Gifts From Crows – Poem #103

Dim December’s light
breaking dawn of Winter’s night
reveals a naked frozen bough
hosting the chorus of crows

rousing us to a morning
thick in ice
where nothing flows
save time alone

leaving tiny gifts
in the feeder cleared of nuts;
shiny things;
an earring, a hinge, a polished rock

while reminding
they are not to blame
for the footprints
‘round our eyes.

Rowdy crows;
messengers of Apollo
playing in the wind
cornering a red tail hawk


Everyone likes the cat fight!


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St. Joseph – Patron Saint of Real Estate Agents

Available on Amazon!

It’s really nice to be of Italian heritage.  I mean, we can’t ALL be Italian!  If I wasn’t Italian I would probably choose to be Irish; or Greek.  Tough choice.

Growing up Italian means growing up in a culture filled with rules and lots of ideas which might be deemed superstitious nonsense.    One of the rules was that you never told Grandma or Aunt Philomena that her ideas were superstitious nonsense.  Never.

Some of them are pretty quaint.

The “evil eye” for example.  Mal Occhio.

Its the look one person gives to another when they are jealous or envious.  According to Grandma it is the way to put a curse on others to cause them misfortune or physical pain. Head aches.  Diarrhea.   🙂

Grandma said it was the reason one never spoke about the family’s business with outsiders and never ostentatiously displayed wealth.  It might cause neighbors to be jealous and give you the mal occhio.  It never occurred to her that Uncle Bruno might get envious and give another family member mal occhio.

for your neck to protect you

In any case, one could protect against mal occhio by wearing un corno – the horn – around one’s neck.  Resembling a chili pepper un corno was usually available in red coral, gold or silver and represented an animal horn.  It was used to ward off evil spirits that mal occhio might bring upon you from a jealous neighbor.  The horn of course once represented the Moon Goddess and was at one time sacred.

for your new car!

It was a tradition in my neighborhood that when one bought a new car, especially a nice one, your family always got you un corne to hang from you rear view mirror.  A big corne.  After all, a new car would lead your neighbors to think you were doing well and bring the mal occhio down upon you and your new vehicle.

My maternal grandfather had a giant pair of real horns from a Spanish bull hanging in his Latticini Freschi dairy store to protect us against mal occhio!  They even had blood painted on the tips.

True observant Catholics were not exempt from such beliefs and there existed a rich mixture of religion and superstition among the old time immigrants.

For example, there is a patron saint for just about everything and every condition  affecting mankind.  For example if you are having trouble with your eyes or blind, you pray to St. Lucy.  Why?  To intercede for you.  It might also be that “Luc” is Latin for “light.”

St Lucy was martyred during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian and, according to legend, had her eyes put out before her execution.  The legend of Lucy having her eyes put out does not appear in records until the 15th century – some 1,200 years after her martyrdom.  At that time it was further noted that when she was being prepared for burial her eyes had been miraculously restored.  🙂

St. Lucy

Lucy is often depicted in art as a young woman holding a palm representing martyrdom in  one hand and two eyes in the other.  Or she is represented by a plate on which are two eyes.  Seems a bit pagan if you ask me.

Lucy is the patron saint of Syracuse in Sicily and Perugia on the mainland; her feast is celebrated on December 13.  She is also the patron saint of stain glass workers, peasants, glaziers, salesmen and……writers.  She is invoked against hemorrahge, dysentery, diseases of the eye, and throat infections according to Wiki.

Now why pray to a saint to “intercede” on your behalf when you can pray directly to Jesus?  Well in the Italy of 1900 and centuries before a peasant requesting ANY favor needed a “racomandato,” a recommendation from a”prominenti,” a person of influence to carry his request to the person who could actually grant the request.  One needed friends in high places.   It fits right in with the general belief in the intercession of saints.

St. Christopher was the patron saint of travelers, drivers and surfers!  St. Damian of doctors and barbers.  St. John Bosco was patron of printers and publishers.  St. Thomas More of statesmen, lawyers and court clerks.

St. Dymphna was one you prayed to for relief from sleepwalking and mental illness.   St. Kentigern, patron saint of Glasgow for relief from bullies and verbal abuse.

And St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.

See Wiki for the complete list.   🙂,_illness,_and_dangers

Which brings us to St. Joseph, earthly father of Jesus, a carpenter and family man and how he has recently become the patron saint of real estate agents.  Rumor had it that he could work “miracles” with wood.   Now, real estate agents, psychics, religious artifact stores, the Home Depot and eBay are all in on the act.

Having difficulty selling your home?  Bury a statue of St. Joseph on the property!

The practice of burying a plastic St. Joseph to help speed the sale of a home dates at least to 1984 in the U.S.A. In 1990 it seemingly became all the rage, with realtors buying plastic saints’ statues by the gross. The standard practice calls for the statue to be dug up once the property has sold and placed on the grateful seller’s mantle or in another place of honor. Some, however, who have trouble remembering where they interred their statues prefer to leave the buried saints where they’ve been placed to help protect the properties for the new owners. (Which may not work all that well — some believe leaving the statue underground will cause the land to continue changing hands.)

But why Joseph, you ask? Why not another saint — say, St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes?

Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, is the patron saint of home and family in the Roman Catholicism.  According to one of the hottest new customs, the statues are buried upside down and facing the road in front of a house for sale.

