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Spring 2015


The Harbor of the World
- O. Arieti
Those Italian Boys
- I. Backalenick
Friendless Featherheads
- G. Beck
- K. Cain
- J. Campbell
King Street Comanche
- B. Foster
- L. Giulianetti
Poets Out of Service
- M. Johnson
Irish Farmer
- L. Kumar
Communion Portrait
- J. Lagier
- M. Lisella
Connemara 2004
- C. Lloyd
Carrying Grandpa
- M. Lyon
The Saying of Mass
- C. Moore
Taking You home
- J. Mulligan
- P. Murray
- P. Nicholas
Resurrecting Easter Sunday
- L. Pierro
Dublin Spirts
- F. Polizzi
Nun Ponnu/They Cannot
- N. Provenzano
- K. Retzlaff
- C. Steinhoff
Strawberry Pickers, Cyprus
- J. Tarwood
Melina's Tarverna
- B. Thomas
No News
- R. Tremmel
- R. Volz
Broadway Bagel
- C. Wald
Taking My 8-Year-Old Daughter to Hear Seamus Heaney
- L. Wiley
My Mother Had a Relationship with Good Bread
- C. Young
Sicilian Traces
- A. Znaidi

Spring 2015


- J. Amato
Moving Day, 1897
- D. Corrigan
My Madeleine
- F. Dunne
A Review Of Italoamericana: The Literature Of The Great Migration, 1880–1943
- G. Fagiani
The Immigrant's Grandson
- J. Giordano
Review of The Glass Ships
- R. Crupi Holz
A Sunday Afternoon
- R. Iulo
Dark Idyll
- T. Sanfilip
The Choir Book
- G. Sullivan
Review of My Two Italies
- T. Zeppetella

Featured Artist
Richard Holz



Joe Giordano

The Immigrant's Grandson

Nicholas Robustelli was a rumpled traveler in jeans and sneakers. He ran his hand through salt and pepper hair and stirred in his coach seat. The plane sunk below clouds that cast blue-green shadows across the double-humped caldera of Vesuvius and dulled the turquoise sparkle of the Bay of Naples. In Arrivals, a slim man with a deep cleft in his chin held up a sign, Nicholas Robustelli. He wore a tailored jacket with an open collar, white shirt. Not a hair or thread was out of place.

Nicolas extended his hand. “Doctor Abandonato?”

“Cousin, call me Salvatore.” Abandonato shook hands, then grasped Nicholas by the shoulders. “Welcome to Napoli.”

Grazie for meeting me at the airport.”

“It’s nothing. You look tired. Why don’t we get a coffee?” Abandonato offered to roll his suitcase, but Nicholas refused. As they walked, Abandonato said, “This is your first time in Italy?”

“I’ve been to Milan on business, but this is my first trip to Naples.”

The coffee shop was brightly lit with a few wooden tables. Most patrons stood at the black marble bar. Payment was in advance. Abandonato asked what Nicholas wanted.


Abandonato smiled. “That proves you’re American. In Italy, only women have milk in their coffee after colazione. In the afternoon, we take espresso.”

Abandonato paid and the barista turned to the espresso machine.

Nicholas spoke over hissing geysers of super-hot steam that dribbled the liquid into white cups. “I’ve been flying since yesterday. I need more than a finger of coffee to wake up.”

“For you it’s breakfast time. Saluté.”

Abandonato downed his coffee in a gulp and clicked his cup onto the saucer. Nicholas sipped his cappuccino and daubed away a foam mustache.

Nicholas said, “I’m so glad you found me through Facebook. My aunts had some contact with family in Italy, but they’ve all passed away. I never took an interest when I was young.”

“Your grandfather Niccolò was the only member of our family to immigrate to the United States. My grandfather was his stepbrother. Our entire family now lives in Pozzuoli.”

“Ah, that’s an exclusive suburb; things have improved for the family. My grandfather, I was told, was a tenant farmer in Caserta before he immigrated. I have a grainy picture of him in a doughboy’s uniform from World War I. That’s how he became a U.S. citizen. After the war, he brought his wife and my six-year-old father to New York.”

“How was life in America for them?”

“Niccolò was a ragman recovering what he could from trash and what was thrown away when a family member died. Rags crusted with filth were hung on lines, washed by the rain and bleached by the sun before being sold for papermaking. Things weren’t better for my father. He’d been out of work two years during the Great Depression when he landed a job in a warehouse. He worked rapidly to impress his boss, grabbed a box and knocked over a glass ashtray. It shattered on the concrete floor and he was fired on the spot.”

“What a shame.”

“We first generation Americans stand on immigrant shoulders. My father had no education, so he insisted I did. Your e-mail reminded me of my roots. I thumbed through some old photographs and my wife Carol said, ‘Go to Italy.’ Here I am.”

“Everyone is excited to meet you.”

“Great. While we’re alone, I’d like to ask about a specific piece of family history.”

“What would you like to know?”

“After my grandfather died, my father hardly spoke of him. An aunt told me that Niccolò came to the United States aboard a merchant steamer. He skipped off without papers and tried to disappear into the Lower Eastside of New York.”


“The cops in Manhattan grabbed him and he was given the choice to enlist or be deported back to Italy.”

Abandonato’s eyes diverted.

Nicholas continued, “Whispers were that he left Italy in a hurry. It’s strange that a man would leave his wife and son in Naples to try and disappear in New York.”

“Yes.” Abandonato shifted on his feet.

“You hear things as a kid when the adults don’t know you’re around. My father told his sister that Niccolò was a wanted man.”


“Niccolò had a dispute with an aristocrat in Caserta. My grandfather was accused of stealing and he shot the land owner in the face with a shotgun.”

Abandonato stiffened. “What do you want from me?”

“There must be newspaper accounts. My Italian isn’t good enough to search the archives. Would you help?”

“If the story is true, and I don’t say that it is, why in God’s name would you want to unearth the past?”

“If my grandfather committed murder, I want to understand why. Was he falsely accused of stealing? Was it a matter of honor? There had to be a police file.”

“It happened a hundred years ago.”

“Yes, but his life, my father’s, and mine turned on this single incident. Did I become a successful American because of a crime? I want to know.”

Abandonato took a step back. “I’m so sorry. I’ve made a terrible error.”

“What do you mean?”

“Facebook is unreliable. There are so many Robustellis in America. I made contact with the wrong person.”

“Are you joking?”

Scusi, this is so embarrassing. We’re not related. I should’ve been more careful before allowing you to come to Napoli. I’ll pay for your airline ticket and drive you to your hotel, but I’m afraid you’re on your own.”