a.d. winans | the old italians of aquatic park 1 & 2

Old Italian playing Bocce Ball, Aquatic Park, San Francisco, 2002 | Photo by A.D. Winans


the old Italians of Aquatic Park are dying or dead
they spend their time playing bocce ball
lady death striking them down like bowling pins
the old men of Aquatic Park are steeped in tradition
dark skinned dressed in sport shirts and baggy slacks
looking like bit actors in an old movie
dancing the last waltz on the deck of the Titanic

the old men of Aquatic Park
sit on hard wooden benches
their eyes moving left, right
front, center as if at a tennis match
pause to feed the pigeons
use their hands like cutting knives
to separate the crust from the bread
which they toss into the air
like rice at an Italian wedding
rising to brush the crumbs from their pants
one with a suit vest and tie
pulls at the gold chain
holding his pocket watch
tucked securely next to his heart

the old men of Aquatic Park
have the smell of garlic and pasta
embedded in their skin
Italy beating in their hearts

the old men of Aquatic Park
are dying off with grace and dignity
and a love for the old ways

there is something said about being Americanize
there is something sad about growing old
the bocce ball rolls slowly along the grass lawn
comes to rest like a hearse
parked next to an open grave
funerals wait on them
flowers scattered like empty promises
the mourners growing fewer in number
their ranks depleted
file slowly into their cars
disappear into the shadows
of late afternoon monotony

The Old Italians Of Aquatic Park – 2

bocce ball will resume in the morning
there are pigeons to be fed
wine to drink stories to tell
the thirst for life masked
in the face of death.

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