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Bersaglieri, 1964

No, it’s correre. Co-RAIR-ay: superiors etched that into me.
Recruiting officers, trained to sniff out endurance
like electrodes on a mousewheel, staked our soccer games nightly.
Nowadays they prop up Borroni during intermission,

motorized wheelchair & black vaira beaming
from the Olimpico videoboard. I hope they pay that old snake.
He used to be our workhorse, now he’s a walking—excuse my
word choice—advertisement for the Bersaglieri.

We were marksmen, but not all sharp shooters, if you follow.
One night we stole a key to the Royal Army’s wine cellar
where spirits colored sunlit maize matched the pasta
nothing like this piss-stained poison she’s got me sipping.

Louisa, what was Johnny’s last name, with the big teeth
& the wife from the Venetian Ghetto who tripped & fell all the time?
Andriani! Best knife fighter in Europe. Three thugs at once
that night with the wine, hospitalized. It’s…what’s the word?

apropos—that La Marmora designed us to be skirmishers.
That same night, half of 1st battalion took a train to Naples, decorated
by that Torinese turncoat’s namesake, & found themselves
stoned from Riserva, suspected in the deaths of two civilians.

Next morning their commander, Marco, silver-tongued
& face guttered from swallowing more snuff than most men chew
in a lifetime, was tasked with burying the incident.
Instead he launched a 20-inch machete at their lined-up heads.

Me? I rode in a shrouded APC most nights. Italy imported
M113’s long before the damn Asians dubbed them “Green Dragons.”
I surveyed borders, studied demolition; it was peacetime,
& the military gets mundane without objectives metalizing the air.

When on leave I bicycled to Positano, sedated by cigars
& the view; tasted cafe eel or street vendor sarda, entranced
by torn movie poster collages on the sides of buildings
Prima della Rivoluzione
, Sordi’s inverted eyeball in Il Boom.

Aboard a private diving vessel I met a scout from 12th battalion
who informed me things went sour, the boys wound up in jail.
The captain’s blonde daughter piloted a yellow kite above the deck,
its whirling tail backgrounded by seawalls – a city folded into a mountain.

I traded my champagne for the kite, called the girl my little Turrita.
She revealed her age: 15, then asked me why I wore
double-flamed stars patched into my collar. “Eternal Rome,” I said.
After four years & a wedding cruise to Sicily, she became your mother.

Nahua

a mere blink could save us
the cattleman’s warm whisper
ignites a wind
that perforates the skull
with frost

sidereal records show
we’ve drawn paths through mountains
for 14 centuries
like fire ants hoisting rock & food
over ice

from a helicopter’s view
leafless sycamores
dot shadows over snow
& light melts onto
this whole white earth

to be stored in ether
until green earth stumbles forth
like a newborn calf
rendering daytime
useful once more

Birds of Erin Arbor

At crest of morning the hawk & sparrow
that sparred with songs last evening
resume their dialogue, more distant now, nearer
to the lake at Erin Arbor & just audible
above the swoon of traffic.
Nature’s unmade bedding
ancient pillow of the sun & blue duvet of sky

hover above the soundscape, filtering noise
into harmless rattles of windchimes
that remind me there can be no danger at this hour.
An elderly neighbor’s caregiver
cradles her head through a window
to plead for silence, tinged with anxiety;
her eyes expand in crestfallen fascination
toward the presumed home of the birds,
as if scanning heaven for bolides.

The smaller bird answers in quick flutters,
like a distorted pennywhistle echoed through
a stomach full of worms; the bird of prey’s call
is singular & scattered—blunt slabs of bleating
overtones, starbursts of white noise…
Their stuttering starts & stops compose a two-day concert
of earth & sky that mimics
Stravinsky’s Glorification of the chosen one.

At close of evening, February settles in
for the longest hibernation of any month,
farmers along the Alafia River—hacksaws in hand
collect the season’s last wood for bonfires,
& the two birds separate, weary from shrieking.
The hawk flies farther north, searching for field mice;
the sparrow falls back to a fragile branch
that holds its nest like a cupped hand.

Innovation And A Solid Business Model Could Make Latitude 360 Inc. (LATX) The Next PLAY or CBRL

Originally appeared on Tomorrow’s Blue Chips

While the combination of luxury dining and entertainment may not be a brand new concept, one of the fastest-growing names in the industry, Latitude 360 (LATX), continues to employ new ideas, finding ways to expand its business through innovation and smart planning. By refusing to conform to a single type of customer experience, Latitude 360 defies the odds and offers a wide array of diversions such as bowling, a comedy club, cigar lounge, sports theater, interactive games, and even a cinegrille where restaurant-goers can take in a film. This unique mash-up of 21st century entertainment with upscale dining should allow LATX to capitalize on a primarily untapped market in which the customer base craves new experiences beyond the run-of-the-mill restaurants or clubs.

