Many of these poems will be of the city of Schenectady from early 1900 to the present.


Thursday, March 3, 2011



Mothers in our neighborhood smoke
cigarettes and wear red Indian kerchiefs on
their forehead to keep sweat from falling
onto their faces - mothers all wear tube
tops - stuff toilet paper inside to make them
look big - send their children to the grocery
store, the drugstore where Mr. Ferro gives tiny
brown bags filled with little bottles of pills.

Mother looks worried when she runs out
of her little orange pills. She would say,
“run, I need my pills, it’s the only thing
that keeps me alive.”

So I grab two one dollar bills she has in
her hand- dash down Avenue A - never
thought about the cracks, or breaking
mother’s back – now I am running as fast
as little legs carry me, clenching two one
dollar bills, so tightly, my nails dig deep
into my palm – all I had to do was drop
two dollars, I knew the window sill was

On a day when I ran to Ferro’s Pharmacy
my mind wasn’t on cracks but on mother
dead on our kitchen floor – because I walked
too slow, or worried about cracks.

Up the steps I climb reaching the door to the
pharmacy – I see Mr. Ferro – he smiles - takes
two dollars and hands me this little brown bag
folded perfectly at the top.

My steps are quick as I leave the drugstore.
Running down four cement steps, across Mason
Street straight down Avenue A. I run –
all the way home hoping mother would not
be stretched out on our kitchen floor.

She isn’t on the floor. She is staring out the
kitchen window looking out toward Seneca
Street - we live on a corner lot in a city called
Schenectady where the General Electric Company
not only made people happy with so many jobs, but
made the world happy when GE was known
as the company which Lights the World.

Perhaps mother was nervous - she kept
dragging on her chesterfield cigarette and
never did look at me, out of breath, trying
not to stumble on uneven sidewalks, sidewalks
where weeds would grow between each slab
of cement.

Our family counted pennies on the window
ledge for a loaf of American Bread, pennies,
and if we were lucky a dime or nickel
was mixed into the clutter of change, enough
for a popsicle, or fudgical.

We took walks together too – mother
kept saying, “Step on a crack break your mother’s
back.” I never stopped staring at the blocks of
cement with the name, “Visco and Sons,” printed
on each slab of stone.

Mother sent me across the street to Central
Market, for a can of spam, oh, how could she
eat spam? It was bad enough she did make me
like White Tuna from the Sea, in that special
can of “Tuna of the Sea.” Mother handed me
money then stared once more from our kitchen
window toward a Central Market, only kitty
corner from the side of our house – directly
across from the alley way. I knew when she
stared from the window she was thinking about
Mrs. Moon – her daughter was killed near the
market, by some driver – ran right over her. . .

So, I left the house, walked across a parking
lot, scuffing cinders as I dragged my feet, lifting
up dirt which would cling to white ankle socks
and twist and turn the coins in my clenched
fist. Spam was cheap.
Mother never made mistakes when it came to
how much money she handed me, and I never
did take that extra dime for a comic book.
Eventually, mother would hand me a dime to
bring to school, use during lunch time at the
penny candy store, where the crossing guard
made sure all the cars stopped on Van Vranken

It was the highlight of my day, carrying my
own brown paper bag filled with small round
Malted Milk Balls, two for one cent. “Cozy Corner”
was filled with kids buying candy. I can still
see the light wooden floors, and a different
smell inside the store – one I never smelled
anywhere else. The walls were bare, and this
little old man stood behind the glass counter
with the patients of a saint, that’s what mother
told me, as he took pennies and change from
a child’s hand.

Before crossing a busy road, a lady in a
mans cop clothing, white gloves, black boots -
told us when to cross. The only reason why
mother let me cross the street and collect
penny candy like all the kids in our neighborhood.

Before entering the big market I turned and
noticed Mother was still standing at the window,
smoking her cigarette - I wondered if she was
thinking about me crossing the street? Or about
people stealing children – enticing little girls into
their car with candy? I opened the door.

Central Market, a bigger grocery store – giant
compared to Charlie’s three doors down Avenue A
where slabs of cement lifted higher in spots,
and lower in others. I had to worry about
mother’s back crossing Charlie’s cement blocks.

Finally I reach the house, climb the stairs holding
a larger brown paper bag, and making sure I
held the railing as I climbed the old wooden
stairs – you see, Daddy told me most accidents
happened in the home, and Daddy was always

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved @2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011



The streets - a spectacle
of beauty – icicles hung from
lampposts magnifying
sheets of frozen water on

While - women complained
how cold it was –
inside one room - a
tenement, filled with

While - women complained
of noise outside, it was the
middle of the night; men
gathered around a pail
of fire - like bums

Men - gathered inside a
Saloon, inside a back –
room - more men people
gathered there – or around
a corner at a butcher shop
both had a back – door.

Men – those who worked -
delivered coal, complained
when they were on strike,
while women used brown
sugar and the price of
steak cheaper than butter -

Stockade – streets filled
by people from their towns,
countries, divided by streets
Moreover, thousands moved in
yet, how many – no one
really knew.

War, men from other countries
felt obligated to fight, to stand
tall for the new country called
home – while others never did
become American.
War, war in the streets,
in alley ways in bar rooms
on corners, but not far away
the rich played.

