Amy Barone’s latest chapbook, Kamikaze Dance, is from Finishing Line Press, which recognized her as a finalist in the annual New Women’s Voices Competition. Her poetry has appeared in Gradiva, First Literary Review-East, Paterson Literary Review, Sensitive Skin and Standpoint (UK). She spent five years as Italian correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily and Advertising Age. Foothills Publishing published her chapbook, Views from the Driveway. A PEN America Center professional member, she also belongs to the brevitas online poetry community. A native of Bryn Mawr, PA, she lives in New York City.
I knew those days were numbered—
riding on the back of a motorino at midnight, racing the moon,
as the Ionian Sea’s turquoise cover lit our way.
I knew someday I’d leave Europe and August breaks.
I’d bid addio to my freelance journalist job,
become more responsible and vacation in less exotic locales.
So I chose to savor every minute in Zante,
birthplace of poet Ugo Foscolo,
precious time with friends from Milan,
like Fiona, a schoolteacher whose mother had roots to the island.
Greek poet Homer celebrated Zante in The Iliad and The Odyssey.
He claimed its first inhabitant was the son of the King of Troy.
Venice ruled and protected the island for a spell.
A pilgrimage to Navagio Beach’s 1981 shipwreck marked our nod to history.
Channeling Artemis, we explored the island late mornings,
found beaches far from the hard-drinking English,
where we hoped to spot Zante’s famously protected sea turtles.
We wiled away afternoons with Greek gods,
who served up fresh grilled calamari and wine so pure,
hangovers became a thing of the past.
Doing nothing was everything.
Staring into the sea became our pastime.
On Zante, I paired up with Adonis,
an ecologist who lived year-round on the island.
He wore his broodiness and dark, wavy hair real well.
Fiona partnered with Yanni, and we danced our nights away.
One afternoon, en masse, we set sail for a nearby island,
home to a sole monk.
Made the beach our kitchen and bedroom
until awakened by a flock of sheep taking a walk in the rising sun.
Leaving Zante for Milan wasn’t hard.
Most dreams have an endpoint.
One summer, Greece’s heart took me prisoner.
On Lake Garda, James Joyce met Ezra Pound.
St. Francis of Assisi built a monastery.
Catullus wrote wicked poems of love and betrayal.
My American friend Lisa swam with snakes.
Land of lemons, olives, and holm oaks.
In Desenzano, we ate soft shell crabs and drank Bardolino wine
on Piazza Matteotti until the nightlife lit up.
Everyone needs a Marfa to hone inspiration.
Escape to Italy’s largest lake, up North, dream and write,
climb Torre di San Martino, slay resistance.
Sesta Terra (Porto Venere)
Below a grey castle in the sky, a blanket
of yellow and crimson wild flowers has been laid.
In a literary moment, I stumble on a placard
marking the spot where Byron set off on a risky swim.
I take it he survived.
After too long a stretch in the city,
I’m entranced by the retiring sun’s glow, an endless glistening sea,
and the steady shimmying of the waves to the gentle beat of a day,
when I trekked to all five towns,
and now contemplate this historic port town,
flanked by towering stone forts and home to a church rebuilt in 1494.
Bright red, my face has been too intimate with the ardent sun.
My tryst with the wind has left my hair tousled.
Climbing to the outlook has left me breathless.
Energized and satiated, I want to stay in Italy’s clutches a bit longer.
When in Italy
Feel beautiful in Rome.
Grab a bike and get happy in Ferrara,
the planned Renaissance city
where people travel by cycle
‘round ancient walls and along the Po.
Retrace Joyce’s steps in Trieste,
and feel the splash of the Adriatic’s far north reach.
Work hard in Milan
where serious Italians operate on Swiss time.
Greet my cousins in Teramo
where hills shrouded in gold
harbor lambs and mushrooms.
Get mystic in Ravenna
where East meets West
and Byzantine mosaics adorn
centuries’ old cathedrals.
Uncover Italy’s true masterpieces in Positano—
sea and sky and rock,
the big hole in the mountain
that resembles, well, anatomy,
and then indulge in heaping
plates of spaghetti con vongole.
Pledge to stay forever and never go back.
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All poems on this post: © Amy Barone
Published with the permission of Amy Barone