Gabi Basile

Stars-and-stripes Sicilian


Sicily, september proclaimed

quaint rowboats arranged on a church-glass ocean

and cobblestone alley corners bursting with flora,

october boasting prints of glossy brushstrokes,

overlapping colors unconstrained by any currency

but exchanging finger-rubbed coppers for tomatoes:

here is your casa.

godfather boy in classroom

lips pursed out and bobbing head,

the shine of a gun’s side

is Sicily, cigar ash on puffy wedding sleeves

or long fingernails clutching vinegar-soaked

cucumbers, cold pizza and television hot tub sex,

here is your eredità.

northern italian friends describe liquid trash

running underground Sicily, and people much the same

ethnographies describe black lace covering bristly christian hair

nonna’s apron folding with her fleshy stomach

and glad gambling under yellow light,

women and children barred, dogs

here is your verità.


stubby fingers with round knuckles

dragging comb through bottle-dark hair

and pastina in store-brand chicken stock,

my father stews braciole and burns it

like his mother did when pop took out the belt

under the cross, he was wine-drunk

while their stained sink bubbled eggplant

and cockroaches scuttled the plaster.

i wasn’t far out of the wooden highchair

when my father demanded i drink red wine

from a thin dixie cup,

i crumpled it and handed him the pink-stained paper

and told him i was Siciliano.

Gabi Basile is a junior English major at SUNY Geneseo. She spends her time fencing, metal-working, and waiting for it to be sunny. She loves old fantasy novels and spruce trees for their smell among other things. Gabi is from Poughkeepsie, NY.