By Liza Franzoni
Great grandfather Angelo dreamed
of America, the beautiful land
where Count Bettoni
could not tell him “faster!”
in the villa gardens
where among the plants
day after day.
One day, Angelo had enough,
told his boss to go to hell.
He had to leave his magical town
where year ’round the streets
were filled with the scent of flowers.
His dreams could be held no longer
safely submerged in the depths
of Lago Di Garda, but had to rise
as lakes do every spring
to purge themselves. He hiked
over the Alps to Switzerland,
then America, the land of the free.
The boat landed in the Battery
during the Blizzard of ’88.
Angelo’s first impression
of the magic land of his dreams
was the horse shit and slush
all the people had to wade through
to get off the boat.
Angelo was not impressed.
He found out this America
was not what he dreamed
as day after day
he dug ditches with other Italian men
who cursed under their breath
the padrone who yelled “faster!”.
In the Dellawanna section of Clifton
he was known as “Angelino Bresciagne
sonnez la guitar”
and when he wasn’t working,
he made wine and music
for the benefit
Little Angel from Brescia playing the guitar.
His dreams never died, were passed on —
my grandfather organized men against big business.
Bosses sent their thugs, beat him bloody,
tried to drain Angelo’s dreams from his bones.
But it didn’t work, the dreams
live on in the stories, in us
who haven’t forgot how to dream,
how to work with our hands
to create our lives beautifully —
our survival against the weight
all around us.
As for this America. A melting pot?
More like a soup left unattended
where all the scum
rises to the top.
And it’s up to us dreamers
to do some skimming
and give it a good stir,
because the pot’s boiling over
and the good stuff on the bottom
is starting to scorch.
And always remember
to do it with love
and in case you forget
listen for the Little Angel,
the Little Angel playing the guitar.