Stockade, its streets with
Saloons, bakeries, grocery
stores and men directing
a horse and carriage yelling
“Rags, rags.”

Children in knickers run –
upset the horse, dash to
find fruit, a fruit man and
his horse and carriage
tumbled on cobblestone –

A stockade, where Indians
once fought – still brings
war to immigrants claiming
space on city streets.

Nancy Duci Denofio
@2011 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 10, 2011



Did you walk with me
on these streets
where cars were once
cluttered, where men
in uniforms and white
gloves - stopped us?

Look, there was no over-pass
for trains or people hiding
from the rain - kissing.

Remember when we would
cuddle so close together
just past the over-pass
as you parked your Cutlass
behind the State Theatre?
Oh, I know you remember…

Yes – before the over-pass
did men and women our
age hold hands in front of
the Strand Movie House? –
They walked for hours to get
there but for what?

The lines weren’t for James
Bond, or for free candy if
you purchased tickets
earlier in the day, no – it was
for bugs. Bugs – the owner
of the Strand, made children
line up against a wall while

heads were checked, all
the immigrants, those who
couldn’t speak a word of
English, has to prove they
could sit in one of their
chairs with other children.

You see, the man, he
sprayed those children, made
sure they didn’t bring inside
one single bug from -
Ellis Island, or had any
sticking to their tattered
sweaters. Wonder what they
were sprayed with?

Wonder if you forgot those
I will never forget you?
You disappeared as if taken
by a dark shadow behind red
velvet curtains -
Did the man remove you?
Were you an immigrant from
the past?

I know you never had bugs
nor did they check you at the
State Theatre – we were
someones dream back then, but
or those hot nights – on Route 9

when we enjoyed Malta Drive-in
outside movies, in cars, yes -
your Cutlass and yes, bugs
did come through open windows
opened to let some air inside
your Cutlass - remember
the stick you used to drive the
car between bucket seats?

Bugs did fly around us, but
did it matter?

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Dancing in Sunlight

A fog lifts to expose
a morning sunrise,
she is as naked as the sea…
she twirls in circles,
her hair drapes along her
back and lifts up, away
from her shoulders with
a gentle – gust of wind.

As if she walked across
water, her legs lightly
touch sea shells, shells
caught between her toes
as her hands brush specs
of sand too near her eyes.

On her knee’s she digs
holes in sand to cover her
nude body, and stands,
small pieces of color shine
on her body like a burst
of sunshine.

The ocean spins her,
throws her to her left, then
backward – she lost her
resting place.

The morning moon lingers,
slowly evaporates, spilling
colors of orange, red, and
a hint of purple.

She dances on white foam,
at the waters edge - to bring
back treasures lost.

Sea gulls collect and clutter up
the shore, above scattered
mounds of seaweed, breathing.

She too dances over
litter strewn through seaweed,
but a rising tide will take
away her space, as her eyes
watch when birds disappear.

She continues to search for
lost treasures, but - sand has
fallen through her fingers…

Inside near her open window,
on a metal stand. a piece
of ice shrinks,
breaking the silence.

A clock, large enough to see,
a sink to wash, a tub
to bathe; with help, she
knows it’s Wednesday.

She hears the hiss of a
sprinkler, and two voices
laughing in the distance…

Her feet push, to keep her
rocker, rocking.

wraps around her face,
kissing her lips – blue eyes
shed tears, her white
hair glitters…. as if it were
water - on a beach, and
she hums, smiles -
resisting tomorrow. . .

She captures light, traps it
between her thin fingers, rubs
her face as if sand left precise
pebbles from the wind.

At noon, the smell of meat
loaf, instead of soiled sheets.
Her finger presses a button
when a red light flashes.

The thud of silverware
on plastic plates, a crumpled
napkin in her hand, forgetting
to wipe her face.

Nearby, a black crow lands
on the limb of a maple, drags
its limb downward.

She dances on the lawn
and the black crow flies.
The next Monday, birds
gathered to rest outside
her window ledge.

Monday, January 31, 2011



Pleaded on a phone
for a miracle –
long ago you held
your hands on my eyes
and I still see -

This time it was not
me who needed you
near a rest room
near a lobby
near the entrance
to intensive care

I cried out loud
begged you to
give her one more
year - only one
more year.

You – cured my eyes
you held me close
you told me, only me
what to believe –
showed me miracles
do happen

It made me think of
a lady on the wall –
half floating, yet
to me –
when I was destroying
my own life; or –
did they?

A lady on the wall,
she wasn't solid, she
seemed to float - it
was the first time she
let me know everything
would be fine.
I knew I had to

It is hard to give in,
to think we all have
our time and to believe
your life was at an end.

For a time I believed
my tears, prayers, all
unheard - for years -
unheard, but for years
I have believed,
you listened - then

The lady on the wall
may have saved me –
long ago.

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Friday, January 14, 2011



Grandmother had to be
dancing upstairs in her
kitchen - her radio blaring -
when her friends arrived -
all talking broken English -
my mother. downstairs in
a two family flat said,
"It's too much noise."
But, noise never stopped.

