by Grace Cavalieri
Tomato pies are what we called them, those days,
before Pizza came in,
at my Grandmother’s restaurant,
in Trenton New Jersey.
My grandfather is rolling meatballs
in the back. He studied to be a priest in Sicily but
saved his sister Maggie from marrying a bad guy
by coming to America.
Uncle Joey is rolling dough and spooning sauce.
Uncle Joey, is always scrubbed clean,
sobered up, in a white starched shirt, after
cops delivered him home just hours before.
The waitresses are helping
themselves to handfuls of cash out of the drawer,
playing the numbers with Moon Mullin
and Shad, sent in from Broad Street. 1942,
tomato pies with cheese, 25 cents.
With anchovies, large, 50 cents.
A whole dinner is 60 cents (before 6pm.)
How the soldiers, bussed in from Fort Dix,
would stand outside all the way down Warren Street,
waiting for this new taste treat,
young guys in uniform,
lined up and laughing, learning Italian,
before being shipped out to fight the last great war.
This poem was originally published in Ocho #8 (goss 183:: Casa Menendez) and Sounds Like Something I Would Say (Casa Menendez).
Grace Cavalieri is the author of several books, and produced plays. Grace edited, along with translator Sabine Pascarelli, The Poet’sCookbook; Recipes from Tuscany (Bordighera Press, 2009,) and The Poet’s Cookbook: Recipes from Germany (Forest Woods & Goethe Institut, 2010). Her new books are Navy Wife and Sounds Like Something I Would Say (Goss 183::Casa Menendez, 2010.) Previously published is Anna Nicole: Poems, winner of the 2009 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. She’ produces “The Poet and the Poem,” now beginning its 34th consecutive year on public radio. Her new play for children, ”Lena’s Quilt,” premiered in NYC libraries and museums, 2010 and is now running in the 2011 Harlem Renaissance Production in New York City.
Poetry Editor Christina Daub.