An Indian summer evening,

a delicate breeze wafting in from the Hudson

the “poet laureate” of Fort Lee

embraced by old friends like a hero returning from war.

Big Kahuna torches spewing a scent of citronella,

“Goodfella” look-alikes, profoundly rotund, chomp cigars,

pinky rings and gold chains glinting off flickering torch lights.

They reminisce about growing up under the shadow of the amusement park,

gulping tumblers of cheap red wine, munching on mozzeralla, scungille

and Prosciutti di Parma.

They crack up joking about the safety of having Anastasi as a neighbor

who dumped bodies in nearby swampland with only a red-wing blackbird as witness.

His fans horse around, a divertissement, singing a chorus of “Come on over…”

trading shot-for-shot punches, wrapping congratulatory arms around each other

like locker-room athletes after a championship game

When the poet finally begins reading, an uncomprehending old pal

yells: “Boy, has he got a way with the words!”

The poet regales them with stories and poems of their youth; forgotten exploits

like the kid who whizzed by a fence, losing an ear in a game of Salugi,

the fright of the Cyclone after being warned by the carpenter who built it

that it would never be safe, unexpected gropes, fondling and French kissing

in the Tunnel of Love, jumping in to his father’s car to watch the park

burning to the ground and not falling asleep waiting for the voice of his sister

on the PA closing it down, wishing to all a good-night

The poet is pissed-off, fearless, a corrective lens

for near-sighted bumblers who can’t stand up straight.

His poems are visceral and highly pugnacious,

lambasting literary illuminati in bare-knuckled essays

childhood chums wouldn’t understand

yet they’re patriotically proud of their home town muse

who proclaims loud and clear he’ll always return to his roots

and have the balls to go it alone with the rest of the world.