Father, he invested in a
bigger radio - more noise,
unlike Grandmother -
following the death of his
Father – Back then, when
a radio first came to be,
someone died – someone
Italian – tubes were removed
since it was a “new tradition”
to remove all the tubes
from a big radio in her
parlor – “Respect,” was why.

Father never listened
to the "War of Worlds."

On the day Father's Father
died, it had to be the
worst day of his life. . .

His Father laying in
their marriage bed; in Sicily
all beds slept in by husband
and wife were a marriage
bed –

Father saw his Father’s
head resting on a pillow
a pillow stitched by
Grandmother's hands
"I Love You," in Italian.
My Grandfather, his head resting
on this pillow - motioned for his
son, and whispered his last request.

"One more cup of water
before I die."

Grandmother at the door
to the front porch, paying
the milkman, a pison’ a
person called pison in
Sicily, was special – as close
to a relative as one could be.

On the front porch – I am
sure Grandmother was
talking, maybe laughing
when her son came running
down the steps –

Her son, still not shedding
tears – as he said, “Papa, he
is dead.”
My Father grabbed his
Mother's arm, pulled her up
the staircase – her pison’
followed, as she walked
down a hallway to their
bedroom – laying over his
body, she wept, she screamed,
she looked up to God, asking
why? No one could pull her

Father's youngest brother,
he sank to the floor as his body
leaned against a wall – tears in
his eyes watching the scene of

Father’s middle brother stood
near the doorway – staring I
guess, at his Papa, his Mama
as she touched his Papa.
A empty cup of water placed
on top of their bed stand, empty.

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Thursday, January 6, 2011


In Full View

With a wide smile you
knocked on my window -
stood still – standing on

You were - disturbed.

I turned to my left,
You step right -
In full view.

It was noon, a midday
sun above your head
as a bit of silver shined
you lifted your arm –

pointed at your head -
it was your right hand,
your finger on the trigger -

I startled you?
I suppose -
I never stopped smiling -
as beads of sweat poured
down your face -
your hand - began to shake

I closed the drapes.

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved
2002 - copyright

Friday, December 31, 2010



Bewildered by past lives
to search a pyramid,
monument of fear.

I fought, pleaded with
imagination, controlling
space – was this me
stretched out, adorned
in jewels, a face etched
in stone?

Isolated – a mist of blue
circles me – captures
familiarity as passing
years rapidly decrease
as time, a roadway to
our past.

In the stillness of dawn
a strange disc reflects
light, a star filled with
peacefulness sucked out
fear – godly figures, in
my field of vision.

No need to speak,
mingled in a thick haze –
commands made.

A calm in the dessert
of ice crystals, pointed
rocks – magnifying a
runway, a zone of
indestructible nature –
Blasted bellows of
bravery – wings clap into
shallow air; eyes speak,
rivers cry, mountains
dissolves, a soul dies –

The world changes - or,
is it a world at all?
A cave – a fissure cut
thru limestone by a
swirl of water, now

A woman stands alone,
preaching to a violet sky.
Enormous waves of energy
circulates, as blood –
brings a shiver in heat;
creeping closer.

Born thru light -
bodies as thin spindles
flowing, solid form - hands
wave, draw me closer to
strangers who cast a
respectful gaze.

As if Monet painted
lilies in their field, as if
rain changed a forest to
a spectacle of color.

“I kiss your hand,
although matrimony is
a trivial state, we do not
let it enter into our love
affair. “

You were chosen
for this voyage to learn
basic truths; wealth is
from soil, love is a
constant state of mind.

Those who were chosen
mortally – wounded by
earthly tricks. Yet here,
the courageous are the

Terrain of meadows
surround us, and no
hatefulness – our
energy is love, a land
filled with secret paths.
Soil, will not degrade,
nor will our sun harm
your skin - moisture
will not evaporate – no
need to compromise,
we all are living legends
of the past.

Your hospitals, insane
asylums, penitentiaries,
are filled; a result of
children brought into
your world, to swell.
Where you are going
if you choose to fly from
here; we have no disease,
no pain, no needless
slaying on our street.
Here, we are not too –
busy, to care.

A stream of knowledge
explodes inside ill nourished
brains. Educated, by a mere
rays of our sun, cured
of bad habits; once you’ve
lingered long enough to heal.

Two, hug a stream of light,
as if two – were alive, a
woman clings to water
fingering her way to
touch haphazard pebbles
in a stream.

Although we cherish freedom –
how free is free? How far away
must we fly? I felt a pull, turned
and noticed you were naked, too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We Have Returned

We Have Returned

Giant buildings - no bigger
than my finger –
at the curve -swimming
in the ocean – huts of blue –
empty - last nights
foot prints show at low
tide – nothing has changed

I recall laughing – then a hush
it was last night before
seaweed washed beyond a
tractors tracks disturbing ladies
carrying plastic bags
shells to send home – as if to
prove, “We are here.”

