old italians

“You have seen them/ the ones who feed the pigeons/ cutting the stale bread/ with their thumbs & penknives/ the ones with old pocketwatches/ the old ones with gnarled hands/ and wild eyebrows/ the ones with the baggy pants/ with both belt & suspenders/ the grappa drinkers with teeth like corn/ the Piemontesi the Genovesi the Siciliani/ smelling of garlic & pepperoni/ the ones who loved Mussolini/ the old fascists/ the ones who loved Garibaldi/ the old anarchists reading L’Umanita Nova/ the ones who loved Sacco & Vanzetti/ They are almost all gone now/ They are sitting and waiting their turn/ and sunning themselves in front of the church”

— from “The Old Italians Dying,” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 1919-2021

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