The American in Italia: Just ask

Below you will find a link to my column Lost in Translation and my most recent article “Just Ask” – The column has taken on a new flavor. No longer found in the Living section, Lost is now all on its own   in the world of dating and advice.

Likewise, although I’ll continue to post here each month, I’ll also be collaborating via Medium and continue the Q & A advice column. Should you be interested in following on Medium please send an email and I’ll add you to the reader list.

Enjoy.

http://www.theamericanmag.com/article.php?article=5337

The Sea of Trust, A Photograph

“The men nodded vigorously at me. When they took hold of me and lifted me in their strong arms, I thought nothing of it. I thought they were helping me. I was so full of trust in them that I felt grateful as they carried me in the air. Only when they threw me overboard did I begin to have doubts.”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Sailing the Atlantic…
image

Of Course, A Watercolour

“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.” 
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Look closely and you will see a heart.

This Valentines day, as I contemplate love, fear, risk and all that spring and winter brings me, l’ll take Mr. Saint-Exupéry’s advice and accept (stay open to) them all.

valentine painting

Religion, A Photograph

“I have been astonished that men could die martyrs
for their religion–
I have shuddered at it,
I shudder no more.
I could be martyred for my religion.
Love is my religion
and I could die for that.
I could die for you.”
– John Keats

Religion, Jennifer Allison

Waiting, A Photograph

“The very essence of romance is uncertainty.”
― Oscar Wilde

On my last evening in Verona I walked through Piazza Erbe one last time.  While resting at a cafe I noticed this young man waiting by a statue holding a red rose and looking nervous.  I wasn’t going to shoot him, but then the old man to the left walked by him and noticed him as well.  He gave him a look I couldn’t pass photographing – a knowing look.  It’s not the best of photo quality…but it says a lot about the two men and their thoughts.

Waiting – Jennifer Allison

Italy and Ten Loves

These are a few things I love about Italy

1.  The way women wear pretty bras even when jogging or working out and high heels while biking through town.

2.   The way the men stand with one hip cocked back, as if modeling.

3.  Neat and tidy balconies.

4.  The olives.

5.  The coffee.

6.  You  have to ask for the check at a restaurant.  Therefore,  you never feel as though you are being rushed out the door.

7.  Expression and/or drama in public, both good and bad, is acceptable.

8.  Men can go for a walk or sit on a bench with other men and it’s not seen as “gay” or such.

9.  Women walk arm and arm and it is not seen as “gay” or such.

10. Absolutely NO ONE wears Crocs to dinner….thank you

Sixteen Men

My father is a poet.  He’s also a man I respect greatly and an interesting soul.  I was raised in a strict Irish/Italian Catholic AND military household.  Although, for all of our rules, it was my father who first introduced me to meditation when I was a teenager, and when he saw that I wasn’t drinking the Kool-Aid of the church, he and my mother suggested I read up on different religions as to explore all options.  They are good people and I am blessed.

He sent this poem to me yesterday

Sixteen Men
by Thomas

Sixteen men
Loved sixteen women
On sixteen nights in June

Fifteen of them
Went off to war
One drummed a different tune

Fourteen women
Cried lonely tears
Only thirteen slept that night

Twelve bullets
Whistled through the air
Eleven bodies stopped the flight

Ten men fell
Onto the ground
Only nine arose

Eight women
Felt their hearts pulled
Then seven felt repose

Six men stayed
To fight the fight
Five wanted to go home

Four women found
New lovers then
Three women felt alone

Two soldiers fell
For the last time
One drummed a different tune

Temporarily

While strolling downtown San Diego today on my way to meet a friend for lunch, I happened to find myself behind a couple about my own age.  They didn’t hold hands or talk much – Instead they held their phones in their hands and ignored one another – their butterflies long gone. Although I wrote the poem with them in mind, it has many meanings….

Temporarily
by Jennifer Allison 

They escaped slowly –
somewhat methodically.
So slowly, I felt
each last weak flutter
disappear.

Stomach in knots.
Feelings escaping with them.
Stillness in their place.
While they flew
free.

To house themselves
inside of someone else –
temporarily.

Before flying home to
enter once more 
through my breath 
as it’s being taken
away.