Some jog – some linger in
a morning fog – some alone –
others walk hand in hand
to view another sunrise – to
snap another photo – even as
a tide rolls in and out –
our sun brings silence as it
reaches up and out of the

At high noon when heat
burnt tender flesh, blisters –
mothers plaster lotion
onto bare skin – believing in
At high noon children stir
sand into castles – a dream
destroyed when day is night

Men cover up their nose with
Noxema – strut up and down
the shore still staring at a girl
in a bikini – forgetting what
it is – but knowing when

their children played in sand
and slept in blue huts along
an ocean, slept in simple
rooms – heard the rush of
a high tide slapping wooden

laughing never ceased, as
children - free to walk
along a shore –
tossing bread to sea gulls
laughing – knowing tomorrow
would be like today – no one
thought time would pass so
quickly as a tide greeted a
moon in a night sky.

Thursday, November 11, 2010



It has been so long since you left.

Tell me, how could something stab you in your heart?

Remember when you brought your son to New York City?
You were happy when you left, holding his hand, waving
from the train. Grandmother told me, “He looked like a
gangster.” I guess you seldom wore a suit.

Remember the apple tree, pear, and cherry… they are
all dead too. The house is getting old, run down, but
I still visit. Did they call it Goose Hill in 1928?

I wish you were walking with me, talking to me, holding
my hand when I was a child. I never knew you.

Women in the neighborhood work, wear pants, and
drive cars. Some don’t believe in marriage, or children,
and some women choose to have children without
a husband. You had your marriage planned: three days
and you were married.

I wonder if you felt pain, as Grandmother, the night
your son died? That was the beginning of the end, wasn’t it?
Now, so many people have passed away, or they live alone
without family or friends.

I still want to know - how did something stab your heart?

Remember when you told the boys not to climb the old
water tank, but they didn’t listen. The brick building in the
alley, the one where fruit was stored, it still stands; as children
we etched our name on brick.

Did you know you were leaving? Did you?

People commute to New York City by Amtrak, in no time.
Trains move fast. And, no one makes home made wine, or
gathers on a Sunday for a feast around the old maple table.

Were you sad, when you had to leave? Did you know?
Did someone stab you in your heart? Or, was it really a crate?

Down Street is empty, stores you would remember are torn
down. That railroad bridge crossing Erie Boulevard
near your home on Green Street is still there; but someone
robbed the sign, the city designated your green house by the
old tracks, historical.

You were a good man, an honest man with a family.

Did you watch from heaven when the boys sat around
the table and burned the mortgage? It was the best day of
their lives.

Grandmother never placed a thing in the bow window
where you laid inside a casket. They drained your
blood into a tub, in your own bathroom.

Your friend, the one blown up in his car in front of a
hotel, he was on his way to testify on your behalf? He
must be with you now. All you did was work hard, and
deliver fruit; but the fruit men didn’t want to pay.

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Thursday, October 28, 2010



Crossed a linoleum floor
to a paisley spread,
newly weds
side by side in
separate beds - two
children shared a
heated room; one sucked
her thumb, one wet
her bed.

His Uncle's boots untied,
perched on a stool near
a metal sign - selling
old stuff, “Antiques,” he

Cribs, pillows, one old
blanket hung to divide
a living space; his new
family all crammed
into one room -
Is this their honeymoon?

“Stay put, lots of space
right here, near the beach,”
his Uncle John tugged on
a sunburned arm.

Many a night we slept
on wet sand - youth
was on our side, and
traveled long distances
counting stars, counted
quarters for a hamburger,
but a place like this
should be torn down for
the sake of two children
laying side by side -
two children asleep
with toes sticking out of
the rail of a crib.

That night eighteen
wheelers cruised on a
beach road going eighty
miles per hour,
afraid to shut your
eyes -
as head lights
beamed into our room.

By morning light, while
pelicans were playing on
a dock – feet tip toed
passed a hanging blanket;
heard a couple snore -
glanced at two children
sharing a crib: sheets
the smell of urine.

Left paisley spreads and
separate beds, newly weds,
and children sharing one
small crib – in one room
among antiques, on a
beach they told us they

Nancy Duci Denofio
all right reserved

Saturday, October 23, 2010



A shot glass you once held and gave
to us – a souvenir
has been on display since you
passed away
at parties among gin – scotch - whiskey
and there - a Schlitz shot glass
peers at us with eyes unseen.

A simple token of you brings back
laughter – stories - tales of when you
too were here embracing life -
it was this a glass we brought . . .
I told you so
while I talked to you on the porch -
asking, “Please show us you are here

A different week - broken mirrors. . .
not knowing why two broke into
smithereens - then a glass moves
moving dust around - a clean circle,
we knew it was you

a meeting with a glass, he told me
to place inside my purse – so
that night – on our porch I asked
you to please give us a sign –
to know forever more
you are with us

we are sitting among all
who prayed to themselves
to be chosen – but was
it all our words – our talks
which mean so much – I knew
you were listening – I knew you
were following my steps

number one – we knew a medium
came through as she talked -
words of a child – what she
held inside a coffin – what she
wore to sleep – who was the last
one to hold her hand. . .
next a woman deep in depression –
another needing surgery – and
finally the girl in the blue blouse -
our eyes connected

she said, “I see two – a paternal
Grandmother pushing to be heard
first and your mother – holding
a baby in her arms.”
Every word connected us – but
when she held up her hand and
said, “Your mother is
talking about a little glass” my
husband nearly collapsed.
when she said, “The mirrors –
she didn’t break the expensive one…”
and when she told me not to
soak my feet, it was expensive -
supportive shoes I need. . .
mother’s words continued and
she wasn’t skipping a beat – she
did not want to stop telling
and all she said was perfectly
read -

now I know for sure your
with me – between us as we
ride – you said so, knowing I
do not drive. . .
you told us you were listening

like the good luck plant – a man
gave me – Irish Shamrocks -
on Mothers Day, he gave to me,
a stranger

so we continue – we communicate
without words – your love remains
strong now – as if we looked
eye to eye

