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.