth: although, I assimilated your deepest feeling, I am
from you but not either of you. I am your son, the baseline
of our family triangle: father-mother, son, following an
elemental, Cosmic Hierarchy. As the baseline I connect the
father-mother and evolve them into a more perfect form-me.
They sacrificed their lives in giving their life force to me, so that
I might progress beyond them. If you look very closely at life
you will see, that it originates from compassion and sacrifice.
There is a Buddha saying, that if you were to carry your mother
on your shoulders for your entire life, that not satisfy her sacrifice