Nancy Duci Denofio

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Cemetery Parking Lot

Here near the front door
near push carts -
near blue light specials -
watching a lady from the
salvation army, ringing a bell -
swinging a red bucket,
half smiling,
tilting her head -
half smiling -
near double doors -
the front entrance to
K-Mart -

I want to wait inside
our car - where a
cemetery surrounds
the hospital on the hill,
behind garbage bins -
near employee parking
where you can smoke...
I want to wait inside
the car while you
purchase paper towels,
toilet paper, garbage
bags, soap, and fabric
softener -

I wait in the car play
with the crank out window,
slip my fingers over
the steering wheel -
feel where a horn plays
music, feel a knob
which turns on wind shield
wipers - a knob -
to twist for headlights -
I wait in the car - remove
my shoes, toes touch a
brown - thicker - carpet
you replaced after you
spilled paint from a
hardware store -

I wait inside the car -
blow on windows draw
stick figures on glass -
blow on windows draw
houses, balloons and
cats -

I wait inside the car,
cover my legs with your
old navy blanket, rest
my head on a padded
arm rest - close my

and, I wait inside the
car - falling asleep -
listening to a bell held
by a half smiling lady
near double doors -
opposite the cemetery
where you were laid
to rest.

Nancy Duci Denofio
"What Brought You Here?"
published June 2010
Dystenium LLC

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Memories of Love

Dream with me -
become part of my world,
hold my hand, and share with me
collected memories of love.

Nature speaks in silent words
trees cling together
limbs covered in ice
magical, alive
a paramount to nature

each year I search a familiar brook,
a mountain top -
a current or a stream,
unending as our love -
we embrace - trees cling
together with frozen snow our
limbs bare.

Sunshine peeks through
branches, sparkling water
as it gives way to nature, rocks -
mounds of earth in the way

a stream flows, unending
in jagged lines, disturbing earth
creating a waterway deeper, deeper
in the woods.

Now, I stroll along paths where we
shared our love – so deep inside
a forest - greeting me – a familiar
brook where we became part of
nature sharing earth – skin glistens

Our love – unending - distance will
pull us apart, but not destroy love.
We share love among shadows
where snow has remained,
we melt together, becoming one.

Safe among the trees,
limbs, frozen
no feeling on bare skin -
sky of blue - high among towering
trees - below a stream
trickles from snow melting
to make way for ice –
for snow – for love.

Part Two

I made private plans with nature
to share my world with you,
so far away – love – changes
as seasons cause
water once flowing over stones
to forge as rapids, down –
away from our mountain

I share my thoughts
among the trees,
of you, and I - alone,
embracing in winter snow -
a stream never ends,
growing stronger - as love,
we connect arms -
tree limbs - connect life
in our forest.

So - let me share with you,
walk with me among the forest -
our path will meet once more,
its end, when I no longer dream
in winter white - when I melt in
springtime -

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Monday, October 4, 2010


Blood Lines 1966

It wasn't the hair, gauze shirt
with a zipper down the back
but, his voice...
so strong -
it rattled my bones -
broke my heart...
sent goose bumps down a spine.

Who, who was he before he turned
arms thin -
moccasins worn...
Strength came from his soul
it cried out...
reaching the nervous …

Care? Who - cares about yesterday,
today he gave his blood
his thin leg’s crossed
eyes lost in time
weaker now

all they noticed - a gauze shirt -
the beard -
worn moccasins,
not worn purple veins,
No one new his name.

Nancy Duci Denofio

Saturday, October 2, 2010



A black wreath collects flakes of snow for the fruit man.
A black wreath nailed to a door of old wood – while
snow decorates a wreath with white – as a soul of a
fruit man.

Spheres of crystal once frozen - cry from the upstairs
porch, dripping tears as the sun kisses morning –
releasing ice from night – allowing men now and
women to ascend the steps; dressed in black.

A footstep crushes a dead leaves, it’s November.
Women carry trays of food, their heads bent forward,
bowed in prayer, forward to hide emotions, or simply
bowed to step carefully and cursing winter. Women
with naked legs, rolled down stockings, and a black
over coat. A veil hides tears, only God knows.

“God, why have you taken John, a young man, a
husband, a father of three sons?”

A woman stares at the man who climbs stairs as
she listens to the words, shakes her head as if she
too is wondering about God.

“He wasn’t ready for the other side,” speaking to
a man, reaching the top of the stairway.

Men and women cross a sidewalk - see the wreath,
as specs of snow drip from under branches – crying
mourning too for John – the fruit man.

