John Claude Smith

John Claude Smith

Our Fiery Italian Roots

The sack of potatoes you heard crash
In the bathroom was your father
The grandfather I never met
His heart pills were just out of reach
The days after were spent lamenting
To the heavens the loss of
A good, god-fearing man
Who spent time brewing raw liquor
And hanging out with known gangsters
You married the same year
Perhaps: not wanting to be without a man
Perhaps: it was true love
Perhaps: if this were true
You would not have stabbed him six times
One for every year of marriage
And lost the two brothers I’ve never met
But I speculate that there was abuse
Something to justify your fiery Italian roots
And the simmering beast that lounges in my heart
My loins, my blood.
Ti voglio bene, mamma*

*I love you, Mom.  

John Claude Smith has had four chapbooks, two collections, and one novel published. The novel, Riding the Centipede, was a Bram Stoker Award finalist. His second novel, The Wilderness Within, will be published by Trepidatio/JournalStone October 2017. His Italian connection comes from his mother’s side of the family as his great-grandparents came to America in the dawning days of the 1900s. Her maiden name was Caiazzo, which is also the name of a town in southern Italy.