Again they’ll flutter.
Feelings arriving with them.
While I smile
at the mere thought of their
return.

Until they leave again
to house in another –
temporarily. 

San Diego Train – Empty

Love, by Matthew Dickman

We fall in love at weddings and auctions, over glasses
of wine in Italian restaurants
where plastic grapes hang on the lattice, our bodies throb
in the checkout line, bookstores, the bus stop,
and we can’t keep our hands off each other
until we can–
so we turn to rubber masks and handcuffs, falling in love again.
We go to movies and sit in the air-conditioned dark
with strangers who are in love
with heroes like Peter Parker
who loves a girl he can’t have
because he loves saving the world in red and blue tights
more than he would love to have her ankles wrapped around
his waist or his tongue between her legs.
While we watch films
in which famous people play famous people
who experience pain,
the boy who sold us popcorn loves the girl
who sold us our tickets
and stares at the runs in her stockings each night,
even though she is in love
with the skinny kid who sells her cigarettes at the 7-11
and if the world had any compassion
it would let the two of them pass a Marlboro Light
back and forth
until their fingers eventually touched, their mouths sucking
and blowing. If the world knew how
much they loved each other
then we would all be better off. We could all dive head first
into the sticky parts. We could make sweat
a religion. We could light a candle
and praise the holiness of smelliness. Imagine standing
beneath the gothic archways of feet,
the gilded bowls of armpits. Who doesn’t want to kneel down
and pray before the altar of the mouth?
For my part I am going to stop
right here,
on this dark night,
on this country road,
where country songs come from, and kiss her, this woman,
below the trees,
which are below the stars,
which are below desire.
There’s a music to it. I can hear it.
Johnny Cash, Biggie Smalls, Johann Sebastian Bach, I don’t care
what they say. I loved you
the way my mouth loves teeth,
the way a boy I know would risk it all for a purple dinosaur,
who, truth be told, loved him.
There is no accounting for it.
In fact there are no accountants
balancing the books of love, measuring
the heart’s distance and speed.
In the Midwest, for instance,
there are fields of corn madly in love with a scarecrow,
his potato-sack head
and straw body, standing among the dog-eared stalks,
his arms stretched out like a farm-Christ
full of love. Turning on the radio
I know how much AM loves FM. It’s the same way
my mother loved Elvis
whose hips all young girls love, sitting around the television
in poodle skirts and bobby socks,
watching him move across the screen like something
even sex dreamed of having.
He loved me tender for so many years
that I was born after a long night of Black Russians and Canasta
while Jailhouse Rock rocked.
I love the way my screen door, if it isn’t latched shut,
will fling itself open to the wind,
how the clouds above me look like animals covered in milk.
And I’m not the only one.
Stamps love envelopes. The licking proves it.
Just look at my dog
who obviously loves himself with an intensity
no human being could sustain, though you can’t say we don’t try.
The S&M goddess
who brings her husband to the mall,
dressed in a leather jumper, leading him through the food court
by a leash. The baker who scores
his wife’s name into the thin skin of the pumpernickel
before peeling it into the oven.
Once a baby lizard loved me so completely
he moved into my apartment and died of hunger.
I was living there with a girl who loved to say the word
shuttlecock. She would call
me at work and whisper shuttlecock
into my ear which loved it! The blastoff
of the first word sending the penis into space.
Not that I ever imagined
my cock being a spaceship,
though sometimes men are like astronauts, orbiting
the hot planets of women,
amazed that they have traveled so far, wanting
to land, wanting to document the first walk,
the first moan,
but never truly understanding what
has moved them. Love in an elevator.
Love in the backseat of your parent’s Chevette.
Love going to college, cutting her hair, reading Plath and sleeping
with other girls.
Sometimes love is lying across the bed
but it might not be yours.
And sometimes it travels into a hostile territory
where it’s hardly recognizable
but there all the same.
I know a man who loves tanks so much
he wishes he had one
to pick up the groceries, drive
his wife to work, drop his daughter off
at school with her Little Mermaid
lunch box, a note
hidden inside, next to the apple, folded
with a love that can be translated into any language: I HOPE
YOU DO NOT SUFFER.