Men and women climb a narrow staircase - smell of
cedar clings to hand sewn drapes covering the top
of a stained glass window; visitors stare out to
Seneca Street then turn to climb four more steps to
the second floor – the mahogany door is open.

Here, others gather to pray, to stare at death, to
observe John sleeping between bow windows,
his parlor, his place to live, now still.

Flowers surround his casket – yet all you hear is
the dripping of water into a bucket, keeping his
body cold.

Women gather in the kitchen - talk about those
three long days when Nancy hid her tears, her
head laying on a pillow where the words John
stitched with her hands – catches tears.

Her head on the pillow where her husband
was left alone to die – not knowing heaven was
so close – not knowing to stay by his side.

Women talk - pour a bit of espresso, slice hot
bread - Nancy will never know who took up space –
who drank – who ate, or cooked homemade bread?
She won’t recall who hugged her, wiped tears and
tasted salt on her cheeks – who felt her pain.

John – she thought – he never cared about one
gold tooth as it shined catching light when she
laughed, never noticed old worn dingy aprons,
or watched as she twisted clothes like twisting
her hair into a braid. John, never saw pin holes
in her dress where flowers were placed on their
wedding day.

God took her sunlight in the winter of her life,
three sons to raise alone, in a world where
immigrants were frowned upon.

She saw the undertaker drain John’s blood into
their tub on Monday morning – three days he
laid between bow windows, where plants grew
in daylight – his soul left long ago – through
white light.

She won't remember friends – how they
carried on, some gawking at the casket,
commenting on his youth, how peaceful he
appeared, asleep between hand sewn drapes
near pictures of his son’s.

She won’t remember friends who washed
dishes, after feeding the hungry, or cleaning
her kitchen – those who remained at her side
a day of two friends who whispered each other
“What will become of them, a mother
and her three sons?”

John, asleep beneath the earth for years -
Nancy walked those twenty blocks to his
resting place in all seasons of the year – to
place flowers from her garden at his headstone.

As age began to take a toll – her feet began
to swell, her hands shake as flowers were
placed at his grave; she never complained . . .

She talked with John, her gold tooth catching
sunlight. On her walk, slower now passing
strangers – nodding hello – still talking to her
husband, promising to meet at heavens gate.

Alone at his resting place is where her tears
fell onto marble, crouched on her knees, on
snow, moist grass, on leaves, on ice –
She prayed aloud - touched his photograph.

John’s friend Ralph – she told him,
"He tried to help – tried to tell why your
life ended - but the Fruit Men went to
Syracuse - Ralph died - so at the end the
Fruit Men won.

Nancy Duci Denofio

Tuesday, September 28, 2010




Look into a stranger’s eyes
what – three dollars for a
bottle of water – fifty dollars
to park the car

a bed with a partial ocean
view – out on the deck -
twist to your left – bend
forward - look

1954 – lucky if you found
a motel for four – two
single beds – no one
searched for bed bugs

no one had wheels on
a suitcase – holding a
brown tweed hard case
popped open all the time

now - even if the cost
continues to rise – most
fly – bags are measured by
the inch

this one slightly slips
through the hole, this one
has too much packed on
its’ side

that one – not a carry on
as you shove your purse
inside – forgetting what
you packed, and where

by mistake the medication
was placed inside a bag
costing fifty dollars more
to ship –

you had to toss containers
into a trash - thought
extra would pass the
guard - complained but

no one cracks a smile,
or cares about the cost -
when all you needed was
a slightly larger zip

lock bag - shoved
one hundred dollar
face cream into a dollar
store container -

men never fill plastic
bags - remember room
numbers - or care if
they see the ocean -

took no time to pack
or cared what they had
to bring - probably
never unpacked 0r fought

over a top drawer in
one of those over priced
hotels -

where we go it doesn’t
matter – it’s when you
leave or come back –

still see a twin engine
as propellers were
gaining speed - flew
close to the ground

too young
to care

now a family spends
hours in front of a
computer screen – to
find a deal so they

all can travel to
some far off
driving first four

hours, paid higher
prices for gasoline -
frantic as they run
into the airport

paid to park a car
for the entire week -
booked an early flight -
bareky make it -

could it be so much
better - flying to a
destination where bed
bugs still congregate

1954 - waving good bye
you were on the tarmac
no guards, no police -
only a free feeling

wind from
propellers –

dreaming of your vacation
where – it never mattered
when, one day it would

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Saturday, September 25, 2010

BIRTH OF A SON from book "What Brought You Here?"

Birth of a Son

It took a little girl
to wipe my forehead
It took a little girl to place
a cold wet cloth
on my face,
a little girl to squeeze my
hand, and reach up, to touch
my face.

It took a little girl to fluff a
tear drenched pillow
beneath my head.
A little girl who sat patiently
at the edge of a feather bed,
before the screams - before
Papa left between contractions.

PaPa peeked through a door-
way – had his child been born?

It took a little girl to heat the towels
and place them beneath by back,
It took a little girl to rub my feet,
and place white porcelain buckets
at the bottom of my bed.

It took a little girl to help me push
and she stared and wrinkled her nose.

A little girl whose eyes were
filled with tears, ran to the window
announcing you were here.