“Actually, different realtors quote different placements of the statue:

• Upside down, near the ‘For Sale’ sign in the front yard. (An upside down St. Joseph is said to work extra hard to get out of the ground and onto someone’s mantle.)
• Right side up.
• In the rear yard, possibly in a flower bed.
• Lying on its back and pointing towards the house “like an arrow.
• Three feet from the rear of the house.
• Facing the house.
• Facing away from the house. (One who tried this reported the house across the street sold, and it hadn’t even been up for sale.)
• Exactly 12 inches deep. ”

The custom of burying St. Joseph has become so widespread that some religious goods stores even offer a Home Sale Kit, which includes a plastic statue, a prayer card, and an introduction to the St. Joseph home sale practice.

Prudent realtors also recommend the following advice in addition to burying Joe:

“For this practice to be fully effective, the seller must, of course, first do such practical yet all important chores as completing all necessary fix-up, properly staging the home and finally, adjusting the price so as to exactly reflect market value.”    Right.

Now as a wise old 21st century man I’m not nearly gullible enough to be taken in by such obvious superstition.  Grandma maybe; but not I.

On the other hand there is a tale about one home seller who planted St. Joseph in his front yard.  When the house didn’t sell, he moved St. Joseph to the rear, then the side, turned it upside down then thoroughly disgusted dug up the plastic and threw it in the garbage.

A week later he read in the newspaper that the town dump had been sold.

“Believe it or not!”


P.S – To my scientist brother-in-law and his wife trying to sell their home in the wild southwest so he can come back here to Florida and be close to the rest of the family I ask –

“What can it hurt?



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The Library – Poem #102

Gone 14 years today.

I went to our “library” room today
paneled in English walnut
furnished with a leather sofa
where one can sit while visiting the ashes.

A quiet space within
an already quiet space
a space of quiet speaking
with the loved one in the box
behind the glass.

Not everyone can visit their
final resting place  while still alive
to sit and contemplate.
Many would rather not
but she is here and my name
is already on the door.

Our faces look out at passers by
from a little pewter frame
as we were when we were young.
We never knew the little picture
in the carnival photo booth would be
the proof of our existence.
She is smiling as the boy I was
looks back at me.

Our boxes will rest together
in our little space behind the glass
until the great marble building
is reduced to rubble and
no one living remembers us.
Our library will be a quiet space
for she and me as we stay
together for eternity

I’ve often thought everyone dies twice
once when we leave our bodies
and fly off into infinity
and once when our name is spoken
for the last time.

Before exiting to the sun
I leave a note.
I always do.

“Wait here for me JoAnn.
I will join you in the blink of an eye.”


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Passing Time – Poem #101


Is this my time or not?

Time flows into a man
makes its home there
then flows away ; the man remains
but his time has passed.

There was a time when the world was mine
and you were mine
and all would last tomorrow and tomorrow
and  I was at my height; then it passed

The man still thinks
breathes and cries
but the time that belonged to him
has moved away.

There is no greater burden for a man
than to live
in a time
which is not his own

for time never loves
the children of the past;
everything flows swiftly and noiselessly
till no time remains.

Just yesterday
you were so sure of yourself;
and now another time has come
as options fade to become commands.

A jolly fiddle or mournful trumpet
plays the tune of life
announcing for some their time has come
and for others, “Your time has passed.”


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1929 – Poem #100

For Poppa who never flew; but his children did.

I saw “Wings” with my father
when I was young; Best Picture of ‘29
like him, splendidly silent
in a world of black and white

He was 12 in ‘29;
anointed was he
with Caesar’s falling sickness
which would take away his dream

yet on the day he heard the wind,
the engine’s roar he knew was coming,
from sickbed to outside he ran, looking up
standing in the shadow

mouth agape in silent awe
as the great Graf Zeppelin
serenely passed directly over him;
knowing his world could never be the same.


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Marathon – Poem #99

Today is the 5th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.   Martin Richard, just 8 years old was killed in the attack.

Martin Richard, 8 was killed in the bombing at the Boston Marathon while watching runners cross the finish line with his family. Photocredit: facebook

“No more hurting people”
A little prince wise beyond his years
eyes filled with promise
of great deeds to come.

Greeting the victors
adding his accolades
Athens triumphant
a laurel wreath
crowning Pheidippides.

Amongst the multitude in the agora
the shadow of death
stunted specters
souls without hope, their darkness falling
over a prince of hopes and dreams

Wails from the multitude
the wise princely eyes
covered with coins
payment to Charon
for the journey ‘cross the Styx.

And the multitude wept
as the Oracles screamed
and spoke in babble;
fists shaken at heaven
asking why, while Zeus was silent

And Zeus answered
“Shake not your fists at heaven asking why
for some things you cannot know;
take comfort that you are not alone.
After all, did not the gods abandon even mighty Troy?”


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Mother and Son – Poem #98

For Michael Carmine who might have been 43 on Tuesday and his mom, JoAnn Marie-Louise, gone 14 years on Thursday.

She sits beneath a massive oak
in the Garden of Noble Women
Garden of the Promise
for those who have borne the burden
yet never heard the word.

He never walked.
He never fed himself
He never saw the light
or heard a sound.
He never said the Word.

And when he died she buried him amidst her tears
in the Lands of the Lord Calvert
on the road to Padonia.
Now she sits in the quiet of a Summer’s day
waiting for the Promise to be fulfilled.

On the horizon
a kite and a little boy
running o’er the meadow
sun lit mop top hair
dancing in the breeze

part running, part falling toward her
little fingers of his left hand
leading the way
reaching for her
running like little boys run flying a kite.

And as she rises
on young legs
she moves toward him and sees the face of God
the same face, now perfect in His image.

And from his laughing face she hears the Word
the Word God promised
to those who bore the burden
yet never heard the Word.

“Mommy! Mommy!!”



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