Vino Rosso Della Guerra

Poem By Allesandra Patti

My father spoke of eating rats
to stay alive in World War I
as he lay in bloodied fields
while in the distance
he watched the vineyards glinting in the sun.

His mother had wailed as she watched him go
while his father’s bony finger
traced a purple cross

bare feet wedded to the grapes


to the beat of the drums

My mother said Mussolini was good
because he made everyone
throw their pigs out
of the house and made sure
everyone got pasta every day
but no meat.

By then the pigs had all been slaughtered
to feed the army.

In the garden behind her shack,
broccoli withered in the hot Sicilian sun,
water doled out like vino rosso to dying alcoholics.

'One liter too much and Il Duce’s soldati
might die of thirst, ' the peasants would hiss,
rolling their eyes, while huddling in dark cellars
where wine presses used to dwell.

The purple grapes that once graced
the countryside had all been razed
the culls remaining
just so many
rotting raisins.

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