“What Brought You Here?”
page 45 – 46
Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Thursday, September 23, 2010


One Capsule in the Forest

a single tree
breathes in the forest

a benign tumor.

bacteria wiped out
the mountain.
a fungus spread from
limb to limb

sparing one single tree

a capsule for a new
the cordial for a forest.

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Nails in Palms

Can you guide only a few?
Some must suffer so –
some - must feel nails once
punctured into your feet -
your palm’s.

Are we really here for
a reason – can we help
a stranger and would
they listen? Can we tell
a friend you were – here
will they walk away –

When sickness comes
they look up – at who
we do not see – but
learning – yes there is
a bright light - you
send others back – to
push them home. . .

Must have felt nails in
their palms – nails hit
so hard – pain . . . will
never leave.

Your home felt nails
but not built with human
hand’s, yet you believed

a reason, learned –

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Friday, September 17, 2010



(Lately a group of us on line at Got Poetry on Facebook have written one minute of less poetry, so here is one to share with you.)

I write it
to you -
genius -
on the inside,
but more like me
on the outside

I tell you,
but you know it -
you are a genius
I'm less than
you are -
on the inside

suddenly it grabs
it feels as if I
don't belong -
will I disappoint
will you hesitate
from the outside?

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Wednesday, September 8, 2010



first a cloud
of light in
your vision - like
smog covering a city
on a humid day. . .
it's disease

eyes closed
at night
pulling shades
of yesterday
a dream revealing
a picture of a
coming storm

words vanish on
paper -
shadows on a
crystal ball. . .

disease - restless
now, as the eye
of a storm
passes in night

thunder -
strikes - wires
snap as wind
rips into darkness
destroying light

someday -
perhaps tomorrow. . .
a desvastating
storm - severe
enough to erase

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CEMETARY PARKING LOT from book What Brought You Here?

Cemetery Parking Lot

the space near the front
door - near push
carts - near blue
light specials - near a
lady from the salvation
army, ringing a bell -
swinging a red bucket,
half smiling, tilting
her hat - half smiling -
near double doors -
at the front entrance to

I want to wait inside
our car - where a
cemetery surrounds
the hospital on the hill,
behind garbage bins -
near employee parking
where you can smoke.
I want to wait inside
the car while you
purchase paper towels,
toilet paper, garbage
bags, soap, and fabric

I wait in the car play
with the crank out window,
slip my fingers over
the steering wheel -
feel where a horn plays
music, feel a knob
which turns on wind shield
wipers - a knob -
to twist for headlights -

I wait in the car - remove
my shoes, toes touch a
brown - thicker - carpet
you replaced after you
spilled paint from a
hardware store.

I wait inside the car -
blow on windows draw
stick figures on glass -
blow on windows draw
houses, balloons and

I wait inside the car,
cover my legs with your
old navy blanket, rest
my head on a padded
arm rest - close my

And, I wait inside the
car - falling asleep -
listening to a bell held
by a half smiling lady
near double doors -
opposite the cemetery
where you were laid
to rest.

Nancy Duci Denofio
from book "What Brought You Here?"
published by Dystenium 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010


A Last Goodbye (imagine coming back to say goodbye to one you once loved, after you have left this earth.)

A finger straight
she wipes dust from
a golden plate; white
gowns, white gloves;
men stand tall escorting
all who love.

As she floats by
stained glass windows,
white gowns, pearls and
veils . . . In her eyes –
spider webs of silk,
some a dusty shade of pink.
She watches – a line of
men turn their backs from
the golden rail. Turn away
from a golden plate. . .

Once she talked of
power like a deck of
cards turned, one by one.
And a sliver of light
cuts the fog – recalling
his arms around her
waist and lifting her
to kiss his face.

She glares into the
brightest light, then
glances back at a silk
wedding gown. . .
Her finger straight –
she lightly touches
his broad shoulder,
blows air onto his neck.

Time has come to face
a brighter light –
She said her last goodbye.

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Friday, August 27, 2010


A Bird Without Wings

springs are dry
in a forest
a bird with broken
wings cannot fly –

a scanty path to
follow – to reach
a brook without

stones –
tossed my way

we keep our
distance short –
like the bird
who cannot fly,
who cannot reach

a place of security
or touch wings
fluttering as a
mother feeds
beak to beak

as an empty
spring –
our lips remain
dry –
our lips are
not moist from
each others

as a bird who
once flew
now wallows
on moist
hollow ground
hope is gone

for one
who gathered
stones - emptied
brooks where
children use to
step –

each stone
tossed -
to build a wall –

a wall - you will
never climb
you are a bird
without wings

Nancy Duci Denofio

Wednesday, August 25, 2010



those words we heard together
from a stranger – stayed near
for such a short time -
I thought it would have changed
you – I believed power from
beyond would have opened up
a force you never felt –

but – I was wrong

why I worry more then you?
why I beg for your lips?
why I ask for a little time?

my reasons are now fading
I was wrong - to wonder

those words we heard together
meant so much for so little
time – if I had a string to
tie you – to have you listen
to them one more time –

it would not have made you
different – your words were
always right -

but, I was always wrong

you walk through time as a
you ignore me like a pestering
you shake your head and agree

but, then you say you don’t
recall why?

my reasons are now fading
as those words from a stranger
I did believe you listened

but, I was wrong

turn away – for I am not looking
turn away – for I am not hearing
turn away – because I can see
a statue passing by –

you were once the best wine on
my lips
you were the best cluster of grapes
to make – wine
your were the best taste when we

I see how love dissolves

I am the last grape on your vine

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved

Thursday, August 19, 2010



Stone houses against
a mountain side, between
bushes of red gardenias
and hydrangeas near
lime and lemon trees,
near olive branches –
and wheat fields.