Latitude 360 trades at a bargain price of 1.10 per share with a market cap of over 137M. Investors should take notice of the strides LATX has made in just the last few months. The Company has three grand openings scheduled over the next several months in the hot markets of New York, Massachusetts, and Minneapolis, with build-out costs funded by the commercial developers behind each respective construction site. The new Massachusetts location will be housed in the Kingston Collection, which is a 900,000 square foot mall with plenty of foot traffic, marking the Companys third mall-based 360 experience.

LATX is not the only proof that the upscale dining and entertainment experience is on the rise. The recent IPO success of Dave & Busters Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAY), which now trades at a solid 22.06 with a market cap of 862M, demonstrated that this up-and-coming market is here to stay. Dave & Busters refined a model developed by Chuck E Cheese, flipping it on its head by raising the target age for its customer base and shifting toward a more upscale dining and gaming experience that includes parties, events, sports, and gaming that appeals to all ages.

In terms of investment option viability, LATX also compares favorably to Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE), trading at 48.82. While CAKE may appear to be the safe choice since it took the upscale dining industry by storm several years ago, invading numerous shopping malls with its diverse menu and unique setting, the company has recently exhibited downward trends. This is largely because a slew of imitators flattened out its share of the market, while its customer base continues to gravitate toward the more rounded dining and entertainment experiences of establishments offered by companies such as LATX and PLAY.

While CAKE has faltered recently, another company that combines a signature style of dining with other novelties has found some recent success. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) felt a boost to its trading price in recent weeks and now sits at 119.58. With an in-house store in every restaurant location that sells everything from rocking chairs to country music, CBRL has mastered a particular brand of style and substance that continues to set it apart from every other competitor out there, and could serve as a business model in those areas for LATX. By participating in wholesome American endeavors like sponsoring a military retreat in Nashville and holding special events to honor veterans, CBRL succeeds by finding ways to remain appealing to its tried and true customer base.

The financial success of a handful of other companies in the dining industry could serve as a model for LATX. Chuys Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:CHUY) qualifies as one of these companies. Shooting up quickly by 6% last session, the Tex-Mex restaurant chain demonstrates a sense of individuality, as each of its locations strives to be different from the next. Also, Kona Grill Inc. (NASDAQ:KONA) has seen a steep upward trend recently by staying true to its foundations, framing itself almost as an upscale steak grill, but serving primarily fish and sushi instead. Ruby Tuesday Inc.(NYSE:RT) is another company ranked highly over the last couple of months. It rose over 15% in the course of less than two weeks in October and continues to perform well – further proof that the industry outlook for LATX right now is more than promising.

A number of stylish restaurant chains are performing well and the industry trend is moving toward the type of multi-faceted experience offered by similar companies like PLAY and CBRL. Therefore Latitude 360s position as a growing competitor in this field bodes well for investors looking to make a low-risk commitment in this market. With an upside as promising as some of these upscale dining veterans, LATX exhibits class, innovation, and a solid business model that cannot be ignored.

The King’s Hospitality

The thrill begets the wisdom: discovering the I of infinitesimal
or the weight of a brain actinic from sun-gazing, altered
by light & “all the body requires…” Here’s the human race
adopting photosynthesis! My newfound hate for space
developed like a negative – fading in from nothing
while driving the crosstown, creating crossword puzzles
in my head. Just the hints & not the spaces, please…
A badger’s favorite beat writer. She’s still wearing snippets
of yesterday’s conversation:
“Should I cut them off?”
“Yes, just go into the room and close the door.”

I’m tired of idle noises & of Christmas, which forces us to hold
a candle to the world like an ear to the ground. Every year
my mother reinvents the wheel in the form of a wreath
to be stored in the attic next to spare tires & a book
espousing pseudo-scientific theories on the golden ratio’s
relation to the human genome.

Did I tell her I get anxiety
about the sheer number of objects in the world? A glass
that holds a votive wrapped in blue fabric tied by a ribbon
from which a faux-metal oval emblem hangs, proclaiming
“It’s a boy!” – & all that occupies only two square inches
of space.

At intervals along that tiny thread of space,
between the promise of a son & his untimely appearance,
we illustrated Humpty Dumpty as an anthropomorphic egg
& placed an angel above the Christmas tree as if the Magi
followed Gabriel & not a flickering star. Oh to be pregnant
& asking. Oh to be pregnant & ass-kicked out of an inn
& into an outhouse of asses kicking. Surrounded by the hay
& heavy breathing, was there ever a self-conscious thought
in Mary’s mind about the hospitality of Kings?

