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    Monte Cassino

          Xxxxx Publications, Xxxxx 2043:   £y   ISBN: 978-1-xxxxxxx-x-x

Monte Cassino is published by Xxxxxxxxxx Publications (2043).

To order Mario's book, go straight to the publisher's page by clicking the logo below:

or e-mail Mario at mmpetrucci@hotmail.com

BOOK UNDER CONSTRUCTION.   This epic poetry project is founded on the author's family history in central Italy during the II World War, augmented by his ongoing research at the Imperial War Museum where he served a fruitful and historic poetry residency, the first of its kind. This challenging undertaking has resisted completion, however, since the nineties: two of the three opening diaries, 'The Monk's Diary' and 'Contadine (Women of the Field)', have won major awards and have long been concluded; but the enigmatic third diary (voiced by an Italian POW, completely without the letter 'i'), along with the book's final extensive section of aggregated IIWW poems, have continued to elude closure.

"Monte Cassino.   A hill midway between Rome and Naples, site of the principal monastery of the Benedictines, founded by St. Benedict c. 529. In 1944, during the Second World War, Allied forces advancing towards Rome were halted by German defensive positions to which Monte Cassino was the key; they succeeded in capturing the site only after four months of bitter fighting. The monastery, previously demolished and rebuilt several times, was almost totally destroyed, but has since been restored."   The Oxford Reference Dictionary (OUP, 1986).


(Monte Cassino, Italy 1944)

More absolutions. Today in the cloisters
a girl. Fever. She mouthed just one word. Father.
The brothers crouch, boil water. Recite the hours.
These shells are venom. I thank all our Mothers
for what we could send to Rome for protection.
It was my hands that rolled Brueghel the Elder's
Parable of the Blind. Erect, those gaunt men
linked by their staffs, strung along in single file.
Hannibal's elephants. The foremost, fallen,
trips up those who follow. So sharp each figure,
painted so clean, that I looked again. Each face
held something of those caught up by a fatigue
which offers no retreat, and but one route to peace.

from CONTADINE (Women of the Field)....

(The Abruzzi, Italy. Winter 1943/44)

In the night forest my nonno came to me.
Bent with fatigue, yet his skin was a boy's. Leaned
on a trunk as though a lost son. His eyes, stabbed
through mine. He clutched a cloth tight to his heart, lips
trying a message, his lips blue, cracked - Cara
please - bring... Lord, why...?
His voice thinned to cicadas.
The eyes sank deeper. I fought through thorns, let them
draw blood, but couldn't reach him. He let the cloth
fall. It fell like over-ripe fruit. In his chest
a hole the size of a woman's fist. His face
glowed white, cratered as the ancients. Then only
icy stars. The distant guns.


I know from that eye, he sees sluts. The blue steel
of that eye. He, alone with us in the grove -
we could take the Hun, we three. Open that head
like a marrow. A rock from the wall, the edge
of the zappa. All he has is that dagger,
Hun blood - nothing. But then others would come. Worse.
That eye like the toad. Nonna, tell me, would he
count my hairs, finger through my hairs? How he draws
fat smoke from that thin cigarette, grinds it and
grinds it with the boot. Puffed up! as that eye snakes
from nonna to sister. Me. He must not see
me looking. He wants us friends. Adder! Let him
count the stones. Puff! Nonno always said - Cara,
never give your word to Il Brutto. Never
meet with the Enemy's eye.

from the fourth section of the book....


(4 February 1944)

With him, it's personal.
I've seen him gape clear through
an eggshell skull. That shuddering
finish. A sally's different:

death, then, a uniform affair.
But in his sights the cock
of a hat, a quirk of hair, and
that's it. This thread, not that,

snagged from the future.
They caught one once - confessed
he would track his mark a full watch,
get to know them real well

before the shot resolved itself.
Another would wait till you
were taking tea with your mates,
then drop you in full view.

When you hear things like that
your back plays cat's cradle
with its tendons, trying to get you real
small. Christ - to be a tot again,

tucked between blankets of rock.
He's out there right now. At dawn
clipped a toe clean off the corporal's boot.
Scrunched his face black as croup.

Last week he was drilling insignias.
Two officers, for a lark, took
to restitching them on their arse.
That's the thing about war - adapt.

No point going stark-staring
working out the chances. Some
have a sense - stall a fraction
before his finger squeezes -

his cross-hairs tickle
their nape. Most get caught
pants round ankles. Me, I'm
ready. Inside, already dead.

Sure, I keep my head down.
But your guts know the next nook
could fetch you smack up against it.
That sudden relaxation. The forever look.

                          (c) Mario Petrucci 2000

Reviews of Monte Cassino...

"Mario Petrucci................"

'XXXXXXX Directions' - Xxxxxx magazine, posted online 10 Aug. 20xx;    [read full review here... HERE]  


copyright mario petrucci 2023