di ANGELO ZEOLLA
Corre l’anno 2010
in the dark of night dotted up all stellata
ever essentially illuminated by smooth fire light
(gira un’aria che profuma
di spighe scroccate arrostite)
apro una peroni e me la verso
in un bicchierino di plastica
vicino a me ci sta una mia comare
non binary distant cousin zip solare
(let’s call her Sandra)
Skins up a spliff una solita sigaretta napoletana
all’improvviso all those souls
nella comitiva mista di sangue oriundo
statunitense anglo/italiano figli di decorata
gathered round start to
sound off the first lines to
(Ed è cosi che il cuore della serata ce se mette a rapi’)
throw your lighters in the sky rino gaetano r.i.p.!)
two cockney cadence talking geezas sucked up on sounds
of Grime start to deride
the evening’s sudden turn of event
and as the falò burns
una voce infondata nell’ombra
too timid to take part the general stylings
singing the words softly to themselves
interrupted beseeches such
hasty comportment appealing to the geezas’
because Bronx cheers right now aint in order
so let him just do them tipo paraphrasing
something Antonio De Curtis said while riding the intercity
and beg the question nel esclamare:
MA ‘STO PIACERE GUAGLIU’ CE LO VOLETE FA’ O NO?
Corre l’anno duemila dieci sotto ferragosto (dal laghetto di Decorata) nel molisannio, was a piece that was buried in the inner recesses of my mind’s eye for years: that is of the scenes, customs, and actions that would take place in August between the start of Ferragosto on 15 August to la festa della Madonna di Decorata( detto la Madonna dell’Abbondanza) on 23 August, nella frazione di Decorata, among the various youth that would find themselves in the town; many oriundi whose folks emigrated to il settentrione, others whose folks immigrated all’estero, to Anglophone countries in North America (USA Canada), those whose parents immigrated to the german speaking cantons of Switzerland as well as to cities in Germany, and many whose folks immigrated to the Spanish speaking countries Latin America and either came to visit (or repatriate) from Argentina or Venezuela.
The entire area referred to colloquilally as Il Sannio, in August durante la stagione was a swollen cacophonous multicultural linguistic multiplicity of sorts accompanied by a soundtrack of progressive house, pino daniele, british pop and even hiphop from the States( New York and Napoli in particular) and la musica leggera italiana, salsa,bachata and cumbia, that complimented this amalgamation of various codes that were switched according to the person being addressed with a fluidity I, over the years, never get tired of seeing, and hearing unfold, interactions that could play out harmoniously with a genuine love fraterno, or even in a type of conflict ranging from the mundane fraintesa or something even more abrasive that could mess up a type of vibe that really everyone wanted to be festive and carefree quando si stava sotto ferragosto.
Generally speaking, there were various sagre e feste happening all throughout il Sannio, and over my years visiting la zona, by way of the Bronx, with all that was going on, word would come to me from my good friend and distant cousin, Pasquale who would bounce back and forth between England and Campania, with his folks at certain times of the year. Patsy was always the type of geeza that would organize a falò out by il lagehetto di Decorata over nel bosco.
Heads would organize and procure cases of Peroni, and i decoratesi who lived in the zona along with some their oriundi cousins who were on visit, would go and swipe some stalks of corn form whatever campo they would find in growing, and then we’d make the fire light!!!! Word that something was being organized nel boschetto di Decorata, would spread and soon various other people who had heard would show up, and add to the already swelling of those gathered round, drinking beer, smoking spliffs, and waiting for those spighe arrostite to come off il fuoco.
In quel frattempo, with all these different heads gathered around, l’italianità that was flowing in the air would burst out in song and a chorus would strike up, most times than not, the usual Rino Gaetano song especially “Gianna” a popular one with the shortys and soon even the quietest head, ragazzo o ragazza was singing to where the echoes could be heard in the deep of the infinito stellato that was the sky above dotted with stars.
As usual though, as I mentioned previous about a fraintesa that could mess up the vibe of the night: There is always that bunch of dudes who want to try to flex and dictate in what direction the night should go, and because a chorus to the tune of Gianna isn’t what they are really feeling to hear in quel momento, (usually the types that want to hear a tune they’re used to hearing in Enfield out in North London with their mates and such garage or drum and bass or drill) but in the end, if the crowd is with what is happening, boos and fischi really won’t do much to deter the energy—which I can recall happening a few times over the years between 1995 to 2011, and my perspective, being on different sides of that divide as the years went forward, and my general emotion evolving with my sense of italianità which changed along with my progression in relearning l’italiano (and in turn il dialetto) that I had lost in having to conform to an idea of having to be anglofone in order to truly be statunitense which is problematic considering the linguistic diversity that has always existed in what is the City of New York from the time when the Dutch had set up New Amsterdam in lower Manhattan.
And so too could the same be said about Italia and il meridione.
Identity is not fixed, but always in flux like the moment, below, described in verse.
(In copertina: illustrazione di Massimo Carulli)