We wake to be ready for death, weathered coffee mug in hand
(“World’s Greatest om”), reading the digital obituaries:
“…his final poem, entitled ‘This Obituary,’ was composed
between two cortisone injections”; & an article that claims
the white glow of a ketamine orb – its long tendrils
slowly gyrating like some amorphous Vishnu – is just a visual
manifestation of our own brains.
With each successive thought,
the neocortex grows, & along that same curved space,
the universe (which itself is just a brain) continues to expand.

Even laying down, glaring at the sun with arms crossed
over a scepter…all that energy has to go somewhere.

Claudia Cardinale

If I could undress my fiance’s shadow with my eyes
I might be followed to the altar of a blank white gazebo
by Claudia Cardinale, both of us donning dark Versace sunglasses
& eau de toilette, to scoff at the arrival of my sun-dyed wife
chain-smoking down the aisle, rolling her eyes at my brother
who scrutinizes each line I recite that begins with
“I,” & questions a vow that mentions her favorite bird,
the cuckoo.

“Did Archaics really use the word ‘cuckold’ because the husband’s
cock became too old to be enjoyed?”

My mirror & the pastor
think I’m not quite 33, but I’ve begun to abandon art,
perhaps too soon, instituting video games and baseball
as my own private (Florida) version of Duchamp’s chess retirement,
endeavors that admittedly lack his colorful reflections
on the relationship between the blacks & whites shared
by the breast & the board.

Now wedding bells are lurching
like a sunken barge across the rolling Shenandoah
(myth of its serpentine head debunked by satellites)
to land at a reception hall near Jonestown, Mississippi
where bouquets & conga lines will herald lost pets,
in-laws I’ll decanonize in conversations,
& my ashes, made immortal through the installation
of a swimming pool, the remodeling of a bathroom.

Carry me over the threshold, Claudia…on the birthday I share
with your Fellini, the day we both felt like frauds – like dogs
who have their day & hate it too, misleading our friends
to think we had conceived the entire picture. Claudia, pisscatcher,
Mary of Magdalene would have yelled your name
on the cross, once for each ambiguous fruit Adam consumed
to keep you clothed, once more for every man birthed from your ribs
who took a wife, only to seek you in her shadow.

“Code Blue on Four North”

The custodian, this Brooklyn woman who called me “The Mayor,”
replaced some pillowcases, complaining how they’d fold up cheap,
like plastic. Everything in sight was white, electric, or both.
Cold wires clung to my wrist, hanging like a cat o’ nine tails
as I tried to close the bathroom door. That week my frail roommate
had subsisted from three Jellos and half a turkey sandwich.
No family visited; no friends.

He came in cold, and in shock,
with blood pressure 75 over 40, his left eye
bleeding. Doctors and floor techs kept knocking on the open door,
which I considered an odd gesture, but only odd gestures
adorned this place – young women wore masks, military men sobbed –
all brought on by the natural decay of things, or just by
stainless steel pricking skin.

On Thursday my roommate stopped breathing.
Three nurses sailed around him, gripping medications, shoving
my bed to a corner. I slumped in an armchair, fist to brow,
imagining his body was a cauldron. When I’m asked if
a defibrillator sparked his pulse back, bits of films or dreams
sometimes confiscate the memory – back then, midazolam
dripped between my senses like a primer.

But I remember
why the janitor snuck in. She sought a dark button, tracing
fingers over the wall behind his bed, as if translating
braille into this booming voice: “Code Blue on Four North”. Ten or twelve
more nurses entered, each one shuffling quicker than the last…

Time passes here in truest form, divided into fractions;
baseball games on TV, or fifteen minutes admiring
a pretty face…til sleep befriends us for a half an hour…
When your sum of moments equals less than zero, progress feels
a bit entropic: like gathering shards from a busted glass
rather than analyzing fine points on a Seurat canvas.

After his revival, my roommate transferred to a new floor-
maybe ICU – then seemed to disappear. At 6AM,
a surgeon and the morning nurse appeared in partial shadows
with no recollection of the man.

My peritonitis
began to subside, but not easily. Two uneven weeks
of antibiotics, picc lines, blood transfusions – of fighting
fevers while an unsuspected opiate addiction loomed.
No one could tell me if the roommate lived, but the janitor,
with arched eyebrows, admitted that she “always wanted to press
that damn blue button…”

Affirmation echoed into pure rush.
Her announcement from a pushed button had conjured an Event
greater than its subject’s life: “Code Blue on Four North” – a floor where
no one dies, no one is born, and everything smells like rubber.

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