A street, narrow;
balconies and stoops
where town folk gather
in clusters, similar to
all clusters - along
the edge of the mountain.

Villagers gather to share
secrets - or to be proud;
a cross now pinned outside
off of a cotton slip -
signifying her husband or
son notified her - soon
they shall return for
those he left behind.
Leaving America - a place
he only knew.

A gust of wind - a thin layer
of ash from Mount Etna
finds its way between the
mountain and lay its ash
over the clothes attached
to olive trees.

Women pray for spring to
bring heavy rains, and keep
rain away in June – for it
would kill buds blooming
on the trees.

Women pray for husbands
to come home, to be happy
in the mountain, filling sacks
with wheat – for the wheat
man – the rich man in town.

This winter a few flakes of
snow crossed the mountain
top – and kissed a palm.

A simple stoop of stone –
a hen struts by to
enter a home - with an open
door, where birds of all
colors – as shrubs or trees
flock to hear the music
on the streets.

Homes stand side by
side, deeper – instead of
wide. A simple stoop where
women compare the price
of an artichoke - when few
feet walked –
pick another fresh – but its
weight to much to bare.

Pictures of saints are lined
on walls, near a picture of
the Brooklyn Bridge.
One room – one table, and
chairs. Upstairs, what
women call a marriage

At the end of a day when
purple covers the sea and
a mountain sleeps – when
donkeys are tied in stalls
and children dream – some
stay awake counting stars.

Children hear prayers from
a neighbors home, and cries –
when a letter arrives – knowing
someone else will never cross
the ocean – will never make it
home – back where houses
clustered close, where elders
And in the darkness
children listen.

Nancy Duci Denofio

Wednesday, August 18, 2010



rubber hits ice, air escapes
like a bursting balloon
pulling me sideways then

down, as if a giant hole
in the pavement sucked
me into darkness

horns muffled and water
rushed inside, touching
my feet, rushing up
to my knees, as cold as
autumn air, I
taste sharp cracks
in ice as if a razor blade
cut my skin

I can hear the six o'clock
plane heading west, and the bells
of Saint Agnes - like the
flushing of a toilet, pulling
down through a drain, sucking
all that is . . .

I hear the wind cut through
bare branches
of a tree, as bodies swarm
on top of me - on ice - my teeth
clenched, my head touching
the steering wheel - then
a red light warmed my soul.

Nancy Duci Denofio
published in What Brought You Here
June 2010 page 39

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Carnival


At the fire station –
cotton candy, caramel apples,
and the merry-go-round,
but I knelt near a window
a shade half blocking my view.
I heard music from the
same song, and
same horses.
same people from
our village standing in line.

I leave the porch to
sit on worn steps, chipped
paint catches cotton.
I stretch my legs to kick some
stones, and scuff my shoe’s.

You are not here to yell,
you are not here to watch
me cross a street,
you are not here to hold me
when the horse moves up and

You are not here to hug me.

A small road crosses in front
of the old porch where cars
park near weeds, near grave
markers, those dead from the
I wonder if you too can hear
the music?
I wonder if you too can see
flashing lights?

You are not here to keep my
hand warm, but next to all those
parked cars, you are still there,
still riding the merry-go-round
at the carnival. . .
but, you forgot to say good-bye.

Nancy Duci Denofio
published June 2010
by Dystenium
pages 14 - 15

Friday, August 13, 2010



One morning on my way to school,
I took the orange pills from our window
ledge – facing Seneca Street where
mother watches me if I run to fetch
something from the big market. . .
I take her from the ledge, stuff them
into my pocket of a freshly starched
pink flowered dress.
Behind grandmother’s bushes near
red beans I use to make mud pies,
I remove the top.
All those orange pills stare at me, like
the eyes of those in our neighborhood.
I took one - chewed it – then started to
walk, first past Charlie’s Grocery – he
wasn’t in his rocker chewing on his
cigar. . .

I walked down Avenue A toward my
school, noticed one of mother’s friends
beating a rug against the railing of her
porch. She never looked my way, so I
took another orange pill from the jar,
and chewed it. Then, glanced back
toward the porch, waved to mother’s
friend, sneaking the bottle back into
my pocket. I thought I took enough
to live.

“Twinkle - Twinkle little star….”

Humming the song to myself, leaning
my head against the push out window
of our Studebaker… “How I wonder what
you are?”
I began to draw stick figures on the window
of our Studebaker then rubbing it clean –
breathing – rubbing – breathing – rubbing
and drawing, erasing it – exhaling, and
breathing, drawing, erasing it . . .

“Up above the world so high….”
I believe it was my first time to fly.

Nancy Duci Denofio
All Rights Reserved